Tag Archives: Eat Local

From Pizza Night to Crazy Saturday Schedule

Day 6 in Eat Local Challenge Series

If the title of my Day 6 post didn’t give it away, there is too much going on today with our kids, soccer and school to put deep thought into a post. I have captured last night’s incredible Pizza Night and scrumptious dessert, as well as our protein-packed Saturday morning breakfast, along with links to more outstanding Vermont farms and food processors.

As the Eat Local Challenge winds down (we will be going through tomorrow since we got a late start), I am finding myself thinking reflectively about what me and my family have experienced and learned during this incredible week. I’ve also been envisioning how I would improve the Eat Local Challenge so that it considers the many little challenges one faces in eating local in Vermont.

With that in mind, please stay tuned for tomorrow’s 10 Joys of Eating Local and Monday’s 5 Ways to Improve Eat Local Challenges. They are already outlined and being turned over again and again in my head, but given the day me and my family have ahead of us, they will have to wait for more concentrated time.

Besides, it is an incredibly beautiful fall day in Vermont and I (surprising even to me) don’t want to be behind a keyboard when I can be outside sucking up as much sunshine and fresh air as I can.

Cheers!

Today’s Localvore Meals

  • Breakfast: This morning’s breakfast was designed to energize the family for a crazy mid day frenzy (soccer, school event, etc.). We served scrambled eggs (from local, free range chickens, of course) made with Strafford Organic Creamery (Strafford) Half and Half, Grafton Village cheddar cheese and Nardello peppers from our garden, along with Cob Smoked, Thick Sliced, Maple Cured Bacon from Vermont Smoke & Cure (South Barre) and Cold Hollow Cider Mill (Waterbury) apple cider. We ran out of our homemade local bread, so there was no toast (bummer). We will begin lobbying Red Hen Baking Co. (Middlesex), Manghi’s (Montpelier) and other local bakers to make more localvore breads before next year’s challenge!
  • Lunch: Today’s lunch will be a smorgasborg of (hopefully) local eats, as soccer and school activities have us running around from mid morning to mid afternoon. Some of us have packed snacks (I wasn’t fortunate enough to get leftover pizza) from our “Eat Local” fridge, but there will be other foods that may be too good to pass by. Of course, we will all try our best to keep on the local path (although my 13 year old daughter may stray a bit).
  • Dinner (Previous Night):  Pizza Night at the Smart home has always included homemade crust, along with lots of fresh produce from our garden and Wellspring Farm. With the local challenge, we opted for a whole wheat crust using Gleason Grains whole wheat flour and honey from Bee Haven Honey Farm. It was fantastic all by itself, but then we threw on top tomatoes, peppers and onions from our garden, Sweet Italian Sausage from Vermont Smoke & Cure and handmade Cherrywood Smoked Mozarella from Maplebrook Farm in Bennington, which placed 2nd at the 2009 American Cheese Society Conference (well deserved).
  • Dessert: Caramelized Apple Tart with Cinammon Custard (slightly modified for Challenge) from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors (link contains original recipe and cookbook review). Very good!
  • Wild Cards: French Roast Coffee, olive oil on pizza, Vermont wine (last night we had enjoyed, for the first time, a bottle of Cabernet Franc from East Shore Vineyard in Grand Isle)
  • Exceptions: Crushed red pepper (from bulk section of Hunger Mt. Co-op), vanilla extract (also from Hunger Mt. Co-op bulk section)

Related Posts:

  • Day 1 – Refrigerator & Pantry Stocked for Local Eating Challenge
  • Day 2 – Wrapping Our Heads around Eating Local
  • Day 3 – Thinking “Eat Local” Season v. Single Week
  • Day 4 – Seeing Shades of Local Food
  • Day 5 – Downsides to Eating Local?

Local Vermont Libations for Eat Local Challenge

So the weekend is upon us and it’s time to loosen up a bit. Perhaps have a libation or two. But how to do that without falling outside the Eat Local pledge my family has made that goes through Sunday?

I could always add “alcohol” to my Eat Local Wild Card list (you get five), but since alcohol is the result of a process made up of multiple ingredients and I can’t trace them on the typical label, I went looking for Eat Local worthy beers, wines and distilled libations.

Thankfully, we live in Vermont where the ingenuity of our fellow citizens and the quality of what they put out never ceases to amaze me.

But can they pull of “local” libations?

Microbrews

There is a great article in the Summer 2009 edition of Local Banquet (must-read Vermont foodie magazine) titled Drink Local that explains what it would take to create a truly local microbrew in Vermont. Not easy.

Worse?

It appears to me after some digging (but not enough) that it hasn’t been accomplished yet.

If you want to get as close as possible to an Eat Local brew, it would seem that you should head over to the Bobcat Café & Brewery in Bristol (ask the bartender for their most local brew using home-grown hops) or pick up some Wolaver’s Ben Gleason’s White Ale (uses Gleason Grains’ organic raw wheat, rolled oats and 2-row malted barley). I don’t believe they are 100% local, but after throwing back a couple cool ones, you may not care quite so much.

Your other option, which I think I will consider for next year’s Eat Local Challenge, is to put the key out-of-region ingredients in your favorite Vermont microbrew on your “Wild Card” list.

Wineries

While Vermont has plenty of wines made from various fruits, I’m focusing on grape-based varieties, primarily made from Cayuga, Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, LaCrescent, Marquette, Riesling, St. Croix and Traminette grapes (learn more here).

What we find are a handful or two of wineries using cold-hardy grapes to make some pretty tasty wines.

Our personal favorites come from Boyden Valley Winery in Cambridge. My wife and I have visited the winery several times and have tried just about everything they’ve made. Having seen the grapes growing on their vines, and not knowing enough about the wine-making process, I can’t say their wine is 100 percent local, but I can tell you it’s worth getting a bottle for this weekend (or any other one for that matter).

Be sure to try Boyden Valley’s Vermont Ice and Vermont Ice Red dessert wines. If you visit the winery, be sure to ask them to describe how it’s made. Fascinating!

Hard Alcohol

Seven Days recently published a piece titled Beyond Bathtub Gin that tells the story of several up-and-coming Vermont distilleries. You should read the article, but if you’re looking for a short cut to “what to buy”, then here is a summary of what’s available.

Here’s to living, eating and drinking in Vermont!  And, please, for all of our sakes, please add options that I’ve missed to this post.

Have a great (and safe) Eat Local weekend.

Cheers!

Downsides to Eating Local?

Forget for a moment all the reasons you might have heard for why eating local isn’t practical or easy, including anything I have mentioned over the last week or so.

While there are some legitimate obstacles in eating local foods on a regular basis and over time, none of those things should discourage any one of us from trying. I, for one, am very thankful for the experience, and fully expect that my family’s local content in the food we eat will be significantly higher going forward.

So, what happens if more and more people figure out how to eat more local foods? Given the well-established and pervasive industrial food system (from seeds to retail), such changes would surely have a significant impact on today’s balance of power.

How would the federal government’s commodity crop subsidies be impacted? And what would we do with the huge surpluses already being produced? Would the increased consumer demand for edible crops give farmers the incentive needed to begin transitioning farmland?

How would more local food impact the 50,000 square foot supermarkets dotting our cities and towns with tens of thousands of items on the shelf, many of which are highly processed and/or far from local foods? Would they adapt their infrastructure to accommodate regional supply, even though their systems are highly centralized? Would they lose sales and be forced to adapt?

Would concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) be put out of their misery (pun intended)?

Clearly, for every increase in local eating, someone or something loses out. It isn’t hard to see that the massive multinational corporations found at each stage of the food chain, along with their owners and investors, would be the biggest losers. Because moving toward local (or regional) food economies decentralizes the power structure and money flow that these entities have worked so hard to concentrate and control since the early 1980s.

So if massive corporations and shareholders lose, then who wins?

Small to medium sized farmers. Regional food producers. Locally or regionally-owned food retailers. But the biggest winners will be consumers, who will increase the amount of healthy, nutritious and tasty food they consume.

Seems like a great outcome doesn’t it? There just one thing standing in our way – money. More specific, the idea of large corporations giving up market share and profits to far smaller local and regional food businesses is hard to imagine, since these companies are already spending tens of billions of dollars marketing their products.

Is this what we really want driving our diet? Corporate profits?

If you’re like me and my family, then the answer is absolutely not, so we will struggle through poor labeling of local foods, we will continue supporting our CSA farm, our above average expenditures at our local food co-op, and participate in every eat local challenge that comes our way.

After all, in the end it’s up to consumers to decide.