Wednesday, July 11, 2007

locavorousness (?)

So, a friend tells me the local co-ops are sponsoring some sort of "eat local challenge" this august (perhaps the only time it might be reasonable for a good number of folks up here in the frozen northlad, though of course 100 years ago, or even 50, most people ate mostly local food, I would think)

So, initially, I thought, well, in august you should be able to eat EVERYTHING local. Sometimes I think I'd like to live off tomatoes alone (but then my mouth starts getting sores from the acid...)

But then I thought, no chocolate, no cofee (that's not SO hard, but I usually have some a few times a week), no banannas, etc. Not to mention having to check out things like bread, no rice (except wild rice! mmmmmm!) PLUS, I like to eat in restaurant (hippie/eco-friendly restaurants mostly, but still) - no popsicles, except for homemade.... It will be an interesting challenge for me.

Actually, I think the goal is only 80%, which seems like it should be quite do-able (but measured how? calories? money spent? types of food? weight?)

Right now, I am eating something that I grew in my tiny city-lot yard every day. It's an exciting sort of connectedness, though never enough for a whole meal. Last night I have 6 green beans and a largish cherry tomato with my vegan sausage (made in CA or VT or somewhere) for dinner, very yummy. I am also getting at least 1 raspberry and 1 blueberry each day - my plants are still a bit young. The reliable stuff amidst my gardens is chard and kale. I think I should be able to eat something I grew every day, probably through september, but it will be interesting to see if it ever amounts to 30% of what I eat in a day, which would be nice (and maybe possible when and if the tomatoes come through) - I'm pretty sure I have done so every day since June 1, so hopefully it will be an "all summer" thing.

I have thought about keeping chickens, which is legal with neighbor approval in Minneapolis, but with my three exuberant young dogs, I think I'm already pushing it with the neighbors, and it would hardly be a peaceful place for chickens. It's always in the back of my mind though. I had a duck egg from a fellow "nightengale" (well, her duck) this spring, it was weird, but interesting.


Zach A said...

Hi Pam!
I've been reading a book called The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices, which aims to show which activities are seriously damaging and which aren't such a big deal. The main thing I'm taking away from the book is that, wow, cars are just far and away the big, big, big problem, and everything else is not nearly as bad. According to the book, at least for greenhouse gases shipping isn't a huge issue -- transport of fruit, vegetables and grains only amounts to 0.6 percent of total greenhouse gases, for example.

Not that that should be a license to eat/wear/etc. whatever we like as long as we don't drive so much, but it has made me a little less anxious about things like local purchasing, and more keen on biking and bike/mass transit activism.

And of course there are other reasons to buy local too - economics, connectedness...


earthfreak (Pam) said...

Great, I drove to work today :)

(which I'm not THAT sad about, because it's currently pouring, though biking in the rain can be fun too.)

I just requested the book from the library, we'll see if they get it. Maybe I'll even splurge and buy it instead, hmmmm...

I think it's a good point to weigh how much of an impact this or that has, still, I'd be surprised if food isn't a somewhat big one - after all, it's mostly shipped in climate controlled trucks, lots of miles. It's hard for me to see how eating, say 3# (?) of food that came halfway across the country that way every day is a lot less significant than driving to work every day.

Especially when you consider the total impact, and that if people buy locally, then perhaps there can be more local farmers, and more people can buy locally... etc.

Plus, it has other benefits, like you said, of building community (maybe) and just awareness is a big one for me! having seen the garden plot that grew my food actually makes a difference, even knowing that the farmer talked to the produce manager that I'm talking to makes a difference, in how I perceive it all.

I also wonder/ponder about spiritual impacts. I hate it when folks get all woo-woo and act like "connectedness" is more important than actually lessening pain and suffering, but I think there's a glimmer of truth in what they're saying (that it's important too, and integral)

Plain Foolish said...

When your tomatoes begin to come in in earnest, may I recommend putting up some of your harvest? Drying tomatoes (especially roma tomatoes) isn't terribly difficult, and means that you can have some of your own harvest in the depths of February. And I bet your local extension office could send you lots of information on safely canning and pickling tomatoes.

Yes, canning tomatoes is hot work, but it's also one of those things that can turn into sheer joy sometime when the snow is coming down like nobody's business, and you're having tomato and garlic pasta with toasted pine nuts on top. Plus, it's something that can be fun for a group of people to do together.

(Drying is much easier, but does tend to heat up the house, unless you've got a good area of sun exposure that you're willing to put a drying frame in.)

Essentially, cut romas (or cherry tomatoes, possibly, but romas are the best) in half. Sprinkle the cut sides with salt. You can also add any herbs that you know you'll want with the tomatoes at this point, but I never do, because I'd rather do them separately. Now, either put them in the oven at 200 degrees F, or else in a dehydrator, for hours, cut side up. Eventually, you'll have dried tomatoes just like the ones they sell by the pound at the Italian deli.

Zach A said...

One big difference between the food and the commute is that the 18-wheeler full of food is actually full, getting multiple tons of load carried per trip, and is much more efficient than normal car driving, where you use a 2-ton car to carry your 1/10-ton ass. If everyone commuted in buses they might be comparable though.