It seems like a lot of people are getting into this local eating thing, taking the 3rd Annual Dark Days Challenge, and since it's the first of the year, making resolutions to do more with the local. I did the first annual Dark Days Challenge a couple of years ago and now it seems hard to believe how I used to shop and eat. Resolved: I will not buy or eat food-like substances. Resolved: I will spend as much of my food budget as possible directly with the people who grow the food.
Winter in a northern climate, I learned, is actually a great time to begin the exercise of figuring out where your food comes from. For one thing, there aren't so many other things going on. No gardening, no picnics, no trips to the lake taking up big swaths of time. Might as well check out The Meatrix to learn more about how meat gets to the supermarket. And then start looking for a local farmer you trust to buy meat from and start thinking about which CSA farm you might want to join this year.
Our farmers market, even in the dead of winter (right now) has: apples, cider, eggs, bread, meat, yogurt, greens, potatoes, onions, coffee, chocolate, popcorn, pasta, squash and mushrooms. There were fourteen vendors at the market last week and four of them were selling eggs! I don't know about you, but I can think of a lot of dishes to build around this list of ingredients. Along with what the Co-op has from Michigan, we're pretty well set on meat, dairy, eggs, bread, flour, beans and apples. We'll have squash, potatoes and onions for a little longer now. And soon more hoophouse greens, beets, and carrots will be showing up.
Breakfast especially has taken on a little local routine at our house. It was probably the first of our meals to get a local makeover. Now I usually make something like:
- Fried egg and toast
- Yogurt and granola
- Hardboiled egg with cottage cheese
- Scrambled egg with salsa and tortilla
- Oatmeal with maple sugar and milk
- Buttermilk pancakes or waffles with bacon on the weekends
- Breakfast strata or bread pudding for special occasions
- Or biscuits and sausage gravy
- Or quiche
- Or coffeecake
- Or scones or muffins
- Or clafouti
- Or potato pancakes with applesauce and yogurt cheese
I put leftover pancakes in the toaster for a quick week-day breakfast. No more paying $4.99 for a 12 oz. box of sugar and processed corn. Or throwing away a huge wad of packaging. I love that.