Thursday, April 19, 2007

Welcom Sun Times Readers

Like Monica Eng before here, Janet Fuller managed to make me look saner than I thought.

So you wanna eat local.


It's hard. Not what you think. You do not need to live in California or work for Google [ed. which means you are already living in California, right?]. Winter is not your problem. Listen, don't let anyone from California tell you they have better strawberries. Don't worry that there is no year round public market. You live in the middle of the best farmland, probably, in the world. Shop at a farmer's market when it's there. Subscribe to a CSA. Freeze, can, dry, cold-store; You can live (fer sure) year round on the fruits, vegetables, milk, nuts, butter, eggs, beef, lamb, pork, turkey, duck, pheasant, ham(s), cheeses (many) available within 100 (or so) miles of your house. Getting the stuff is easy.

Using the stuff, that's hard. I was reminded again the other day while dripping purple juice everywhere. Beets are a pain. Like mashing rutabagas and peeling squash (oy, what a pain) and triple washing the aphids off your spinach. Eating local, of course, requires you to eat what's in season, or if you don't eat in then in season, it must be processed for when you will eat it. This means your stuck eating what's around.

Often (typically?) what's around is beets or turnips or celery root. It aint all perfect, ideal, heirloom tomatoes. It takes work. Roast about a dozen beets. See how long it takes. Make a root vegetable mash. See why Rachel Ray is not a localvore. But then, see what she misses in flavor. Not the least enjoy the benefits of eating local...even if can be hard (at times).

You want to eat local. Here's some help:

Read often, the blog. Get inspiration and help from the several posters there. There, you can also find Jamie S.'s, tips for eating local.

Read often (also) the best Internet food forum, (luckily based in Chicago) where you'll find notices of local meat sales and threads about where to find local eggs (one of many).

Make friends with a local farmer. Our family was extremely lucky. A local farmer made friends with us, actually made friends with a daughter. "Farmer Vicki" Vicki Westerhoff took time from vigorous farm life to introduce and inspire the kidz at Hatch Elementary School in Oak Park. Three or so years later we are buying one of her cows. Through our relationship we gain access to products beyond what's at the market. More importantly, we learn about farming and even get to help. Unless (or until) you are a farmer, you cannot full understand and appreciate eating local without the guidance of a local farmer.

More anon.

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