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SpoonfulOSugar

Jams, Jellies (but no PB Wars): Living Local

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SpoonfulOSugar

Hi, everyone! (This is a takeoff from a thread drift that I really want to continue/expand.)

My husband and I live in northern New England. We have made a conscious decision to buy and eat more locally when we can.

We buy local pork, beef, sometimes lamb, eggs, raw milk; we are buying local produce when possible; and we wildcraft (pick off our land.)

We have a short growing season, no local CSAs (we had one farm, but the family moved), and a small container garden on our deck.

We're trying to buy less processed in general and make more from scratch.

formergothardite has mentioned a book by Barbara Kingsolver: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I just got it.

I also like Michael Pollan's books about the value of food, i.e: Don't buy your food where you fuel your car.

So - where all the locavores (and partial locavores)? How are you sourcing food? What "lead you to the alter" of real food? What is easy and hard for you? What are you reading? What could you never give up?

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FundieFarmer

Hi! I like to eat local out of respect for our local merchants. Their things are very high quality, and I want their businesses to survive.

We buy frozen meat and veggies from local vendors and work them into our meals.

I worked with a food sourcing start up for a while, and did you know that within the public school system, there is no set definition for "local"? Schools are encouraged to buy from local vendors, but they get to define "local" for themselves!

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SpoonfulOSugar
Hi! I like to eat local out of respect for our local merchants. Their things are very high quality, and I want their businesses to survive.

We buy frozen meat and veggies from local vendors and work them into our meals.

I worked with a food sourcing start up for a while, and did you know that within the public school system, there is no set definition for "local"? Schools are encouraged to buy from local vendors, but they get to define "local" for themselves!

Yes, being part of a local economy and community is an excellent part of eating local!

I was eating blueberries (I'm a tease) and thinking that the flavor of "real" food is part of the appeal. I lurve me some tomatoes (like, obsess) but the difference between a high-quality garden tomato and a grocery store plastic tomato can't be described in mere words, can it? :)

Are you talking public schools in the US? I find the USDA guidelines beyond laughable, so that doesn't surprise me a bit.

In a previous life, I taught high school agriscience. We had a school farm - and just getting the produce into our own schools took a couple years. (It depends in large part on the food service director.) The one thing that I really liked is that the first food service director we worked with was actively engaged in teaching the younger grades about food beyond meat and potatoes. So she asked us to grow "unusual" (for these kids) veggies and had them do taste tests right on the farm in the fall. It was very rewarding.

I know the local movement is something of a fad in New England - I recently saw articles about a push to get the University of Maine System to buy more locally. That's also sometimes a challenge, because the contract with the food vendor (like Aramark or Sodexho) may limit how the local food service sources their food.

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VelociRapture

We're in Southern New England! We try our best to buy and eat local when we can, but it can be tough - prices can be ridiculous! We're lucky that we live beneath our means when it comes to our mortgage and bills and everything, but it's still tough.

We did containers on the balcony again this summer. We need to throw out the Tomatoes and Basil because they're dead and didn't produce anything. Peppers seem to be doing ok for now. It's been a really weird summer here. :lol:

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SpoonfulOSugar

Saturday is market day. :)

I'd like to introduce you guys to one of my obsessions. I LOVE fresh tomatoes. One of my fondest childhood memories is of my grandmother peeling tomatoes, chopping them, and handing me the bowl. So good. I eat them year round, but this time of year is like Heaven to me.

So, a couple years ago one of the farmers here started offering a new "cherry" tomato - but it isn't exactly.

This is a hybrid - owned and available only through Johnny's -

http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-6966-tomatoberry-garden.aspx

I don't know entirely why I love it: the right texture, a good amount of flavor, it's just a GREAT tomato.

In any case, Mr. Spoon asked a couple weeks ago, and they weren't picking and bringing them at that time. So, last week, they picked and brought two clamshells just for me.

This week, SCORE! Mr. Spoon came home with four containers of little red tomatoberries. (Please don't feel sorry for him - he doesn't LIKE fresh tomatoes.)

So, I'll be over here making a piggie of myself if anyone is looking for me.

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browncoatslytherin

i totally agree with you, sos, nothing tops a good, fresh tomato. my mum grew tomatoes when i was still at home...it was a variety called "celebrity", i think? they were huge but so mild and wonderful. at dinner, she'd slice them up, sprinkle just a taste of salt and pepper on them, and we'd eat them as is. :D

now, of course, she has a whole garden. different varieties of squash, some cucumbers, tomatoes, along with some strawberries! i'm so jelly (pun intended) that she lives three hours away. i really need to move closer!

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SpoonfulOSugar
i totally agree with you, sos, nothing tops a good, fresh tomato. my mum grew tomatoes when i was still at home...it was a variety called "celebrity", i think? they were huge but so mild and wonderful. at dinner, she'd slice them up, sprinkle just a taste of salt and pepper on them, and we'd eat them as is. :D

now, of course, she has a whole garden. different varieties of squash, some cucumbers, tomatoes, along with some strawberries! i'm so jelly (pun intended) that she lives three hours away. i really need to move closer!

I'm so glad someone else understands! Tomatoes are tops in my "must have to survive" list of foods. Cherries are probably a close second.

(I've eaten two baskets of tomatoes. A third is in vinegar with onions, pepper, and cukes to make a nice quick pickled salad.)

My father-in-law fishes for catfish. Last winter, we took some of our local meats to them and swapped for about 60 pounds of fish. You need to do some sort of swap with your mum! LOL

If anyone wondered, the blueberries were too sour to eat, so I did a quick cook with some sugar and vanilla. I froze a jar, poured some over a slice of chocolate cake, and then saved some of the syrup for blueberry soda.

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formergothardite

We have been making attempts to eat more local. So far all of our meat, eggs and most of our produce comes from local sources. I do do things like buy bananas and mangos because we love those and there is no way to get them local. It is amazing how much easier it has become to eat local. Even ten years ago finding a local source for meat was difficult. I used to do a CSA for produce but we were ending up with lots of stuff we just didn't eat(there are only so many collards a person can eat :lol: ) so now I just go and buy what I know we are going to eat. I am very lucky that we have fruit growing wild around our house. Everything from wild plums to persimmons. We also have black walnut and hickory nut trees, but cracking those little buggers are a pain.

Next year I hope to take a class from a local farm about identifying local plants that grow wild and are edible.

I mentioned Animal, Vegetable. Miracle in the other thread, but another good book to read is The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. I can't describe how amazing this book is. If you get one, get a later edition because she added a lot to it each time. It is a HUGE book but it isn't just a book about country living, it is also the story of her life as a farm wife and mother.

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blessalessi

What is your definition of "local" ?

My initial thought was that I don't belong in this thread because it would be impossible to live on produce just from my locality.

Then I remembered that the UK is a little bit smaller than the U.S., so.... ;)

How many miles across would the diameter be if a circle were drawn around drawn your locality, according to your food ethics? :)

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SpoonfulOSugar
We have been making attempts to eat more local. So far all of our meat, eggs and most of our produce comes from local sources. I do do things like buy bananas and mangos because we love those and there is no way to get them local. It is amazing how much easier it has become to eat local. Even ten years ago finding a local source for meat was difficult. I used to do a CSA for produce but we were ending up with lots of stuff we just didn't eat(there are only so many collards a person can eat :lol: ) so now I just go and buy what I know we are going to eat. I am very lucky that we have fruit growing wild around our house. Everything from wild plums to persimmons. We also have black walnut and hickory nut trees, but cracking those little buggers are a pain.

Next year I hope to take a class from a local farm about identifying local plants that grow wild and are edible.

I mentioned Animal, Vegetable. Miracle in the other thread, but another good book to read is The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. I can't describe how amazing this book is. If you get one, get a later edition because she added a lot to it each time. It is a HUGE book but it isn't just a book about country living, it is also the story of her life as a farm wife and mother.

The CSA we were in had a "not totally the CSA structure" option where you could just pay an amount in the spring and use a card through the year to draw down on the balance. I know I need to eat greens, but I feel less than passionate about collards and kale.

We had wild plums growing up - that made some of the best jelly I have ever had. Mr. Spoon likes black walnuts, but those and persimmons are on my "never tried due to geography" list. I've heard cracking black walnuts is "fun." LOL

We took a class from a local herbalist a few years ago and it was fascinating. We are friends with her now and she will wildcraft with Mr. Spoon several times a year. I want to do more with local mushrooms, but that is such an iffy thing that I'm very hesitant.

What is your definition of "local" ?

My initial thought was that I don't belong in this thread because it would be impossible to live on produce just from my locality.

Then I remembered that the UK is a little bit smaller than the U.S., so.... ;)

How many miles across would the diameter be if a circle were drawn around drawn your locality, according to your food ethics? :)

If you like eating things that are fresh and in season, you belong. :)

Heck, even if you don't, but you like homemade or "real" food, that's part of it to me, or if you just want to learn or talk about it. I'd even be open to people who think it's unrealistic or not economical.

We don't draw any lines for our purchases and I don't feel guilty about our occasional consumption of "easy" dinners (potstickers or even fast food.) I have so many things in my life that are "rules" and "ideals" and "perfection" that I just can't add any more!

Does your area (or the UK in general) have anything like the concept of community-supported agriculture (CSA's)? Usually, you pay for a share and the farm provides a box on a regular schedule that is filled with what they have at that time. (So you might get a weekly box, and the first week it might be microgreens, hydroponic tomatoes, radishes, and greenhouse cucumbers. One in our area right now would have things like zucchini, green beans, wax beans, cucumbers, maybe some early corn. In the fall, it would be more apples and thick-skinned squash. All depending, of course, on what the farm is actually producing.)

What would you say are the agricultural products in your area?

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blessalessi

I was being slightly tongue in cheek about not thinking I could join in. :P for tone.... :lol:

I'm genuinely interested though in what you would broadly categorise as local. Your town? County? State?

I am in the south west of the uk. We have local farmers markets, and veg box schemes around my area, where you pay a set price and get a weekly box of whatever is in season. Some of them include small amounts of imported stuff but even so they can get boring, especially in the winter season. I don't know of any co-op schemes, but I have not explored that.

I grow things that I enjoy at home, but that is mostly for pleasure, not subsistence. We don't have the climate or space for anything else. In the UK, most local councils offer a limited number of public "allotments", which are areas of land divided into plots that individual owners can rent to grow their own crops and keep chickens. They are often rented for a pittance, one locally is £15 a year, but they can run to hundreds in more expensive areas and if you want luxuries like running water. They tend to be very sought after and are run by strict volunteer committees, and so I have never applied for one myself, as I don't have the time to commit to one.

I would say that I buy local when I can, and probably when the local-ness of a product is advertised as such. I am in England, but potatoes from west Wales are in the grocers right now, and so I don't mind the 75-100 miles they may have travelled to get to me. The potatoes I grew lasted a delicious 6 weeks, so that's an example of my choices.

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SpoonfulOSugar
I'm genuinely interested though in what you would broadly categorise as local. Your town? County? State?

That's a fair question, and I'm not sure I have a concrete answer. (It's almost like a continuum of "really local" "mostly local" "sorta local" "downstate" "regional" "not local.")

Our town has very little agriculture within the city limits, so it's not that. Our county is huge, so that really doesn't fit either, although if I map our purchases, that's probably the line of demarcation that fits best. So I'll say ideally, within 50 miles. (I think some of our farmers' market vendors travel that distance.)

I would say that I buy local when I can, and probably when the local-ness of a product is advertised as such. I am in England, but potatoes from west Wales are in the grocers right now, and so I don't mind the 75-100 miles they may have travelled to get to me. The potatoes I grew lasted a delicious 6 weeks, so that's an example of my choices.

What is your growing season?

Potatoes are one of the primary agricultural crops where I am, along with forest products. One of the immigrant populations that settled the area were those fleeing the Irish potato famine.

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formergothardite

My version of local probably isn't another person's. I buy peaches and strawberries from SC(but it is in driving distance) and get some produce that has been brought down from the mountains of NC. One of the farms in this area also sells citrus fruit that they purchase from a small farm in Florida. I guess for me it is more of trying to buy things in season and trying to buy things that were produced in a sustainable way.

Wild persimmons are some of the best fruit I have had. They don't taste anything like the persimmons sold in the grocery store.

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Cartmann99
Saturday is market day. :)

I'd like to introduce you guys to one of my obsessions. I LOVE fresh tomatoes. One of my fondest childhood memories is of my grandmother peeling tomatoes, chopping them, and handing me the bowl. So good. I eat them year round, but this time of year is like Heaven to me.

So, a couple years ago one of the farmers here started offering a new "cherry" tomato - but it isn't exactly.

This is a hybrid - owned and available only through Johnny's -

http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-6966-tomatoberry-garden.aspx

I don't know entirely why I love it: the right texture, a good amount of flavor, it's just a GREAT tomato.

In any case, Mr. Spoon asked a couple weeks ago, and they weren't picking and bringing them at that time. So, last week, they picked and brought two clamshells just for me.

This week, SCORE! Mr. Spoon came home with four containers of little red tomatoberries. (Please don't feel sorry for him - he doesn't LIKE fresh tomatoes.)

So, I'll be over here making a piggie of myself if anyone is looking for me.

My husband and I are big fans of tomatoes. The house we bought already had some raised beds in the backyard, so we devoted one of the larger ones to tomato plants. While I am tired of the summer heat, I will miss eating fresh tomato sandwiches when it finally gets cold enough to freeze.

Also, thanks for including the link to that tomato! I showed it to my husband and he said he'd keep it in mind for next year's garden.

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formergothardite

Since I don't really have a good spot for a garden, next year a relative is going to let me plant on part of his yard. I'm going to try and grow these:

http://www.rareseeds.com/ground-cherry/

If you have read the Little House series you might remember Ma making a jam out of these. :D

ETA: I also want to find a way to grow pawpaws. It makes me sad that there are plants that used to be so common to eat and are now almost impossible to find.

http://www.ourstate.com/pawpaws/

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SpoonfulOSugar
Wild persimmons are some of the best fruit I have had. They don't taste anything like the persimmons sold in the grocery store.

I was reading "unique or traditional" (something like that) dishes from each state on an article last year and realized I don't even have a clue what a persimmon is, much less what it would taste like in a dish. My mother pointed some out to me in their Walmart, but we didn't buy them. I don't remember why.

I tend to assume that most wilds are better than their cultivated cousins. I like trying heirloom tomatoes, although I have some that I really disliked. I also know of a number of people in the state who are working to preserve heirloom apple varieties because many of them have qualities that might be valuable.

My husband and I are big fans of tomatoes. The house we bought already had some raised beds in the backyard, so we devoted one of the larger ones to tomato plants. While I am tired of the summer heat, I will miss eating fresh tomato sandwiches when it finally gets cold enough to freeze.

Also, thanks for including the link to that tomato! I showed it to my husband and he said he'd keep it in mind for next year's garden.

We have friends near Fort Hood. She's been saying the heat is horrible there right now.

We've covered a section of the yard with the intent of converting it to raised beds and containers. It's a bit of a slow process - lots of elements! :)

I hope you guys find that tomato really luscious! It's really a favorite of mine. I haven't tried growing it yet, but I am definitely thinking about it.

Since I don't really have a good spot for a garden, next year a relative is going to let me plant on part of his yard. I'm going to try and grow these:

http://www.rareseeds.com/ground-cherry/

If you have read the Little House series you might remember Ma making a jam out of these. :D

ETA: I also want to find a way to grow pawpaws. It makes me sad that there are plants that used to be so common to eat and are now almost impossible to find.

http://www.ourstate.com/pawpaws/

The ground cherries look really interesting! Baker Creek is on my FB (and very close to where the Little House books were written.) I'm growing more and more obsessed with them. The last time I was near there, things didn't work out to visit, but I hope to at some point. (They're closed on Saturdays/open on Sundays. I think they're a flavor of 7th Day Adventist.)

Why am I hearing, "Way down yonder in the paw paw patch"? (I need the singing notes.) We want to grow elderberries, but haven't yet.

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SpoonfulOSugar

Farmers' Market Saturday here!

Tomatoes (strawberry and a large yellow heirloom)

Brussels sprouts

New potatoes

Peas

Cucumbers

Also, I'm starting to pick cherry tomatoes off our containers.

Any suggestions for cooking the brussels sprouts?

What are you all working with for produce right now?

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blessalessi

My tomatoes are now ripening nicely, but the leaves are starting to yellow, so I am guessing the plants will start to die off before the full harvest is picked this year. Last year was gloriously hotter and my tomato plants were well-picked over and well-straggly by the time the first leaves wilted.

I made one boiling of fresh peas from my plants this week, though if I am honest, I picnicked on so many pods while they were growing that it was lucky any made it into the kitchen at all. :D

I love brussells sprouts just lightly boiled myself.

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SpoonfulOSugar
My tomatoes are now ripening nicely, but the leaves are starting to yellow, so I am guessing the plants will start to die off before the full harvest is picked this year. Last year was gloriously hotter and my tomato plants were well-picked over and well-straggly by the time the first leaves wilted.

I made one boiling of fresh peas from my plants this week, though if I am honest, I picnicked on so many pods while they were growing that it was lucky any made it into the kitchen at all. :D

I love brussells sprouts just lightly boiled myself.

I have successfully suckered Mr. Spoon into re-learning to make risotto (he says it's been 20 years; I had never had any) so we had fresh pea risotto for lunch.

He also got some coffee from a new vendor - I'm not sure if I like the flavor, but it's . . . interesting! *wincing smile*

Cooking channel was doing ingredient info about sprouts just yesterday. It's only been the past couple of years that I've had them fresh. I like most veggies in that family steamed, but I am trying to branch out a bit. My problem with food has always been that I know what I like and stick to my comfort zone more than I should, I think.

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ArmchairTurnip

New to the forum (though I've been lurking) - hi, everyone!

I've been slightly obsessed with the idea of edible landscaping since moving to the Midwest and buying a house. The lot is just under a quarter acre, and in addition to six raised beds for vegetables, we've planted five fruit trees, three currant bushes, a hedge of Nanking cherries, and a grape arbor. This time of year I am a canning machine (today alone I put up three gallons of cucumber kimchi and 21 quarts of peaches, and I should have kept going with the tomatoes, which have taken over the kitchen, but I ran out of oomph.) I haven't purchased produce, except for onions, since the middle of May.

Everything I've canned will keep, and some things - onions, winter squashes, a tree's worth of Asian pears - can be successfully cozied along, at least for a while, in cold storage. But then the howling vortex of white death descends for close to six months, and we're back to buying spinach from California.

Was it Emily and Dna who tried to grow lettuce on their windowsill?

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SpoonfulOSugar
New to the forum (though I've been lurking) - hi, everyone!

I've been slightly obsessed with the idea of edible landscaping since moving to the Midwest and buying a house. The lot is just under a quarter acre, and in addition to six raised beds for vegetables, we've planted five fruit trees, three currant bushes, a hedge of Nanking cherries, and a grape arbor. This time of year I am a canning machine (today alone I put up three gallons of cucumber kimchi and 21 quarts of peaches, and I should have kept going with the tomatoes, which have taken over the kitchen, but I ran out of oomph.) I haven't purchased produce, except for onions, since the middle of May.

Everything I've canned will keep, and some things - onions, winter squashes, a tree's worth of Asian pears - can be successfully cozied along, at least for a while, in cold storage. But then the howling vortex of white death descends for close to six months, and we're back to buying spinach from California.

Was it Emily and Dna who tried to grow lettuce on their windowsill?

You are indeed a canning machine! I'm impressed (and frankly, a little jealous) with the size of your gardening.

And, yes, it was Emily who did that. Some of us in northern climes are a little desperate to grow things.

I didn't realize Asian pears were popular as a tree in the US.

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blessalessi

When I have grown things myself, I prefer to keep it simple and either eat things straight off the plant, or with minimal extra ingredients. I don't know why, possibly just childish glee that I created this thing all by myself. :)

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ArmchairTurnip
I didn't realize Asian pears were popular as a tree in the US.

I don't think they are, by and large. I planted this one the first spring in the new house; it was one of those multiple-variety grafts from Raintree Nurseries, which I think is somewhere in Oregon or Washington State. I chose it because I read that it was resistant to a pest that's common to European pears, west of the Mississippi River ... and because I personally love dashi pears, both fresh and pickled (in a lemon brine with matchsticks of ginger). There are about two hundred on the tree right now, I'd estimate.

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from the bible belt

Maybe i don't belong here because i am not growing my own stuff but i love cooking! Italian, greek, french, dutch, thai as long as it is cooking from the start. Except i use boemboes (almost fresh herb mixes i buy in a toko or even the supermarket if they are good)

Yesterday i made nasi goreng (indonesian fried rice) and today i am making ragu with chicken, mushrooms, herbs and rice.

First post in this topic but i sure want to learn from others how they prep food

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