Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Eating locally

Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family moved to a Virginia farm and embarked upon a year-long experiment to eat only local foods, most of which they grew or raised themselves. They managed to get through the year in great shape with plenty of food, including what they canned, dried, and froze for the winter. I just finished reading her book about the experience, Animal Vegetable Miracle, and have been inspired to move to a farm and grow all my own food. Since this is a bit impractical right now, I'll settle for shopping at farmers markets and maybe growing just a few things at home.

Kingsolver's book has completely shamed me for not only buying produce out of season, but not even knowing when certain foods are in season at all. I have had vague notions, like lettuce=spring, corn=summer, winter squash=winter but I didn't know that, for example, the asparagus season is only a couple of weeks long. I think my upcoming foray into gardening will help me out in this department considerably.

In fact, we spent a good part of Monday in the back yard, raking up leaves and debris and clearing out rocks, used to outline some long ago garden beds. Also we took a trip to home depot for some plants and seeds. We have little pots of lettuce, basil, rosemary, and peppers on the window sill waiting to be planted, as well as packets of carrot, pumpkin, and string bean seeds. We're going to put a raised garden bed in one corner of the back yard and hopefully will grow something edible.

The farmers markets don't start up until late May, but now that the weather is better it is more practical to go farther afield for a better grocery store. After a long and lovely walk to Central Sq this weekend, we went to Harvest Co-op, my favorite natural foods store. There we found not only better produce than Stop n Shop (which isn't too hard) But! Also! LOCAL tofu and tempeh! Srsly. There's a company in Jamaica Plain called 21st Century Foods that makes tofu, tempeh, and a number of other exciting products. My newfound locavorianism also conveniently coincides with the news that my favorite coffee shop, the Sherman Cafe in Union Square, will be opening a market selling only local foods. How fantastic! It's still in the planning stages, but still - this is great news!

It's not exactly what Kingsolver and her family have done, but for someone living in an urban area I think it's a pretty good start. I'll probably never grow enough produce to can it for the winter (and kill us both from botulism, probably) but I do feel committed to taking these small steps towards a more local diet. I still want chickens, though. Maybe next year.


Anonymous said...

Have you checked out Boston Organics? I'm guessing you have. It gets organic fruits and veggies as locally as possible and delivers it to you. So you know you're only getting in season stuff. I can see you with chickens. Definitely. :-)

3goodrats said...

Yes, I used to get Boston Organics but they really emphasize organic and most of it isn't local. I also tried a CSA and was frustrated at the huge amounts of one or two vegetables I would receive each time (requiring me to go buy even more produce so that I could make it into something!) I really just need to be able to purchase vegetables as needed. I think these options are great for families who use a lot of produce but not so much for a two-person one-rabbit household.