Sunday, September 9, 2007

Eating Locally

I now have a slightly dodgy internet connection now, which is better than none at all.

Apples are coming in at a good clip, and I am hard-pressed to find something to do with them all. It's actually fun in it's own way, as I get to pour through recipe books to find recipes with apples in them, or, yesterday, green tomatoes.

One of my tomato towers fell over yesterday, and several large, green tomatoes fell off the vine. It seemed a shame to chuck them, since we're not fried green tomato fans here. So I found a recipe for Salsa Verde using green tomatoes instead of tomatillos. It turned out pretty good, although I think I won't use red onion next time, as it bleeds into the salsa giving it a strange color.

We had the inlaws over for dinner, and they left with most of the tomatoes. I made apple crisp with apples from the orchard, caprese salad with homegrown tomatoes, garlic, and basil, and parsley potatoes, with both the parsley and the potatoes from the garden. Not bad for one meal! The steak was also local, but that was all. The wine was Spanish (brought by the inlaws), the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, Italian.

I try to eat locally, but am getting frustrated. The magical one hundred miles in this area doesn't incorporate much arable land. There are two mountain ranges, which provide nothing, and Puget Sound, which, aside from farmed fish and mussles, doesn't give you much, either. They've even warned of not eating too much wild caught fish in the Sound from all the pollution. I finally have accepted the fact that I have to look at my whole state as a local food shed.

Washington State is known for it's wheat. There are millions of acres of Eastern Washington planted in wheat. Yet until recently (like my last trip to the grocery store) you couldn't buy wheat from Washington. No kidding. It all gets carted by rail to the ports and shipped off to Asia or Egypt. I could buy wheat from Montana and Alberta, but not Washington. Now I can get all-purpose flour from here, but not bread or whole wheat, and only in 5lb bags.

We're known for apples, too, although I'm starting to supply our fruit needs from home, and good wine. There are huge fields of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries North of here, but all of the ones you can buy in the store are from California. Even from the stores that are owned locally.

I keep thinking about why I'm not thrilled with farmer's markets in general, and I think it's because of the fact that if they are offering it at the market, it's already growing in my garden. No-one sells honey or eggs there, which I would really like to get, or meats of any kind. We used to get a quarter of a cow (okay, I know that's not the right terminology), but it was really expensive, and if the power went out, as it's wont to do here, we'd be out $700 of meat. If you want flowers, there are tons, but I don't think dahlias are edible.

So what's a locavore to do? Could you live without citrus, olive oil, spices, and bread flour? I suppose you could, but it wouldn't make very interesting eating. So I think I'm just going to go for the major stuff, and allow all the accoutrements be non-local. Is that okay? Do I need to ask permission? If so, from whom?


Laura said...

You can get local honey from the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association. I picked some up at the Seattle Tilth Harvest Festival on Saturday, but it looks like there are also a few retail locations with honey:

Kristi said...

Hi, Laura! Love your blog. The pickles look yummy.

It sounds like you do a lot of driving around the area to visit the farmer's markets. Seattle seems a world away from where I am now. Even Bellevue is a hassle to get to. Any idea of someplace further North that sells local honey? Maybe I should check with my local apiary supplies shop?

I wish I could've gone to the Harvest Festival, but it's soccer season....