The Seven Days 100% Local challenge calls for 100% local eating for the week of April 18th. We’re participating, sorta. In honor of the challenge and Earth Day, I’ll be blogging for the next week about eating local.
Contrarian that I am, I’ll start off with a bit about what what my family does not eat local, as well as what we do. In the coming days, I’ll share a meal plan for the week based on what’s available here in Portland now, information about sourcing affordable local food, and preservation methods that make eating year-round tasty and nutritious.
While I am an advcoate of local eating, I personally don’t follow a 100% local diet and while the 100% local challenge is an interesting one, I know we won’t follow all the rules for next week’s challenge. For my family, eating local is an everyday, year-round practice and in order to keep us all happy, I cook with some select foods from afar. Here are my exceptions and reasoning.
- Since they can be dried in their place of origin and shipped (rather than flown, like a lot of farflung produce) the carbon footprint of spices is relatively low. Considering how much variety and interest they add to the diet, as well as their medicinal qualities, I have chosen not to exclude them from my diet or this menu plan. I buy whole, fair trade, organic spices in bulk and I grind them as I need them.
- I make my own vanilla extract with organic vanilla beans and organic grape neutral spirits from Alchemical Solutions.
- I have been waiting for someone to start producing Oregon Coast Salt, but in the meantime, I use Celtic Sea Salt, which I buy in bulk and grind by hand at home.
- Lemon and lime juice are in some of my canned goods and recipes. I buy Santa Cruz Organic juices in bulk. I also make preserved lemons when Meyer lemons are in season in California. While I use a lot of fermented fruits and vegetables to provide a tangy zip in most of our meals, lemons and limes are essential in some dishes.
- I use cheese making cultures (from New England Cheesemaking Co.), baking soda, and other products (wine, vinegar, salami) that may have yeasts, bacteria, enzymes, and preservatives from far away. Incredibly small amounts of these additives make homemade cheese, baked goods, bacon, and preserves possible in our everyday life.
- My family is on a grain-free diet, which actually makes it easier in some ways to eat local, as most of our meals are just meat or eggs and vegetables. One big exception to buying local is almond flour, which I use for baking. I buy it in bulk from Honeyville in California.
- We buy Marine Stewardship Certified Alaskan halibut and salmon. These fisheries are well-managed and still strong.
- We also eat coconut (milk, butter, oil) and I drink locally roasted fair trade, organic coffee. I make my own honey-sweetened chocolate.
- During the winter, I buy oranges, mangoes, and bananas for my kids. I torture them enough with restricting grains, sugar, and processed foods (which are basically grains + sugar + chemicals). This is my mother-guilt compromise. At least I can say that citrus is naturally at its peak in winter.
- Lastly, we do indulge in off-season fresh produce occasionally, particularly when I have a cold and want to make some Tom Kah with snow peas in mid-April. I make no claims of purity or perfection in any aspect of my life, but I do constantly strive to find ways to improve on what I’m doing.
The local foods we eat:
- Local meat and seafood, including beef, pork, lamb, goat, chicken, rabbit, turkey, duck, goose, tuna, crabs, salmon, trout, and shrimp. I the land animals are pastured, the seafood wild-caught. Like with everything, I make the most of the animal food we buy, making bone broths and rendering fats.
- Local milk (cow and goat), cream and butter, from which I make yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, creme fraiche, ghee, chevre, feta, cottage cheese, paneer, and mozzarella, though lately we haven’t been using much dairy at all.
- Chicken and duck eggs from our backyard birds or local farms when our girls’ production is low.
- Local fruits and vegetables frozen, dehydrated, jammed, pickled, sauced, fermented and juiced at home. We grow some ourselves, but most comes from local farms.
- Local nuts hazelnuts and walnuts.
- Local honey.
- Herbs that we grow ourselves or buy from local farms.
That’s a lot of foods! I couldn’t say for sure how much of our diet is local on a weekly basis, but I’d guess about 75-80% of our calories come from within 100 miles. Many of the farms I buy from are less than 30 miles from our home. Oregon’s awesome that way
While I’d like to get even more local foods into our diet, I’m pretty satisfied with where we’re at at this point. Considering that less than 10% of American meals are made from local foods, getting to even 50% of calories from within 100 miles would be a huge breakthrough. So, rather than encourage you to eat 100% local and then give up in frustration or culinary boredom, I’d like you to see what local eating can look like in my next post about a week of local-based meals, and learn how to get your own affordable, local food, which I’ll cover in subsequent posts.