Sunday, June 22, 2008

Local diet update - June 22, 2008

An amazing market again this weekend in Bryan! Vendors filled the parking lot and customers came in droves. Deep red tomatoes and gorgeous green cucumbers, piles and piles of squash, zucchini, peppers, and eggplant. It was beautiful! And this week, we had watermelon! Oh yeah!

I spent close to two hours talking to to vendors, who now seem more like friends, and picking up the few items I needed for the week. I tried hard not to buy more than I needed - we got our ice cream attachment on Friday and I don't have as much room for extra soup in the freezer. You can see where my priorities are (he he)!

After visiting with everyone, I came home with a cucumber, a pepper, a zucchini, some tomatoes, potatoes, an onion, sage, parsley, basil and that lovely watermelon.

Oh and yeah - I learned something today. If you are transporting a watermelon on the back of your bike, DO NOT try to stand up to pedal! The bike goes into a violent wobble. I didn't fall off, but it was a scary moment as I was trying to cross the highway on the overpass. Yikes! 

So let's see. On top of what I picked up at today's farmers market, I also have local rice and beans in the pantry; local whole milk, sausage, and gouda from the farm; local eggs from the farmers market last week; local mushrooms and local blueberries that I picked up from the grocery; and lots of homemade/from scratch goodies like yogurt, sandwich rolls, pancakes, bagels, ice cream (Mmmm - ice cream), and leftover all-local veggie and polish sausage soup from last week.

And plans for all these goodies?

  • Bagels
  • Pancakes (I have both whole wheat and rice flour pancakes) with homemade maple flavored syrup or fruit-based syrup
  • Watermelon or blueberries
  • Yogurt (homemade from local whole milk)
  • Herbal tea (sage and mint)
  • Baked stuffed tomatoes (large ripe tomatoes filled with mushroom, green pepper, onion, rice, parsley and cheese)
  • Tomato sandwiches (homemade sandwich rolls toasted with fresh, local gouda cheese, and topped with thick slices of fresh tomato)
  • Side of cucumber slices
  • Watermelon
Overall (and so far), I have to say eating locally has been fairly easy for me. Our farmers market is open year-round, I prefer ridiculously simple meals, and I don't have a problem with eating the same thing several days in a row. Now let me qualify all this by saying that I can really only do this because of Exception #1 in my eating locally experiment - "I can purchase a small amount of supplies from the grocery, but they have to be whole foods (single ingredient products). So I can have bread, but I have to make it from scratch (i.e. purchase ingredients like flour, sugar, yeast, salt, etc.)" 

The reason I allowed for this exception is not just because I can't live without bread (no really, I would shrivel up and die), but because I can buy bread from a local baker, but their ingredients wouldn't be local either - so why not bake it myself and save a ton of dough (pun intended, sorry).  

I also eat out a couple times a week with my husband and occasionally with friends and family (Exception #2). It was important to me that this experiment be flexible enough that I'm not withdrawing from society. Rather, I want to be more aware and take a more active role in what I eat and how it comes to my table. 

So technically, my diet isn't entirely local. It's mostly local and almost entirely whole foods. It's still a challenge but it's doable. I still buy a few items here and there from the grocery, but most of my food budget goes to help the local economy and supports a healthy environment. Will I continue all this when October comes and a full year has passed? Oh yeah (with the occasional banana and mango)! It's not perfect, but it's perfect for me.

Enough talk. Let's eat!


eco 'burban mom said...

I feel the same way. With 4 kids, we are a family always on the run! Sometimes we MUST eat out, just to make sure everyone gets fed! What we have pledged to stay away from are chain restaurants of all kinds. We figure if we aren't eating local food persay, at least we are supporting local economy.

Heather @ SGF said...

We do fairly well avoiding chain restaurants. Two of the three restaurants we frequent are local. The other is Cotton Patch. Definitely a chain, but it's within walking distance to our house so we get a nice walk out of it. Also, they have an awesome veggie plate!

Wendy said...

Same here. We still eat out, regularly, in fact. We have Chinese take-out at least once a week, and because the portions are so big, we end up with two meals. The restaurant we frequent doesn't source local ingredients - as far as I know -, but they are not a chain, and they are locally owned. So, we're supporting the local economy.

When we're not eating Chinese, all of our produce, all of our dairy and 90% of our meat is local. Flour is locally milled (in Vermont), but not from local wheat, and other staples, like sugar and olive oil are just not local at all.

But, I think it has to be a balance. I'm always looking for alternatives to those things we can't get locally, like sugar, but the alternatives (maple syrup and honey) are much more expensive than sugar. So, while I use them occassionally as a substitute, from a purely economic standpoint, I will still use sugar most of the time. This may change, but because I've already indentified alternatives and learned how to use them, any forced transition due to limited availability won't be an issue ;).

Heather @ SGF said...

wendy - I struggle with the whole balance thing. I started out last fall (oct) trying to see if I could eat entirely local (or homemade for things like bread and desserts). For the most part, like you, I'm about 90 percent local - all our milk, eggs, honey, veggies, fruits, nuts, etc are local.

But then they're balance. For instance - I really enjoy Nature's Path cereal. Do I buy it? It doesn't fit into my local eating experiment. Do I wait until Oct when I've had a year in or do I go for balance now and just enjoy it every once in awhile? Another thing I've struggled with...We can only get local gouda. This weekend, I made homemade mac and cheese for my hubby. Do I eat it? It has gouda, but also mozarella and parmesean (not local) and of course those elbow noodles weren't local.

It's been tough trying to figure out how strict I want to be with myself. So far, I've been really strict on the fruits and veggies (I haven't had a banana or mango since I added fruit to the local diet experiment in March). But how far do I want to take this?

timeus said...

We patroned the local Farmer's Market on Sunday. Mandy & I were surprised to find that produce prices were actually cheaper than any of the grocery stores local enough for us to frequent. So, not only were we able to support local farmers, but we saved money doing it.

Meat, dairy, & eggs are on display on Fridays & Saturdays, so we missed out on that, but must find time to make it over for it.

Heather @ SGF said...

timeus - That's awesome! Not to mention that the market is open Friday-Sunday! At least then you can be flexible about when you go. Enjoy all your goodies!

timeus said...

Actually, it's open Su-Sa, but the big days are the weekend days.

Heather @ SGF said...

All week? Now I'm totally jealous!