Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dark Days Eat Local Challenge, Growing Challenge

Well, it's been a busy week over here, so while we've been eating locally as much as possible, I haven't had the time to document anything with pictures or write out recipes.

Some of what I've been doing is the last of the planning and seed buying for this year's garden and starting our early transplants. We're concentrating on low upkeep and on growing things that will keep well in the storage room over the winter or that will can or freeze well this year. Our plan is to go heavily on the tomatoes, beans (dry and snap), winter and summer squashes, cucumbers (pickles), and root crops like onions, shallots, garlic, turnips, beets, rutabagas and parsnips (the last two will be new for us this year.) I'm working on our garden layout right now, so I can see how much of what we want to grow will actually fit in the space we have! I will probably do some self-watering containers for the peppers and eggplants and other things we're not going to grow a huge number of. With our long cool springs, peppers and eggplants will probably do better in containers anyway because the soil warms faster. For tomatoes, we're trying some new (to us) heirloom types that were bred to be more cold tolerant. Most of the varieties I've found seem to come from Russia, which is no surprise. And many of them are "black" tomatoes - which will be interesting, as we've never really grown any before, but they sound delicious in the descriptions and luckily no one in our family will flinch at purple-brown tomato sauces! I've already mentioned the turnip rooted parsnips in another post.

Another thing that's been taking my time this past week or so has been doing research on ways we can live a bit more lightly, compost a bit more, use less plastic, and eat more locally. I bit the bullet this week and ordered some local beef and lamb for the freezer. I'm sorry, but that last humongous meat recall was just one recall too many for me (this makes what - three major recalls in the past year?) So, we're not going to be eating much (if any) factory farmed meat from now on. We were headed that direction anyway, this just gave me some incentive to step things up a bit. My husband and I both agree that we'd much rather eat far less meat and pay more for it than to eat meat that came from poor unhealthy, dying, filthy downer cows or meat raised in unsanitary, environmentally damaging (and horridly cruel) factory farm conditions. It's probably better for our health to eat less meat anyway, and certainly better for our budget if we eat less of it, even if we pay more per pound. At least we'll know where it came from and have a good idea of the conditions under which it was raised and slaughtered.

On the plastics front, I'm trying to get our lunches as plastic and waste free as possible. We already have reusable containers and bento type lunch boxes, but I needed plasticless sandwich and snack wrappers. I ordered some PEVA lined wrap-a-mats and small wax paper bags for the small stuff, and some soywax paper for larger items. I don't see how we can put as much food in the freezer as I want this summer without using plastic, but I've settled on a compromise. I'm going to buy the very best quality heavy duty plastic freezer bags I can, and then commit to washing and reusing them. For meats, we'll be able to use butcher paper or aluminum foil - but that's not as practical for green beans or corn off the cob, I think.

At any rate, I do have a couple or three items up from this past couple of weeks for the Eat Local Challenge. But in addition to that we've also had Elk Stroganoff (yes, I decided it sounded too good not to make!) and today we're having beefy (actually, elk-y) vegetable soup with dumplings. We've also had bean burritos with homemade tortillas and cheese, and lots and lots of bread and cambozola clone. Oh, and one meatless Indian curry type vegetable stirfry over rice. And I found a local grocer that stocks at least some local vegetables in the winter, so we were able to restock our waning carrot and onion stashes. So we're still eating as locally as we can, even if I've been a bit too preoccupied with other things to document it! The good thing is, with these changes I'm making, we might actually surpass my goal of 50% local eating by the end of the year. I'm really jazzed about that!


Pale Ophelia Floats said...


Raw Food Diva said...

Foil? I thought foil was biodegradable. Could you use that in the freezer?

Idaho Locavore said...


No, I don't think foil is biodegradable, but it *is* very recyclable. I plan to use foil and butcher paper for as much freezing as I can, but I just don't think it'll work very well for things like corn off the cob, or tomatoes, or anything that's likely to be extra drippy going in or extra drippy thawing out. So that's why I'm planning to use bags, but wash and reuse as many of them as I can.