Saturday, May 8, 2010

Looking Locally, Thinking Seasonally

I just started reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingslover (and her husband and daughter). So far I am finding the book fascinating. The books details the authors' family journey to almost entirely eat locally, and therefore eat seasonally for a complete year.

There are difficult parts in it for me. For one, there is an underlying tone of evolutionary theory that bothers on occasion. However it is slight and easy for me to "re-view" those references in light of the wonder of how God created us, and our natural surroundings. The other issue I have is a little harder to reconcile. As I am reading about how the industrial food complex has warped our view of food, my other half is out planting soybeans on our farm land to be sold to the very same industrial food complex. Much of what we earn comes from "modern" agriculture. And I don't think all modern agriculture practice is bad. But I will give the author credit, she is not railing in her book, and though I find some of her views disconcerting I can understand where she is coming from and don't feel brow beaten.

However the major theme of the book: sourcing our food locally and eating seasonally rings so true to me. It is interesting. I am surrounded by corn and soybean fields. Most belong to family farms, but most will also be sold to be processed into things that look nothing like corn and soybeans, or shipped out to far-away feedlots. Yet sustainable living and local food sourcing is also not uncommon among these same farmers. Sure our fields of corn go off to the industrial complex. But along the edge we grow pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes...

Many of the farm wives I know (including me) can and preserve. I can name several friends with small flocks of chickens. And almost all the dairy farmers I know drink there milk just "one step" away from the udder, even though they sell the rest to be homogenized and pasteurized. There is a farmer's market in town every Saturday in seasonable weather. But there is also a direct selling family garden about 2 miles due east of my home.

To be honest it would never occur to me to buy a cucumber or zucchini in February. Of course I am aware I will be trying to find some open car windows to sneak the surplus into in August. (OK, I have never actually done that, but I have been known to occasionally beg someone to take them.) Although I do it on occasion, I hate buying tomatoes in winter, rally they taste nothing like a "real" tomato. However, I don't think a lot about where the foods I don't produce abundantly come from. In many of those cases I have rarely eaten truly fresh versions, so maybe I don't notice the inferior quality.

Maybe because of the beginning of garden season, I have notice that this is a popular topic in the blog world recently. I know I can do better about local sourcing my food, without much effort. Some of my goals for this are:
  1. Looking into options for buying fresh milk.
  2. Arranging to buy fresh eggs.
  3. Building dark storage for our root crops.
  4. Trying to local source our poultry (we already local source our beef and pork)
  5. Visiting our farmer's market and nearby direct produce seller.

Of course my biggest challenge is still turning this food into meals that receive a good reception from my family. So my biggest goal of all is learning how to use all those local seasonal foods at dinner time.

No comments: