A few weeks back I decided to participate in One Local Summer, a challenge to eat one completely locally grown meal a week. Everything in the meal (except spices and oil) is supposed to be produced within 100 miles of where you live, or at least locally by your own definition of local. After signing up, I've been thinking about it a lot and wondering if it was really possible for me to do this. I've been doing a lot of internet research and have found that I can get a lot more food than I thought locally, like milk, eggs, and meat, as well as surprisingly items, like johnnycake corn meal mix from Rhode Island. But I've also realized that there are key items I can't get locally grown. Like flour. And sugar. And baking powder.
This was opening week of my favorite farmer's market at the Food Project, but my work schedule took a left turn and I was no where near the farmer's market when it was open. This happens to me frequently. So I've been researching other options and trying to memorize which farmer's markets are available on which days in which parts of the metro Boston area, so if I happen to be in the area, I can swing by. One of the reasons to adopt a locally produced diet is to reduce carbon emissions from food traveling long distances. I realized if I'm driving all over Boston to get local foods, it kind of defeats the purpose. So Friday early evening, after getting stuck in traffic, I missed yet another farmer's market that was relatively close to where I was. That's when I decided to swing into a Whole Foods that was right on my route for a local foods challenge.
What could I buy at the beginning of growing season at a Whole Foods? Not much I figured. But I was surprised actually. Thanks to their signage, which identifies locally grown and produced items, I snagged quite a few items.
- 1 lb of freshly caught cod from Gloucester, MA
- 6 organic cage free eggs from the Country Hen, Hubbardston, MA
- 1/2 gallon of milk from High Lawn Farm, Lee, MA
- Boston lettuce from Absolona Greenhouse in Chepachet, RI
- 2 hydroponic tomatoes from Waterfresh Harvest in Hopkinton, MA
- bag of parsnips from Manheim Farm in Whately, MA
- bag of yukon gold potatoes packaged in Chelsea, MA, grown in Maine (>100 miles?)
- goat cheese from Westfield Farm in Hubbardston, MA
- tub of creme fraiche from Vermont Butter and Cheese Company (>100 miles?)
Even after picking up these items, I was a little worried about constructing a full meal. I have some regionally produced items in the fridge already, like Cabot's butter and Vermont yogurt. And some local produce in the freezer. I thought maybe I'd just show you a strawberry-peach smoothie I'd made in an attempt to clean out my freezer of last year's produce. Yes, a smoothie is a full meal in my book.
But I decided to get a little more creative. I realized that maybe I need to take the Sandra Lee Semi-Local approach to this challenge. I'm a beginner and there's a steep learning curve to sourcing local products. And, let's face it, I'm not an ultra-strict person and 100% adherence to the rules seems to be missing the point to me. There are different philosophies buzzing around in this localvore movement, and I'm okay with a little flexibility. So I settled on a meal that was more than 90% local. Good enough for a first try.
I've never eaten parsnips, so I decided to try a recipe for parsnip fritters. It required 1/4 c. of flour and a tsp. of baking powder. I decided to go for it, since trying a new food seems like an important outcome of this challenge for me.
Here they are: carrot-like and ready to be peeled.
And then grated and looking like a heaping bowl of cheese.
And here the fritters are frying up in little pats of butter. Mmmm butter.
The final meal consisted of herb and goat cheese scrambled eggs with tomato, parsnip fritters drizzled with Boston Honey, and a glass of local milk.
I'm not going to lie, I wasn't sold on the parsnip fritters, and neither was Matt, so if anyone else has ideas for how to cook up delicious parsnips, I'd gladly give them another try. But the eggs with goat cheese and herbs, I'll definitely be cooking those up again. Yum.