On extreme local eating (it’s rather boring, sorry)

What’s that about the legislative process and sausage-making?  Breakfast sausage

I signed up for the Eat Local Challenge this month.  Now I am wracking my brain trying to come up with exciting foodstuffs to write about to show how we’re facing that challenge.

You see, I feel quite fortunate in living where we do.  It took me awhile, but I was able to locally source many things that most parts of the country do not grow at all (sugar, grains, oil; see Food:MI tab above).  My own foray into carnivory and The Year of the Meat Bird has also filled out the protein end of the family palate.  And in all honesty, at this time of year, most of what we eat comes right out of the garden or right out of the chickens.  So yes, how boring, no challenge!  Here’s the typical fare:

  • Breakfast:  Eggs and spuds, applesauce.  Eggs and breadstuff, grapejuice.  Eggs and homemade sausage.  We sure like our eggs!
  • Lunch:  Leftover dinner, plus fruit.
  • Dinner:  Gigantic salad (even the kid puts away about 2.5 cups of salad a night), potato or breadstuff, green vegetable, and “main course” of chicken or a big vegetable dish (last night it was shell beans and chard with cilantro and cumin; the night before was a winter squash curry).  Or, gigantic salad, soup, and breadstuff.  Or, gigantic salad with stuff on top of it.  Or, gigantic salad and eggs!

I will say that, for this challenge, I am trying to steer clear of the two problem areas that most places have in terms of local eating:  grains and dairy.  Dairy-wise, the kid drinks milk, and I loves me some butter, but my husband hates cheese (really, and despite this I still married him) so it’s not eaten readily in this house.  And grains are a whole subject to themselves:  I will cover this, especially the more kooky local grains we get to eat.  So we do eat breadstuffs, as I mentioned, but they are spare:  lots of crepes, lots of polenta, grits, cornbread.

So, instead of talking about typical meals (and thus boring you silly) I would like to talk about approach for this challenge.  How does one avoid the grocery store?  What in the world do I do with half a hog?  How does one use a whole chicken to feed the family for the better part of a week?  How DO you eat all those eggs, and not drop dead of coronary artery disease?  (My cholesterol numbers are stellar, incidentally.)

My goal, again, in taking this challenge was not for me, but rather as a tool of conversion.  If others of you start gardening, or gardening more, or getting a greenhouse, or buying a freezer and starting to can stuff, I will feel so gratified!

9 responses to “On extreme local eating (it’s rather boring, sorry)

  1. Oh El, I love this post! Reading what you eat from the land to stay away from the store is my favorite kind of blog. And get ready to feel gratified…I’m days away from ordering the greenhouse! yahoooo

  2. Looking forward to it El. Did you get some of the less popular parts of your pig? We’re getting a whole one this year and it seems that it might be fun to get the belly, some fat, etc, but I’m not sure what to ask for?

  3. Ok, I had to de-lurk after this post to leave a comment. Seeing how you’ve managed to eat in a self-sustainable way has really inspired me and my honey to take a deep look at how we eat and purchase food. In the past, I shopped almost exclusively at Safeway, just picking up what I needed for dinner the next night, ensuring that I would need to make a return trip the following day. Not only was my trash can full every week before garbage day but I shudder to think of the gas I burned driving to the store every. freakin. day. 😦

    Since I’ve been reading your blog and others on the internet, I’ve found myself much more aware of how and where I buy our food. I shop at the local farmers market for all our fruit and veggies now, except for the tomatoes, peas, peppers and lettuce that I can grow in pots on our small deck. While they were plentiful I bought and canned about 100 pounds of peaches and pears combined, put up about twenty jars of homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam, and about 10 pints of pickles. We buy the majority of our other stuff in bulk and freeze what we aren’t going to use immediately. I am also coveting your chickens with a passion although I recognize that I have no suitable place to put them so it wouldn’t be fair to them.

    So, after this horrendously long post 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration, I thought you would want to know just how you’ve affected others.

    Have a happy Thursday 🙂

  4. This post is NOT boring! I can hardly wait to read more. What do you do with half a hog? What “kooky local grains” do you get to eat?

    I do find your blog inspirational. I’m planting a winter garden this year for the first time, and will be taking a backyard chicken-keeping class in two weeks… so keep the inspiration coming. You are doing a great job!

  5. Funny, I was just harvesting the last of my peppers, grilling them and putting them in the freezer and reflecting on just how difficult it is to provision for oneself, let alone eat locally. I too, in a way, am taking up the ‘eat local’ challenge, though not officially as you are. Instead, I’m trying to ‘do it all’ myself. I was thinking about how much I have learned, but also, how much there is to learn if I’m every really going to be totally self-sufficient in food. The short story is, it is nearly impossible to do it ALL oneself. Certainly without an agricultural background. Maybe there are those that can just ‘break ground’ and do it all, but not me: the learning curve is HUGE, the crop failure rate is high, some yields are very low, and the energy that it takes is endless.

    Eggs, eggs, and more eggs…oh, and a dollop of fresh cream while we’re at it (and I have good hdl/ldl too).

  6. Not many people can say the Challenge is no challenge. We’re not even close to accepting the Challenge. What a mindset. But you and your blog have at least gotten me on the right track. You never know what someone is going to take from your posts. Somehow I keyed in on the compost and now have two bins going. I froze lots of stuff this year rather than giving everything away that we couldn’t eat at that time. It all takes time and you have been so inspirational. Wish I could have some chickens.

  7. Living in a big city I try and do farmers markets with my neighbors and we fgrow a few things behind our Apt.Bldg but at the store I try and do good.Trader Joes has a Neiman Ranch Bacon I love and Neiman does both a cured and uncured.They also sell other Neiman Ranch meats which I like.As for that hog apples go well with pork.Next week I go back to the Finger Lakes and buy local for a few great weeks of cooking for my friend’s putting up with me.Plus it will be wild duck season and bow season for Venison but that was always Uncles who did the deer hunting so haven’t had wild in several years.

  8. We like (& eat) eggs quite a bit & I keep my cholesterol within desirable levels. My doctor says it’s mostly due to genetics though.

    I think eggs are a great choice to incorporate good protein into our diets at low cost. Plus, you could use it feasibly in some form at each meal if you wanted.

    We also eat a lot of canned tuna, canned salmon & sardines. Yes, I know they travel great distances to reach me but I choose them for the health factor. Plus it’s another way to avoid red meat.

    Oh, & I adore chicken!

  9. Kathy! Hooray!! Please let me know how much you love it!

    Laura, I hate to give a teaser, but…stay tuned for my eating high and low on the hog post, probably within the next week. (Short answer: work with your butcher!)

    Dana! dingdingdingding! Gold star for you, girl. I think the biggest hurdle for many is the whole “why change? Safeway works fine for me.” Yeah, but eat a home-canned peach, you’ll taste the difference. I think the one true and unmentioned benefit is how great you feel after learning a new skill or two (or five).

    Cindy, aw shucks. I really am happy to learn about someone taking a chicken class; that makes my day. Like the hog post, I have a couple long grain posts, so…stay tuned. (Gosh, I sound like the 11:00 news teaser. Sorry.)

    Hi Kristeva. Luckily, the Challenge lets you define “local,” so I am using a more or less 100 mile radius from my house, with the one exception of Michigan sugar beet sugar (200-ish miles). So yeah, it could be kind of phony. My poultry feed is from Michigan, my milk from the MI/IN border. But I think you should cut yourself some slack. Growing things WELL takes a lot of time, and there’s a life-long learning curve for some things (thankfully, or I would get bored fast). Should I have tried to provision us on the first season here, we’d have run out of food probably mid-December, as I didn’t have the hang of it yet.

    Jeri! Ah, compost: there are few things dearer to this girl’s heart than controlled rotting. *sigh* Well, thanks for sharing, too, that you’ve begun to freeze your bounty. I think that, with anything, it’s just a little bit of a mind shift. Sure, still share your bounty with friends but think about how yummy those tomatoes will taste in January.

    John, a few weeks in upstate? How fun! I think cooking vacations are the absolute best, but then again, cooking is not a chore for me. I am going to try to score some of our neighbor’s venison this year; he’s a bow-hunter. We could even legally “harvest” the pesky deer on our land (now THAT would be a post that’d lose me a lot of readers, surely). Pork does go well with apples, and add cabbage to that and it’s pig heaven. Have fun with those ducks too.

    Laurene, ah, the wonders of the humble egg. Cheap, good, fast-cooking; I would love to string up the idiot who gave them a bad rap in the 80s and led this country to eschew them. Of course, there is a world of difference between a farm egg and a battery egg, including levels of omega 3s and 6s. I dunno. I’ll still eat a plate of eggs (and do) to nearly any other protein. As for fish, yeah, great benefits but I am not going to go the distance to get them, which is why I gorged myself when I was in Boston! yum.

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