Friday, December 21, 2007

The adventure in "localtarianism" begins

a tangerine - citrus is in season in the winter (but not local for me - not sure I could do without it though)

I've always had an interest in protecting our environment and in cooking good, healthy food. Thus, when I go grocery shopping, I try to buy organic and natural whenever I can. Since reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, it's gone to a new level, far beyond the organic/non-organic question. This book really opened my eyes to some of the ways that our (U.S.) food system is very messed up, and some ways to help heal it. A large part of this healing is to buy locally and seasonally.

So, I've decided to be more aware of where my food comes from and make more conscious decisions about what, and where, I buy it. I want to buy locally as much as possible, and learn how to eat seasonally too. This is going to be a big change from how I usually think about food. For example, when I set out to write my grocery list today, I started with recipes that I had in mind, then wrote down the ingredients I needed to make those recipes. I'm sure that's how most of you do it too. If I'm to make a conscious choice to eat locally and seasonally, I'll have to somehow work that in reverse by first finding out what ingredients are available to me, then make a meal plan and find recipes built around that availability.

Like many of you, I'm an urban apartment dweller, what can I do? I don't even have a yard to plant a garden in, or a much of a green thumb anyway, much less a small farm out my back door. I don't even have a decent pantry or freezer. What can I do? Thus this blog is born! I thought it would be helpful for me to write about my journey of "localtarianism", my frustrations and successes as I find out what, indeed, I can do. And maybe it will also be helpful to others who care about the health of our planet, and good food too. I'll also be posting about recipes, meal plans, shopping trips, books and other resources. And, since I'm an artist, I'll include appropriate drawings and paintings like the one above from time to time.

And hopefully there will be some sharing of advice and stories with other bloggers too.

Please join me on this adventure!


andrea said...

These are concerns of mine, too, so I promise to keep tabs on your progress, but I also try to avoid food with unnecessary additives and also avoid processed food (pasta excepted :) as much as possible. For example, I adore ice cream ~ but what goes into it can be downright unpronounceable, and my budget is a concern so buying really expensive ice cream with only natural ingredients is right out, so I've been doing the following (careful, it's hugely fattening and highly addicting):

500 ml of whipping cream (1 pint I think)
1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice and zest from one lemon

Add ingredients in order above and stir thoroughly. Freeze.

Lemons are hardly local and white sugar not the healthiest of food, but I feel better knowing exactly what went into it my favourite decadnet treat. Besides the cream does come from local cows! Then I have to fight for my fair share around here...

Angela Rockett said...

Thank you, Andrea, for being my first commenter! And yes, avoiding unnecessary additives and processed food is also important to me. Pasta, alas, is definitely an exception. And ice cream! Spent about 20 minutes in the frozen foods aisle the other night with Wade, discussing the various pros and cons of each available brand! I've come to the conclusion that I might just have to get out the ol' ice cream maker and make our own.

Thanks for the recipe. Cream (and other dairy products) from local cows is a fantastic place to start!

Tracy said...

Hi Angela, Great blog! And that book was very inspiring to me as well! We have been working on eating local and seasonal for awhile and even though it is a challenge with four kids we do pretty well. I try to make most things from scratch, and we have a pretty decent garden in the summer. I also am a regular at our local farmer's market.

We aren't perfect but I am very glad that it is becoming easier to find organic food where we live too, there weren't as many options when we moved here just four years ago.

tlc illustration said...

I think this is a great idea - one that I've pursued more thoroughly before the Big Project (and now have no discretionary time. Will maybe have to do that "how to get up early" thing you also alluded to! He claims that brings about extra time as well).

I do have a backyard garden - which does alright considering our lack of really warm temperatures and some shade through out the day, but have made a conscious effort to have everything I *do* plant in my yard to be edible or medicinal. (I know every edible flower and pretty much every culinary herb that will grow here I think). That is really fun for me, and I hope my spring/summer 2008 is more condusive to yard work.

This past year since I wasn't gardening as much as I'd like, I started getting organic produce delivered to the house. The service I use is OK - but they aren't as locally-grown oriented as I'd like. I know there are a number of small farms in the area who only use in-season, local grown produce, but in Kirkland at least, you had to go pick them up yourself and I couldn't do it last year. (Might re-examine the possibility this year). It *is* kind of fun to cook in response to the contents of your produce bin, rather than the other way around.

I'm looking forward to hearing what you learn and how you progress.

Cynthia said...

Great idea for a blog - you beat me to it! :D But, now I can just visit yours.

Thank you for the book recommendation too.

I live in a small house with a small lot in an urban environment - and do manage to grow a few things in my yard. I compost all kitchen scraps - but have been thinking about applying for a plot at my local community garden to broaden my horizons a bit - we have a lot of shade.

I'm also going to look into buying a "share" from a local organic farm next growing season. I think there's a lot we can do to eat better and to support our local economies.

dinahmow said...

Brava! The first tentative step is sometimes the biggest.
Apartment-dwelling does make some things difficult, but hey! you like a challenge, right!
30 something years ago, I lived at street level in an apartment house.Two floors up, a rickety fire escape gave onto the basement roof, about 3x4 metres of nothing. But I grew all manner of pretties and edibles, so it can be done.
I look forward to your new adventures.
Good growing to you!

girl work studios said...

A blog after my own heart! I'm looking forward to reading more Angela.

2 summers ago I went on a 100 mile diet experiment. It was incredibly difficult (and I struggled and cheated MANY times... if only coffee and chocolate could be grown in Vancouver). It was enlightening to say the least. I had to learn about canning and freezing fruits and vegetables, something our parents and grandparents knew by necessity, but irrelevent for my generation. I developed some good relationships with local farmers and learned a lot about what grows best where and when and the politics of food and even the politics of farmers markets.

Although I've stopped being militant in buying only local, I do so whenever I can. You've inspired me to get more serious about it again, thanks.