Farmers’ Market End-of-Season Report/Menu For Change Challenge

I was sequestered in my sewing room for much of the last two weeks, finishing up a cosplay for The Boy to wear to a local anime convention last weekend. Here’s what’s new.

The outdoor farmers’ markets have ended in my neck of the woods. We have an indoor market here in town during the winter, but it does not start up until November 4, so until then, we will work our way through what I was able to pick up at the last market I attended, as well as the vegetables and fruits that have been in storage since the end of the CSA season.

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This is from the market on Oct. 7, and most of it is already eaten, frozen, or in storage. I didn’t attend the last market on Oct. 14, due to the mentioned anime con, so this is it for a while as far as local offerings go, unless I go on a farm crawl this weekend. It’s quite likely I’ll do this, because I have signed up for Slow Food International’s Menu for Change Challenge. For the next three weeks, from Oct. 16 to Nov. 5, I have pledged to:

  • Eat two meals a week sourced with local, traditional ingredients
  • Eat only free-range meat raised in my region
  • Buy no imported food or products made over 200 miles away

The first two goals will be easily met, with foods I already have in storage. The third one presented some thought-provoking compromises while I shopped yesterday. If I had been clever, I suppose I could have gamed the system a bit by grocery shopping before the challenge began, but I’m not that clever. Plus, I did not consult with The Husband or The Boy concerning this challenge, and I hardly think it’s fair to drag them along until I have. So, what’s been compromised?

Coffee: It simply doesn’t grow within 200 miles of here, and there’s no way we are doing without it for three weeks. I do buy a brand that is from a small roaster in Vermont, within the 200 mile radius, so that’s something.

Imports: Although I can easily refrain from buying any other imported foods for three weeks, as I pulled spices, extracts, and oils from my pantry and refrigerator to prepare dinner Monday, their countries of origin flashed in my brain. Some of the items I take most for granted in my kitchen are from far, far away, and aren’t available at all in the 200 mile zone. Think salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, vanilla extract, even flour and sugar. These aren’t items we’d even consider exotic, yet they are only available through importation, or come from several hundred miles away.

Frozen foods: The Boy has a few frozen staples he loves, and can easily heat for himself, and they are not produced within the 200 mile radius. I can discuss this with him, and see if he wants to challenge himself to do without them. Whatever his answer, the conversation will be enlightening for both of us.

I think that’s the most important point of taking on the challenge. It’s not about proving something, or coming off as superior or awesome in some way, but becoming really aware of where all our foods are from. There’s a lot of nuance to this too. For example, I have a couple of baking mixes from a local vendor, who lives no more than 10 minutes from my house, but what’s inside those baking mixes, and how far did each ingredient travel to end up here? I’m not going to drive myself mad trying to be pure and militant about this, and no one should, in my opinion. But everyone should know and understand WHERE all their food comes from, HOW it ends up on their plates, and WHO is doing the work to make that happen.

If you are interested in more information, or signing up for the Menu For Change Challenge visit the Slow Food International website or Facebook page, and if you want to see my two weekly meals with local products, they will be posted here and on my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds. Get curious, get inspired, get cooking.

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