Wednesday, September 1, 2010

No Impact Week Day 4: Food

**If this is the first post you are reading on No Impact Week,
you might want to read this one to orient yourself.**

Sierra Club No Impact Week's Day 4 is food-focused.

And if you regularly read A Mom Writing, you know I have been working on greening our food habits for awhile.
Are we great at it? Not yet.
Are we better than we used to be? Holy wow, yes.

The key to local eating ** local= food grown within 250 miles of your locale** is in knowing where you live. I grew up in the town we live in currently, but I didn't know the farms in the surrounding area. I didn't know the farmers market dates. I didn't know a lot of things, but when I looked, I found it.

And FINDING it has made it possible for us to have the following local products on a regular basis:

1. Fruit: peaches, apples, berries, plums, tomatoes, etc.
2. Veggies: string beans, swiss chard, peppers, eggplant, cucumber, corn, etc.
3. Meat (as in of the grass-fed, free range kind): beef, lamb, chicken
4. Dairy: butter, cheese (limited choices on the cheese)
5. Bread: fresh-baked "green" bakery bread, rolls, etc.
6. Wine: a full range (but cranberry wine from Valenzano winery is my favorite)
7. Other (as in of the cage free, organic kind): eggs, herbs, flowers

I think it is important for me to mention now that you will find animal protein in our diet. We are not vegetarian or vegan, and while I think those eating habits are fabulous, our family is comfortable eating meat. We are not comfortable eating protein sourced from feedlots. We are not comfortable eating primarily corn-fed beef. Our feelings are that if the meat comes from a farm where animals are treated correctly and respectfully, without use of hormones or heavy use of antibiotics, we are happy eating it. Pastured protein is delicious and nutritious in moderation. We are always trying to develop alternative meal ideas for dinner featuring protein from beans or quinoa, etc., though.

WHERE did I find the information to get all of that food locally?
An online directory of farms, CSAs, farmers markets, and events. Search by your zip code and see what is near you. I would have never known an alpaca farm is within 20 miles of my home if I hadn't searched. And if you look on here before your go on vacation, you can still eat farm fresh food on vacation (Yes, we did this. The picture below is from Ludlow, Vermont's Farmers Market)

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Let's get real here. I'm not a green saint-- we do sometimes get take out (it's usually pizza from our favorite place), and we do eat some processed food. The point of this week was to avoid it as much as possible so obviously we have not and do not plan on eating anything other than home-cooked meals. But we still bought some packaged, processed food. Here is a list of the non-local things we bought:

organic milk
whole wheat pretzels
a giant bag of organic pears
a giant bag of organic sweet potatoes
sandwich-style wheat bread
luna bars
clif bars
organic yogurtturkey bacon
mozzarella cheese
chocolate chips
organic pasta
organic fair trade coffee
organic half & half

**We gave up bananas and avocados for the week. We were inspired to switch from plain old coffee to fair trade organic for now. We are not ready to eliminate coffee from our diet, and if you saw No Impact Man, it seems that was the hardest thing for Colin Beavan's wife Michelle to give up, too. We don't drink coffee on a regular basis, and we will savor our moments with it.**

The No Impact Manual highly suggests swapping the processed for the local, and I am sitting here staring at this list trying to figure out what I would do differently. From the ingredients we purchased this weekend, here are some samples of the meals we are and will eat this week (Gabe has bits and pieces of these meals, but he also eats many of the foods I have already made, frozen, and written about here). I have bolded eight ingredients for us to research finding and purchasing locally.

Yogurt and Pear
Luna Bar
Cereal with Milk
Eggs with Cinnamon Toast
Local: eggs, butter
Not: ha, everything else.

Lunch One
Baked Potato with Tomatoes, Butter, Salt
Local: tomatoes, butter
Not: potato, salt

Lunch Two
Sweet Potato
and Pretzels with Peanut Butter
Local: Nothing

Dinner One
Free Range Pork Chops with Cinnamon Apples and String Beans
Local: pork, apples, string beans
Not: olive oil, cinnamon

Dinner Two
Pepper Cheese Omelets or Swiss Chard Omelets (with or without Turkey Bacon), Plums, and Bakery Bread
Local: eggs, pepper, swiss chard, plums, bakery bread
Not: cheese, turkey bacon, salt, pepper

Dinner Three
Pastured Roasted Chicken with String Beans and Potatoes
Local: chicken, string beans, butter, rosemary
Not: potatoes, salt, pepper, paprika, lemon, olive oil

Dinner Four
Chili Con Carne
Local: ground beef, tomatoes, corn, carrots, green pepper, red pepper
Not: pinto beans, red kidney beans, salt, pepper, chili powder, hot sauce, cumin, olive oil

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Local: butter, eggsNot: flour, white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, baking powder

Are you seeing a trend? I'm seeing a lot of spices and baking ingredients as main offenders. Other issues? Those foods which are not in season or native to our area, such as lemons, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pears.

A Tip on Eating Local All Year Long
Make and freeze local ingredients while they are in season. I made my first batch ever of tomato sauce this week to freeze, and I will be doing one big batch this weekend as tomato season comes to a close. Other great foods to freeze are green beans, peas, and corn.

Stay tuned for tomorrow when we pull the plug .
The power is going out (on everything possible).

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