Friday, February 22, 2008

Eat Local, if you love winter squash

Okay, so I figured I'd bore you all with an update of our "eat local" goals. We've been at it over a month, and starting to eat local in Massachusetts in January...well, let's just say I could have picked a better time to start. Really, if you're going to be successful eating local through the winter, you have to be like the ant, not the grasshopper, and plan ahead!

Here's what's going well:
  • Dairy is easy to find locally. Milk, cheese (although I'm still looking for cheddar closer than Cabot, but that's still pretty good), butter: all readily available. Easy-peasy, and since I'm a big dairy fan, this is great!
  • Chicken: readily available from Wilson Farm. Expensive, though...about three times as much as I pay at Stop and Shop.
  • Eggs: again, readily available at Wilson Farm (we even visit the chickens laying the eggs before we buy them!) These are more expensive, but not cost-prohibitive.
  • This isn't shocking, but winter vegetables are easy to get as well: squash of a few varieties, carrots, parsnips, potatoes.
Here's what's not going well:
  • I love vegetables, of many varieties, and those asparagus from South America and Brussels Sprouts from Holland were beckoning louder than I could ignore! We can't live on winter squash alone!
  • I found local tomatoes at Whole Foods, but they were where near as good as those grape tomatoes shipped in from halfway across the globe.
  • Meat, besides chicken, is still stumping me. I see meat CSAs to join, but I'm not sure I'm ready to make that commitment.
  • Seasoning: herbs, garlic, onions, vinegar, etc. No idea where to get these locally.
  • Staples like flour, oil, sugar, etc. I assume at least some of these will be impossible to find locally. Are there any olive farms in Massachusetts to make me olive oil??
  • Cost. It's undoubtedly more expensive, especially local meat. Prices I've seen run around $7-$8 per pound, which is more than I ever pay for meat. I always shop sales, getting boneless skinless chicken breasts for under $2 a pound, stew beef for under $3 a pound, etc. We don't eat much meat, but I don't think we can swing local meat on a regular basis.
Overall, I'm pretty pleased. We've made some definite changes to our purchasing, and also to our diet. I tend to use at least one local ingredient per meal. I'm more cognizant of where our food comes from, and I have hope that as we move into summer, our choices will open up much more widely.

So, if anyone has any advice for me, post it! Cheer me on, give me your tips, whatever!

And, just to warn you, the book sitting at the top of my to-read pile is The Omnivore's Dilemma. So additional over-analyzing of our food is probably in our future!

Random unrelated thought: Gotta go help TK get the boys out of the bath!


Snickollet said...

I loved the Omnivore's Dilemma. Hope you do, too!

KCSummertime said...

I'm reading this article:

in the New Yorker about carbon footprints, and "eating locally." Very good, interesting, smart article (as articles from the New Yorker tend to be...).

Also, if you're interested in reducing your carbon footprint, then perhaps read this article:

in the NY Times, by my fave cookbook writer, Mark Bittman. It's about how expensive meat is to produce...
(OK, kind of pushing my vegetarian agenda, but Bittman isn't a vegetarian...)


tammy said...

A few ideas: Smith's Farmstead in Winchendon has a nice cheddar, as well as gouda and havarti. They're at a few farmer's markets in the summer. The meat cases at Drumlin Farm and Codman Farm in Lincoln have frozen beef, pork, and lamb. It's not cheap, but not exorbitant. What they have varies day to day. I just use King Arthur AP flour, but I get my whole grain flours from Wood Prairie Farm in Maine. With shipping, it's pricey, but I like to support that farm.

This is by far the hardest time of year to eat locally, but it sounds like you're doing great. Come June, it's a whole new world.

P.S. I just started the Omnivore's Dilemma myself, after staring at it on my nightstand for six months.