El Reno, Oklahoma
I have been married for 27 years to Victor and have 4 children. The two girls and two boys range in age from 25-10 years. We are pleased to still have one grandparent from each side of the family ... More about Margaret
I live in Minneapolis, in 1.5 story craftsman bungalow with beautiful woodwork, but a tiny lot. Sharing this space is my husband Brendan, 'baby' (5/07) and 'new baby' who is expected to join the fold in August. More about Sareen
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
My name is Gina, and my husband's name is Patrick. We have three children, ranging in ages from 1 to 5 years. Our household also includes my mother, who is living with us from September to May. More about Gina
Early January may seem an inauspicious time to begin an "eat local" project in Southwest Michigan. As if to underscore that point, nearly a foot of snow fell in Kalamazoo on January 3. More about Donna
St Louis, Missouri
My first father-in-law taught me to garden in the mid-1960s. Over the next few years, with a family of five to feed, I read everything I could find about nutrition ... More about Cher
Four years ago my five children, one husband, two dogs, one cat and I moved to the rural South from a large northern California city. We went from .12 acres to a rambling 57 acres. More about Vera
I also want to thank the nice people at The Splendid Table, they were kind and supportive....and Lynn is as kind and charming in "person" as on the radio :).
Thank you all for allowing me to participate in such an important and fun project.
Best regards, Vera
When I held my new born baby in my arms the feeling I had was pure, powerful unconditional love. So often people speak and write about love, how it consumes some people, how it guides and inspires people. The world we live in is often hard and unloving, injustice is something that is especially poignant and sad in the eyes of children. Then there is the personal effort to live in love, my words are often harsh, my gaze judgemental, my attitude resentful. And when I see the success and happiness of other people I often feel jealous and inferior rather than happy and inspired...............what a strange construct the human mind and heart are. The most consistent way of expressing love for me is through food......We have a lot of big parties with tons of kids running around, every night we sit together and eat.....it is not that pretty, often we bicker, there is often a fair amount of vulgar humor, but we have had many serious discussions about life, politics, drugs, relationships.....on and on. I have often suggested to people that we have seperate dinners, since Scott comes home so late at night, but the kids have consistenly and vehemently refused this option, they would not miss the time together even though it is often pretty stressful. I think hard about the food that goes into my childrens bodies, I want something that is doing no harm, so that means it must be organic.......this is not hurting the environment, it is less damaging to people working on the land and it is more nutritious.....great......We eat animal flesh that comes from happy free chickens and cows and pigs......milk and eggs from the same happy animals......the challenge of Locavorism added more complexities, is food from a factory organic farm any better than Purdue chicken.....(I was so angry and hurt and upset when I read the section about Rosies organic chicken in The Omnivores Dilemna). But strangely enough the Locavore experieince is still more love.......when we drink milk we know that the cows that gave it are not just well treated but loved and respected, the chickens we get our eggs from are named and adored, the vegetables and fruits are tended with thoughtfulness and care. When we eat we can name the person who grew many of the things or at least the place from which it came. The issues of money and time are such tough nuts in so many of our lives. We are not a wealthy family (well, I guess in context of the worlds standards we are very, very wealthy). One good income for seven (now six people) can not be thoughtlessly spent. We have health insurance, but twenty percent of cancer and asthma and mental illness puts us squarely in the camp of people that have health care related debt. Yet it is never a question that the highest priority is food, good tasting happy, healthy food.(I joke that we eat organic rather than buy clothes or take vactions). Cooking every night can be a exhausting, It is much easier to be creative when you are cooking for one or two easily pleased people....then the creative juices can really flow, whereas cooking for a large mix of young picky eaters is a bit of a pain. I can easily appreciate why people get prepared foods or eat in fast food restaurants. I think many people are very, very tired. I am inspired by Gina having a job and three young children and still making time to feed her family healthy food a priority. I am amazed that I vicarioulsy know Autumn,some one who can harvest maple syrup and changes cooking appliances the way some people change wardrobes, that I have met a person that in one year can accomplish the stunning amount of things that Donna has done, what commitment, ingenuity and hard work. I am priveleged to know someone like Cher who has gone through many difficult sounding things this year but always brings a deep thoughtful caring to her blogs......and Paulette with her descriptions of approaching things realistically, creatively and with such a rich access to resources and information....and the thought that some one like April could get a Phd, have a baby and move, while still Loacavoring is, to me, unbelievable. (I could go on but I am feeling so HARRIED).
I have loved being a Locavore. I have enjoyed getting to know my fellow Locavores through their entries. I have learned so much and been so inspired by the kindess, innovation and commitment of these fine people, I will miss being part of this group. I have appreciated the comments and advice I have received in response to my posts and the expressions of friendship. I WILL try to put in an electric fence, plant another garden, learn more about permaculture and other organic gardenings...I will make more of an effort to learn more about the foods offered by my community. I will continue to learn to be loving. I am feeling harried so I must go......imperfectly but with very great love and affection for my fellow locavore travelers, the people I have gotten to know this past year in my community and my wonderful friends in the Unschoolers of Memphis group and, of course my family.
With Very best regards, Vera
I have tried for many years to make a sourdough starter without adding any yeast, and baby let me tell you,some foul smelling concoctions have traipsed through my kitchen. Last month I finally succeeded.....I had a wonderful smelling functional sourddough starter that made truly delicious whole grain breads, moist, crispy crust, flavorful, you know, good bread.....the problem with sour dough turns out to be the same prolem I have with sprouts....this process needs more commitment and attention than a new boyfriend....and being a bit of the frazzled sort I sooner or later reneg on my commitment (hmmmm,maybe that is how I failed so miserably with my fifteen year old)......this time it was the week between christmas and new years, we were planning a nice new years day get together (totally local, black eyed peas, greens from the garden, Van Cheeseman brought his signature lettuce mix, Stan's country store sausages, homemade corn and sourdough bread with War Eagle grains, home brewed beer, Mozzarella from Mr. Helwigs milk), and an overnight party for all the kids, somehow in the preparations I accidentally left the big vat of sourdough tucked in a corner, I could have sworn it was in the fridge.....hopefully the truly interesting fuzzy colorful remainder will be good for my compost pile...oh and the smell.....I am trying again, because some day my children will be well educated, my house will be clean, I will make dinner on time, do Yoga and go to bed on time (hope springs eternal) and I will have a lovely antique crock with sweetly scented sourdough next to my verdant (not slimy) sprouts.......then Martha Stewart will come to my house to admire what a good job I have done!!!
My only other little story is about apples...one bad apple really does spoil the whole bunch girl, so if you have a lovely little box of apples neatly wrapped in individual newspaper packets, check on them once in a while, it is really hard to get it out of the house without making a mess once they all turn to liquid......it is hard to believe that just a couple of hundred years ago this kind of stuff was innate knowledege to most of our ancestors.
Best regards, Vera
Getting gifts from the Keenan family is always an exciting time. They subscribe to the idea that gifts should be extravagant items that one would never purchase for themselves. While this goes against my philosophy entirely (I have never known myself to be extravagant in anything), it was really hard to argue my point when I was drinking the best juice of my life at the breakfast table this weekend.
You see, I think I can now open my own juice stand with this gift. While we started with the recipe book, I am sure the most action this juicer is going to get is processing foods from the garden that we just aren't sure what to do with. Or, let be honest here, it will be used to make killer bloody mary's, watermelon margaritas, mimosas and other assorted cocktails.
But it is easy to get clouded when thinking of what this wonderful (and extravagant) machine can produce. We bought three bags of non-local oranges. One large bag of non-local tangerines. Oh, there was also the cantaloupe, mangoes and mint. The juice was good, but the fruit... none of it was snow covered.
The interesting thing about there recipe book is that it mentioned a few recipes for using the fiber or pulp left over from the juicing. This has my mind reeling. Of course you don't have to waste it. Sure, it can go in soups or even fritters. So I ask you, before I get around to trying to cook with this stuff. Have you or would you use the pulp from juiced fruit for another meal? What would you make? What do you suggest that I make?
This year was a self-discovery on the subject of food. I like to think we would have tried eating 80% local food without being in Locavore Nation, but I am not so sure. Being in Locavore Nation kept us committed during the darker days of last winter, when I am sure we would have caved in and taken up non-local foods.
The most important thing I learned this year, is that it is important to cook, and that by cooking I am helping the health of me and my family. It is difficult to eat local without cooking. I love cooking, but with three kids under 5, I was slacking a bit on the cooking detail (excuses, excuses). Before January of last year, I found I was buying more and more processed foods-even though most of them were organic. And I hadn't realize this was happening. I was a bit frustrated with the increase in cooking initially, but I discovered if you keep cooking simple, everyone was more happy. I got the meals on the table faster, and my kids prefer trying new things when they are separate and not mixed together.
We also added a lot of new foods to our diet as a result of being locavores. We, as a family, are now fans of turnips, ramps, beets, rutabagas, brussel sprouts, pumpkin seed oil and sorghum syrup. Two of my kids became huge fans of the brussel sprouts, even eating them raw, and my pickiest eater even decided he liked them. All of these items were included in our diet only because of choosing to "go local".
I also came to realize that Eau Claire has an awesome local food selection. We are very lucky in that regards. I must admit, it would be more difficult eating a locavore diet, without such good quality and diversity of local foods. There are tons of in season fruits and vegetables, ranging from cranberries to apples to sour cherries. Free, range or organic eggs are a plenty year round. Meat-well, though I am vegetarian, I am still amazed at what is available. Beef, elk, bison, turkey, pork, lamb, and chicken are all available at the farmer's market or Just Local Food Coop. It can be hard to not eat local. And being Wisconsin, there is well, lots of beer. I think any beer drinker would be amazed at the variety of local brews available. There are also some decent local wines available. And if you want vodka, there is a vodka made in Benson, Minnesota-still within our "local" circle-it is also near my hometown.
And then we come to my favorite, dairy products. Eau Claire is an epicenter of dairy. In the near past, the price for dairy in the nation was set in Eau Claire. It is nearly impossible to buy a dairy product in Eau Claire that is not produced within Wisconsin, even at a conventional grocery store. Wisconsin produces over 750 types of cheese, and the quality is amazing. Luckily, I adore dairy products.
One example of the amazing quality of local foods is we can have two types of organic, non-homogenized milk lines delivered to our home. One is Castle Rock Farms and the other is Crystal Ball Farms. Yes, the milk man is alive and well in Eau Claire. Just Local Foods Coop delivers the Crystal Ball Farms milk in a biodiesel vehicle even. How cool is that? The home delivery of milk has been a god-send for us as we go through over four gallons of milk a week, and those glass jars are heavy when being pulled in a Burley by a bike up a giant hill. The kids didn't appreciate being squished by the milk in the Burley either.
Well, we are hooked locavores. We plan on continuing this lifestyle, and continue to log our food purchases (it is easier to be accountable that way). We do not feel deprived, and it has so many great advantages from eating really good food to less garbage to less money to weight loss. Who can resist being a locavore?
Do you like talking to strangers? It may come as a surprise to anyone who knows either myself or Brendan, but we do not like talking to strangers. We even avoid ordering the pizza on the phone. It is a funny dance for us at the door of a restaurant that we haven't been to before - no one wants to go first.
What the heck does this have to do with being a locavore? You have to talk to a lot of people. You have to ask questions at the farmers market. You are the one slowing down the line at the meat counter trying to determine where your food came from. You have to talk with farmers about where to get what animal in what season. You have to blog to get others to keep the local community thriving.
This year has allowed us to get a little bit better at talking with folks. We are delighted when store clerks take that extra moment to acknowledge that we are there, and have been supporting them for a long time. I love the person that makes the first move and introduces themselves. But here are a few very simple questions we have:
1) How do you go about even learning the name of someone that you have been shopping with for a year. It seems a little late for introductions at this point. They know our names because of the credit cards or checks, but we are clueless.
2) When do you introduce yourself to a neighbor? We have our eye on some people in our alley that have a compost pile, a garden that expands every year, they hang their clothes on the line to be dried, they are heating with firewood and use a push mower. They seem just like our kind of people but have been there for at least two years and we haven't made the move to say hello.
3) When you do find out that something doesn't have quite the providence you were looking for, how do you tell someone: "Thanks but no thanks." I feel bad.
Again, this year has helped us to start all of our new relationships on a better foot, but it is hard to go back and get the necessary information on the preexisting people in our lives. I am going to guess the answer is: be honest, apologize and have a laugh over it. But I am hoping there are some savvy communicators out there that have ideas.
Be brave. These people are fun!
So here I am, reading everyone's blog entries and thinking: "Did I miss something?" I am someone who likes to take a project and get right down to the work of it. There are plenty of times that I miss out on the details of what is or should be going on.
I am sure I mentioned it, but initially, I did not know what I was committing to with this project. The first survey was something about local food, I knew that. I just filled out the form because I thought they just wanted to have a sense of what is going on with communities around the US. There was a follow up questionnaire, again, I didn't really read it I just promised to keep doing what we have always done. Turns out. There was commitments and blogging. Oops.
That was an interesting conversation at the dinner table. Hi Honey, I think I just signed us up to blog about eating locally. Oh, and we have to have all of our food from with in 500 miles of here. While other families were thinking and wondering, can we or should we do this? What will this really mean? I came home and said we should make a life changing decision just as easily as one would say "I think we will order a pizza for dinner." Good thing Brendan has a sense of humor.
And lots are talking about the lack of publicity or support. Again, I feel like hmmm.... what should we have gotten? I think there were promises made, but heck, I was too busy doing to worry about the details of how to do it. Sure I thought I might get to meet Lynn, or that there would be a bit more known about the project. Plenty of people asked me from day one. "you are going to do what? And you are going to get nothing for doing it?" Yep. If we even get the word out to one person. Heck, if blogging keeps us on track. Whatever works, ya know.
It is weird. I had this moment when I was at the store. This whole adventure is coming to an end - I could buy some Doritos. It quickly faded. I am not a Dorito eater. I don't eat locally because the Splendid Table told me to. I don't eat locally to impress the few people who are reading. We ate semi-locally before the project, and eat mostly-locally now.
It is like most changes I make in my life. I find it easier to make the change when there is more then one reason for the change. I started to commute by bike a few years ago. It is exercise and great for the environment. I eat locally. It tastest better, is cheaper and is better for the environment. I garden. It is a relaxing hobby, produces food and (i am getting redundent) is good for the environment. But there are other things. I am playing broomball. This is great exercise and a social outlet. Brendan makes beer. This is tasty, more economical and a great hobby.
If you can find a way to have more than one reason to do something, I find it sticks better. It shouldn't be just because January rolls around again and you want to try something new. Find real reasons, more then one to do what you want to do. That way, when you are willing to compromise on one of the goals, the other is there to support you. There are plenty of days I think about a quick and easy meal on the go. I never want to take the babies out of the car to go in and get something but the bottom line is, I can't let my neighborhood buisnesses down. If you have ever tried a breakfast sandwich from the Colossal Cafe, you would understand why McD's will never ever ever cut it. I am hungry just thinking about it.
I could go on. I have a lot to say. But the bottom line is, the Keenan family is apparently made up of "do-ers." When the work needs to get done, we roll up our sleeves and get it done. In my world, once you are getting dirty and getting into a project, the size of the project doesn't make much of a difference. We had lasagnae for dinner last night. There is only a little more work involved to make four pans instead of only one. So that is what we did. The results? Delish.
Just like my posts never end where they started, this project hasn't either. Things evolve over time and I think it is in my nature to just go with them. Hopefully this has been a welcome addition to some people's blog reader and I haven't revealed too much of the crazy that lurks in my family walls! We are normal people 99% of the time! Take care.
A few years ago, I realized our daughter was more comfortable talking while she was a passenger in the back seat of our car than just about anywhere else. Apparently, this isn't unusual; several friends say their kids are chattier while being ferried to and fro seated behind Mom or Dad.
Anna and I have some of our best conversations while driving, and we talk about many things. "Tell me about your day" is a mutual sharing of the previous 8 or so hours. Sometimes we talk about books we've read. Occasionally, our conversations lean toward more weighty topics. Once, when Anna was nine, we ruminated about the meaning of life. Anna's contribution from the backseat: "Eat well and use your usefulness."
Isn't this profound? For me, it sums up just about everything that really matters.
In the spirit of Anna's insight, I wish to thank everyone that participated, directly or otherwise, in our project this year. 80% + of my family's food comes from Michigan, within 100 miles of Kalamazoo. We ate well, thanks to so many, including:
Blue Dog Greens, Eater's Guild, the People's Food Co-op, the Kalamazoo Farmers' Market, Carrie and Kathy (eggs), Jennings Brothers Grains, Victorian Bakery, Valley Elk Farm, Young Earth Farm, Scobey's Produce, AppleSchram Organic Orchard, Young Herb Produce, Sweetwater Local Foods Market, Food Dance Café, Bauer Raspberries, Elizabeth's root veggie recipes, A Food Affair Café, Kalamazoo Granola, Green Gardens Farm, Patch and Pasture, Mi Milk Maidens, KalCarbon Acres, Bourner's Orchard, Sawall Health Food, Kismet Organics, Fenn Valley Winery, Bell's Brewery, Suzanne's goat cheese, Sarkozy Bakery, generous donations of canned, preserved, home processed meat and fruit.
Thanks also to the following folks who made it possible for me to use my usefulness:
* Lynne and everyone at The Splendid Table for inviting me to participate in this year of eating locally and write about it. It was an honor and a privilege. It changed my life.
* The 14 other bloggers across the country from whom I learned much.
* Lori, for answering all my questions, past and future.
* Everyone that commented on my blogs, publicly and privately, especially Molly, Mike, Vicki, Linda, Julie and M & D. The commitment kept me going; knowing you were reading helped me focus. More than you could ever know.
* The farmers, processors and growers - with their open barn-door policy - who welcomed Anna and me always.
* Rose, who strives to help me understand farming is a way of life (not an occupation).
* Ron, for providing space where I'm comfortable in my own (new) skin, and for believing/trusting I'm not too old to "intern."
* Carrie, gleaner extraordinaire, my chicken-school mentor, friend and canning buddy; I still covet your Chicken Farmer T-shirt.
* Matt for an unforgettable lesson on nitrogen.
* Linda and the instructors at Michigan State University's Master Gardener program for laying the foundation for me to learn to grow my own food.
* Mark for weekly teachings in the dirt, the occasional pop quiz and making the Master Gardener classroom material real.
* Leatta and Josephine for cooking tips and nutrition wisdom.
* Bruce for cheerleading and sharing infinite resources, especially early on when I was clueless about the rich and diverse agricultural bounty we have close to home.
* Fair Food Matters board and staff for knowing, years ago, about the need for a regional food system; you were there for me post-Omnivore's Dilemma.
* Melanie for help in starting our new farmers' market, past and future.
* Jill for writing and delivering the sermon Hope for the Commons.
* The Gazette, Encore, WKZO, churches and other venues where I spoke, for forums in which to tell my local food stories.
* Everyone who keeps me mindful of this: it's a luxury to be able think about where our food comes from.
* All active members on the EatLocalSWMich Yahoo Group with whom I agree and disagree; you help me frame my thinking.
And with deep gratitude to ...
... Mac, for helping me find my voice;
... Karen, for unvarnished guidance in fine-tuning it;
... and Anna, farm visit companion, gardening buddy, family philosopher and local food recipe tester. My reason for being a locavore.
Eight months into our year of eating locally - and blogging about it - Tim (Locavore Nation East) revisited the premise of our project - "to discover what it takes to obtain, prepare, and eat a sustainable regionally based diet". As he pointed out, this was only part of the charge, as the 15 of us also committed to writing about our experiences. By August, Tim had the local eating part down pat, but the writing was exhausting and the novelty had worn off. As he explained, coming up with an idea for a post, "to capture it, put it down, fret with the wording and present it to the world - it's like planning a wedding each time." He confessed: "I'm tired of writing about food."
I don't have this problem.
Truth is, I could post several times a day through the end of 2008 and still not say everything I want to say. I scribble blog ideas in the margins of books and on pieces of scrap paper. I experiment with phrases while driving or waiting in line and, like Tim, fret with the wording. And then fret some more. Sometimes for weeks. Subjects and opening and closing lines are scrawled in the small spiral notebook I carry with me everywhere I go (along with my camera) and in Calibri font in an electronic folder called "Miscellaneous Blog Ideas." Thousands of kilobytes won't see the light of day. Hundreds of photographs won't be shared. Not on Locavore Nation, anyway.
Here are a few of the things I was doing during gaps in my blogging this year. All are worthy of fretting, but there are just eight days left in 2008; I'm running out of time. Highlights will have to do.
The Fair Food Film Festival
With the help of friends who volunteered countless hours, and the sponsorship of eight generous community partners, Southwest Michigan's first Fair Food Film Festival was launched in November in Kalamazoo. We greatly appreciate the support of the Kalamazoo Film Society, Bronson Hospital, Kalamazoo Public Library, Kalamazoo Valley Museum, Kalamazoo College, Portage United Church of Christ, Michigan Land Trustees and Mehring Design (for our logo). Our films included King Corn and The Real Dirt on Farmer John. Muskegon, MI filmmaker Christopher Bedford was on hand to show The Organic Opportunity, which explores how one community built a thriving economy around local and organically grown food. Through these films and the events associated with them, we met our objective: to get our community thinking about where our food comes from and why it matters.
Canning without Carrie
I wrote about my first canning experience here. Carrie and I spent most of an early summer day putting up asparagus - we each have 15 pint jars to show for it - and this experience gave me the confidence to take the plunge, throughout the season, for several solo efforts to put up pickled beans, beets and onions, salsa and several varieties of chutneys, including peach, plum and organic pear. It's not possible in this short post to express both the gratification that came with doing this work AND the exhaustion that followed, so I'll just say this: for me, canning is a labor-intensive labor of love.
Meeting Joel Salatin
About this time last year, I read Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma. It changed the way I think about food, and set the stage for a transition to eating locally. For example, Chapter 10 (Grass: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Pasture) highlights grass farmer Joel Salatin and his way of raising livestock - a humane, environmentally beneficial alternative to industrial/factory feedlots called Confined Animal Feeding Operations (almost all dairy and meat products sold conventionally comes from CAFOs).
Every three years or so, Salatin and his family host a Field Day event at their Farm of Many Faces (Polyface) in Virginia. Anna and I settled on this destination for our annual chick trip last July. Everything I learned in Chapter 10 came to life during this day-long event. Salatin and his family were welcoming and accessible - happy to engage and answer questions. 1,600 people came from all over the country. Those of us seeking agricultural truth got what we came for.
Foraging with luvmama
Eating weeds from our backyard, vacant land, or the nearest nature preserve was something I'd given no thought to since Euell Gibbons was shilling for Grape Nuts. That was about 30 years ago. Fast forward to Lynne's January on-air interview with fellow blogger Laura (Locavore Nation West) in which cooking with purslane was discussed. It turns out this "weed" is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, the same nutrient obtained by consuming certain types of fish. I'd been looking for a source for Omega 3's since learning many types of fish and seafood are increasingly deemed unsafe to eat due to mercury and other contaminants.
The realization - if purslane is delicious, nutritious and edible, there must be other wild things out there to eat - led me to enroll in Shawna (aka luvmama) Greenway's Herbs 101 class.
During four consecutive weekend days in June, we foraged on WeedDance Farm. Shawna showed us how to make tea from wild raspberry leaves and demonstrated the best way to harvest wild mulberries (shake the tree branches over a tarp!). We snacked on lamb's quarter pesto. We learned about stinging nettle and burdock (the roots of which are edible) and so much more.
Mr. Gibbons would have approved.
Quick note while I am on a blogging roll - Locavore eating could cause people to think you are crazy. We were at a party and the baby ran over to another baby and stole their crackers. Fine, good, whatever. Toddlers do what toddlers do. I said in passing to the mother: "I wonder if she will like those." She had never had a goldfish cracker and I was really curious.
Judging from the shock on the mother's face I know understand that if you don't eat food that smiles at you before you are two, you are going to have 98 very challenging years ahead of you. She didn't talk to me the rest of the evening except to share with one other party guest that my child had not ever eaten the crispy little cracker.
Your children don't eat GOLDFISH®?!? Well no, but she did enjoy prime rib last night? Does that help her fit in? What a hard life our kids lead.