08.12.2005 :: Pictures

local flowers
I'm almost one year old!

Another dog picture. I couldn't resist. This is such an *ellie* picture - she'll charm you with cuteness then jump up and kiss you!

Posted at 06:16 PM | Comments (8)

08.06.2005 :: Local Summer Delights

green onions from Crown Point Ecology Center
Zinnias from a Brecksville farm
Local Salsa and Cheese
carrots

Posted at 10:50 AM | Comments (15)

08.03.2005 :: Drink Local on August 10

Here's a great idea which encompasses the "eat local" theme for August - Drink Local. The objective being to drink wine from the closest local winery. I think I will redefine this as a wine from the closest local vineyard. The idea of getting a bottle of wine from the local "make your own wine" shop isn't quite as attractive as finding the closest actual vineyard.

mmm. riesling.

When I was in New York, I picked up a couple of bottles of Riesling from a Finger Lakes winery - that one is also an option! It was local to me while I was on vacation.

There is a little story about the booth where I purchased this wine. It was quiet and relatively empty when I entered, but was soon filled with an exuberant crowd of Raspberry Rose devotees. The owner must have sold six to eight bottles in just about that many minutes while I tried to decide which Riesling I preferred. Perhaps the Raspberry Rose would have been a more authentic local variety, given it's popularity!

August also brings the wine event Vintage Ohio. I've never attended, but it looks like fun - and Lake Farmpark is a beautiful place to visit.

Some local wines I may have to try for this challenge:
Honey Wine from bees in Valley City, 20 miles away.
The Winery at Wolf Creek a vineyard in Norton, 26 miles away.
Laleure Vineyards in Parkman, 40 miles away (Ok, so here's another story. As I checked out this vineyard's web page, I realized - Hey, that farm looks familiar! It's a property that my ex-fiance and I looked at when it was on the market - it's a gorgeous farm, which unfortunately was not at the very top of the hill - and that's another story that you won't ever read about on this blog - but notice the "ex" before the word fiance. The house on this property had been beautifully restored...)
Troutman Vineyards in Wooster, 50 miles away.

Posted at 12:03 AM | Comments (3)

07.30.2005 :: Locavores Gone Loco?

Perhaps my "eat local" goals that I posted the other day were a little over the top. The idea of a challenge made me a little crazy. I figured I could list my daily menu and find alternatives for everything. Enthusiastic? Obsessive? Realistic? A little of this and that and not so much of the other.

The reality of what I'm getting from this challenge is a better sense of my community. This is a big deal for me, because by default, I tend towards living a rather hermitic life. I like silence and privacy. I'm not a big fan of social gatherings except with trusted friends and family. I don't have children, so I don't have an automatic entry into the life of my suburban neighborhood. For me, venturing out and participating is my local challenge. And I'm finding there's alot of inherent reinforcement in the local food community.

The lady who bakes the whole wheat challah bread at my local farmer's market is the same lady who sells me the bread. We talk about what she's planning on making next week. At the raw cheese booth, the other breadmaker and I politely and laughingly bicker over who gets the last block of sharp cheddar (he got it last week!). There's a reassuring sense of community that I'm finding in this quest for local food that is feeding something deeper than my hunger.

So my goal becomes more refined. Eating locally is my challenge to become a part of my community. Talking to strangers. Exchanging ideas face to face. Trying something new. My goal is not to replace every item in my kitchen nor to establish an elaborate new food lifestyle. It's just me finding my own place.

Local Blueberries

Homemade blueberry scones (recipe from Barbara at Tigers & Strawberries). Made with blueberries that I bought at the Peninsula Farmer's Market this morning. The berries are from Blue Jaye Farm which is located about 13 miles away from my house.

Posted at 02:10 PM | Comments (11)

07.24.2005 :: Goals for the Eat Local Challenge

1. What’s your definition of local for this challenge?

For the purposes of this challenge, I'm going to define local as any product grown or produced in Ohio. Ideally, if it's a product that is made from a recipe, the ingredients will be from Ohio. As other's have pointed out, local organic would be my first choice, then local non-organic - as often the local non-organic has a lower net cost to the environment than organic products shipped via truck from far away. Plus, I'd still be supporting small Ohio farms.

2. What exemptions will you claim?

I'll probably be finding more potential exemptions as I go along and as I identify them, I'll try to research local alternatives.

Some of the things that I've already identified:


  • Asparagus (now that it's out of season my choice is to get the stuff that is shipped in to my grocery store or replace it with something else - it's been a mainstay of my diet. Maybe I'll just cut down on the amount that I eat.)

  • Olive oil

  • Butter (I've been using Danish butter - I should be able to find a substitute pretty easily for this. Update: My local grocery store carries products (milk and butter) from Hartzler Family Dairy, a small Ohio dairy.)

  • Tortilla Shells - this has been the only bread that I've been eating. I may try to make these myself.

  • Oatmeal - I have a big canister of Quaker Oats. I'm going to have to do some research to see if I can get this from a local producer. Maybe from an Amish market.

  • Sugar - I use sugar in my coffee and brown sugar on my oatmeal. I'll have to see if I can accept honey as a substitute sweetner or if there are any other options (this amounts to about 2 tablespoons per day)

  • Some spices and most seasonings. I don't use many spices and the herb I use most often is basil and that's growing outside in my backyard.

  • Salt - My salt may actually be local (pdf). Morton has a huge processing and mining operation up in Fairport Harbor, Ohio. I've never visited, but from what I understand there are big salt caves that have been excavated out under Lake Erie. My guess is that the salt may be mined here in Ohio, shipped to a processing or packing plant and then shipped back. It would be interesting to find out if there are any smaller companies that sell the local salt.

  • Beef products for the dogs - They primarily eat local chicken and produce, but I supplement with beef products. More research is required on availability of products for them.

  • Rice - I've been adding rice to my dogs food every couple of days. It's from Trader Joes and isn't local.

  • Drinks - I drink alot of flavored seltzer water. It may be bottled locally, but I'm not sure. More research on this one!

  • Yogurt. Yes, I could make my own, but I'm kind of in love with my non-fat blackberry yoplait. One of my projects for the month may be to try my hand at making my own yogurt...we'll see!

3. What is your personal goal for the month?

If I can swap out about 50% of my non-local products with local products, then I will have made significant progress. The ultimate plan is to maintain and raise the percentage for the rest of my life.

Perhaps throughout the month of "awareness", those more experienced with eatling locally, can provide some information on how to maintain their local shopping criteria during the winter months.

Posted at 06:13 PM | Comments (3)

07.23.2005 :: August Eat Local Challenge

eatlocalone.jpg

Liz over at Pocket Farm wrote a post about the August Eat Local Challenge and now I can't stop thinking about it. The reasons and rules are posted over at life begins at 30.

Over the past several years, I've been making tiny lifestyle changes, trying to eliminate products that have a negative impact on the environment from my life.

My interest in starting to more seriously pursue this was reinforced when I read the book, The Botany of Desire, by Michael Pollan. The chapter on potatos describes the dramatic effects that farming potatos has on the environment as well as how the needs of huge restaurant chains like McDonald's drive production farming to focus on the mass production of only one species of potato.

I came away from this book with the feeling that the least I could do was plant some heirloom vegetables or support local growers who maintain small farms and grow a variety of plant species.

Ruth Ozeki's novels were also influential. She's not always subtle, but she's often very funny and you can't miss her point as you read through her books. Both My Year of Meats and All Over Creation were fun reads while reinforcing the direction that I wanted to take in the things that I feed myself and my family (of dogs).

eatlocaltwo.jpg

Funny, how novels have influenced me. As I thought back on how my mindset started to change, I remembered that one of my favorite characters is a woman who inherits a farm after her husband dies and she decides to keep it and farm it herself. The character's name is Lusa and she's in Barbara Kingsolver's book, Prodigal Summer.

But it's not just inspiration from fictional characters. The more aware I've become of the forces of greed that drive corporate culture, the more I want to maintain as much self-sufficiency as I can. Call me paranoid, but I think the current culture in the US has been designed to breed a consumer who is extremely dependent on the corporate infrastructure that is destroying our environment. I want to wean myself off of that dependency as much as possible.

So the August Eat Local Challenge is a great motivational event for me. I've been dieting, so I've been eating more fruits and vegetables for the past few months. Eating locally actually makes this easier. Part of my success has been because I refuse to eat anything unless it's absolutely delicious. Locally grown vegetables and fruits taste better naturally. I had a plum today that should have been illegal it was so wonderfully warm and flavorful!

eatlocalthree.jpg

I've been thinking about this quite a bit over the last year. Over the next month, I'm going to try to put together some coherent information on the resources, stories and lifestyles that I've been learning about.

Until then, I made some buttons! Anyone who cares about this at all is welcome to copy the button graphic and post it on their blog. If you make the button a link - link it back to the August Challenge rules on Jen's blog.

And how cool is this? I took all of the photos that I used for the buttons at my local farmer's market this morning!

Here are some smaller buttons - more suitable for narrow sidebars:

Eat Local August Challenge

Eat Local August Challenge

Eat Local August Challenge

Posted at 10:07 PM | Comments (12)