Hello dear readers!! We are 2 weeks in with our eating local project which you can read about here; and I can’t begin to tell you what an awesome and eye opening experience it has been thus far. I feel like I have come full circle and to be honest, to eat food grown in the soil where we call home has been somewhat of a spiritual experience. Not to sound all hippy-dippy (but I’m going to), we as a family have never felt more connected to our community, to each other, and to our health as we do now. I had no idea that this was going to be the outcome of our 100 mile radius food sourcing, but here we are, and I’m happy. Six years ago, when I first started eliminating processed foods from our diet I was slightly obsessed with what the food WAS on my plate rather than WHERE it came from. Over the last few years I have become more aware of the importance of knowing and trusting our food sources and how the choices I make will impact not just the health and well-being of my family but also the world at large. Thus, the local project has ensued. Here’s what we know about eating locally grown and produced foods and why we have committed to this project:
1. Food grown closer to home is more nutrient dense, tastes better, and forces us to eat seasonally.
2. Eating local is good for the environment; we are making a smaller footprint and helping to preserve green space and local farmland.
3. We know exactly where our food comes from which helps with food safety, accountability, and we feel more connected and proud of where we source our food.
4. Community. We all need it. It’s part of being happy. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul to shake the hand of the person who works so damn hard to provide and sustain us with REAL, honest food is extremely satisfying.
5. Locally grown food supports local economy. Times are tough, let’s face it. When you purchase directly from the grower/producer of your food you cut out the middle man which saves YOU money and puts your hard earned cash into the hands of the hardworking farmer who feeds you; and that my friends is a beautiful thing.
6. You can save money. Try committing to even 50% of your food being sourced as locally as possible and stick to it. Do not eat out. Eat your leftovers. Reduce your waste by buying fresh vegetables and eating all of them. Plan ahead, cook in bulk, bring food with you, and watch your bank account become a bit more stable as your health, both mentally and physically improves. We have stopped our mid-week run to Trader Joe’s or Safeway because I want to make a “certain” recipe that calls for a “certain” item and of course returning home with 85 thousand other things that we really do not need; thus, the money saving has been BIG. Bigger than I expected when forced to utilize only what we have.
7. Your kids can get involved! It’s been super cool to see the level of awareness change for my kids. I’ve heard Rowan ask friends “Is this local?” which beyond being incredibly cute is also incredibly cool! To give a greater understanding of our food production, location, and value for our children, in my opinion, is invaluable.
8. Any effort is AMAZING effort! Don’t feel guilty if you can’t do it; depending on where you live and the time of year, it might be a lot harder for you than it is for me to source all/most/or even a percentage of your food locally HOWEVER, you can also take matters into your own hands and rely on yourself for even a small amount of your own food. Get a backyard hen or two for eggs (more on that in a future blog post). Plant a small garden. If you do not have space for a garden, make a planter box and at least plant your own herbs. Help to start a community garden. Go to Eat Wild and Local Harvest and you might be surprised at the abundance of local resources you actually have and didn’t even know about!
9. Remember that even small changes can produce big results. Corny as it sounds it’s true – we all can make a difference.
So, what have the last two weeks looked like for us?
As I have mentioned before, I feel like we have been pretty close to sourcing most of our food within a 100 mile radius, the reality is, we were not as nearly close as I thought! Prior to our project, I would mindlessly go to our local health food stores, meander through and pick up pretty much whatever it might be that I would want or need. For example, organic onions and sweet potatoes would fly into my cart without a second thought, spinach and cauliflower would follow, mixed salad greens, garlic, and artichokes. On to the fruit! I would buy plantains and bananas, a few mangos and sometimes fresh young coconuts, berries, oranges and apples; all favorites of my kiddos. Of course my typical shopping trip would include Bubbies pickles or sauerkraut if needed and butter or ghee, heavy cream for John’s coffee, and sometimes the random bottle of Kombucha if I’m behind on making my own (by the way, I’m always behind on making my own…).
So, enter week 1 of our “Local Project”! We made our first shopping trip on Monday December 30th. On Sunday the 29th we had returned from our Christmas Vacation and we had very little food in our house so we figured we might as well jump into our project with both feet. To be honest, I have never really payed too much attention to how local the “local” produce is at my favorite little health food store here in Chico, so I figured that the majority of what we needed would be fair game. We had missed our farmers market by a day but thank goodness for our stores that do support our Chico area farmers. John and I entered the store, and realized quickly however that to stay within our pre-determined 100 mile radius, our choices of what we could buy would be limited. We left with greens, lettuce, apples, mandarins, broccoli, bacon, beets, butter, and carrots and felt grateful for our supply of Massa Natural Meats at home. The typical staples like onions, garlic, and sweet potatoes did not make it to our cart after we realized that these are NOT available this time of year from the Chico area farmers that sell to our health food store. Wow. Ok. A week without garlic and onions. That was interesting and I’ve never used more granulated garlic and onions in my life but we managed…
Week two and going into week three has been a lot easier because we have been in town for our Saturday farmers market. For both of our market visits we have felt like kids in a candy store and have been able to stock up on more goodness than I could have ever imagined. I have always loved going to the market but because my fridge is usually stocked with items from Costco, the health food store, or Trader Joe’s, I wouldn’t always rely on the market as much as I should have/could have. In short, I have completely taken for granted just how great our market is! Locally we have available to us everything from fresh almond milk to bacon. We’ve also had lots of fun making our own lunch meat, and I highly doubt I’ll ever buy pre-made lunchmeat again (sorry Applegate Farms) now that we have our awesome meat slicer. This one piece of equipment is going to pay for itself fast and in an extremely delicious way. In short, this project is working and we are loving it. After this month is over, there are a few things that I will source outside of our 100 mile radius, for example, our coconut products, fat from Fatworks, and tropical fruits, but I want our ratio of locally grown foods in our fridge to be closer to 90% rather than the 50% I have been doing in the past.
Now, enjoy a few pics and recipes of our seasonal/local/delicious meals we have been enjoying over the last couple of weeks. In comments, tell me what’s in season in your area? How “local” do you eat? Are you interested in joining us in your own local project? What ideas do you have to make this more realistic for everyone? What recipes to do you want to see on the blog? Talk to me people, I love to hear from you!
Typical breakfast! Braising greens sautéed in bacon fat with eggs over easy and bacon from Llano Seco. *eggs from our own backyard hens.
Making roast beef deli meat with our new meat slicer!
Recipe for roast:
2 lb cross rib roast
2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoons ground marjoram
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. Brush the entire roast with balsamic vinegar.
3. Mix together the spices and salt and rub into the balsamic covered roast.
4. Back uncovered in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 and roast for an additional 50 – 60 minutes or until the internal temp reaches 125.
5. Let rest for 20 minutes before slicing. If you are going to slice it thin like we did using a meat slicer, refrigerate overnight before you slice.
We’ve been doing lots of bone broth and soup! Here’s how we make our bone broth using beef knuckle bones or marrow bones form Massa Natural Meats!
2 pounds beef shanks or marrow bones
enough water to cover bones plus about 4 cups more
3-4 carrots, cut into large chunks
4-6 garlic cloves, cut in half
3-4 leeks, sliced
1 tablespoon black whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Sea salt to taste
optional – parsley, coriander seeds, onion, celery (we do not have onion or celery now because of our local project, only leeks and spring onions so we are using what we have!)
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 and roast the marrow bones or beef knuckle bones for 30-45 minutes or until browned, turning once half way through the cooking time.
2. Add the bones to a crock pot or a stock pot, add the water and drop in the remaining ingredients plus a few big pinches of sea salt.
4. If using your slow cooker, turn on low and let your bone broth do it’s magic for 12-24 hours. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, discard the remains (or feed the scraps to your chickens and give the bones to your dogs). Taste and season to taste with more sea salt if desired.
5. If simmering on the stove, bring to a boil, turn down to low and simmer for at least 4 and up to 8 hours, adding water as needed. Follow directions above to strain. Taste and season with more sea salt if desired.
5. The bone broth will gell in the fridge and form a layer of fat. If you like, you can scoop off the fat and save for cooking, roasting, sautéing, flavoring.
Soup! Here’s one of many soups we have been making. This soup is made with the broth recipe from above and after the broth was finished and strained I added carrots, kale, spring onions, parsley, and sliced Italian sausage from Llano Seco. We have eaten this many times for breakfast with a poached egg on top. Delicious!
Dinner – bone broth soup made with chicken feet from Wookey Ranch, steak from Massa Natural Meats topped with garlic parsley butter (butter from Sierra Nevada Cheese Company), roasted broccoli and winter squash roasted and sautéed with greens.
Grilled steak with roasted purple potatoes and leeks (yes we eat potatoes occasionally), salad greens with local walnuts, beets cooked in the pressure cooker, apples, and spring onions dressed with olive oil from California Olive Ranch and balsamic vinegar from Lucero.
Flank steak topped with mushrooms, parsley, and spring onions sautéed in bacon fat and butternut squash soup made with apples, leeks, garlic, and butter.
Spaghetti squash tossed with butter and sea salt, roasted beets and carrots, salad with local almonds and apples, sausages from Llano Seco.
Unpacking a recent order from Massa Natural Meats!
Fun at our Farmers Market!
What our fridge looks like after a Farmer’s Market trip – Beef and almond milk on the top shelf (the boys even made Ice Cream with the almond milk using persimmons, apples, and cinnamon!) Mushrooms in the brown paper bag, cabbage next to the mushrooms, and left over spaghetti squash in the back, more meat on the next shelf – local sausages and ham, veggies on the bottom shelves – spinach, lettuce, kale, beets, leeks, spring onions, sunchokes, broccoli, carrots, turnips, and more stuff I am forgetting!
Bedtime snacks have typically been apples and almond butter from Maisie Jane’s!
As always enjoy!!