Friday, May 18, 2007

So You Wanna Eat Local

Think Ahead

It was a very good day at the first Green City Market of Chicago.

The Bennison Bakery girls had nothing to sell by 11:00.

Green Acre Farms was equally sold out.

And Hoosier Pie had not got around to changing their sign to reflect their lack of inventory.

After our (usual) (typical) (dreadful) winter, Chicagoans are starting to revel in fresh, local food. Stories and reports on the farmers markets were all over the media last week, print and e. The hype seemed to work. A late start and the (usual) (typical) (dreadful) traffic on North Avenue got my wife and I to Green City on the late side. We still had plenty of asparagus

I went crazy over all the fresh herbs at Growing Power; who's so local they're farming in downtown Chicago.

A day after the market, I got my weekly CSA box from Genesis Growers. More asparagus, more mint, broccoli, chard, lettuce, carrots, spring onions. What did I do. I blanched. I froze. All my broccoli from the last few weeks will be available for a long time. Broccoli, for instance, is pretty useless raw, so blanching/freezing does little to the final product. Defrosted, I can even make a salad from my handiwork. Next February.

One thing I plan on doing more this year is drying. It's easier to freeze fruit than veg, but we found limited use for frozen fruit. I cannot put it in the kidz lunch. Therefore, I'm gonna try more drying this year, peaches, apricots, grapes especially. Then, I'll have plenty of local fruit to fill their brown paper bags.

Eating local should not be a pastime that begins with the first outdoor markets in May and rolls up come fall. Buy now what you can eat later. Preserve. You will find it very worth it.


Anne said...

bad foodie that i am, i've never heard of 'regular people' (ie, people not working for con agra) freezing veggies for home use.
you don't even want to know how much raw stalks of broccoli i've dipped in hummus and miserably eaten just to get rid of it.

i'll be happily keeping track of your site -- especially the parts about local features at whole foods, 'cause i love local and i love whole foods. so then!

-- anne, intern

VI said...

Well, in the home preserving league, freezing's a bit tamer than canning. As I have noted, I find little degregation in quality in the frozen veg. Do put away some of your own broc this summer.