I thought I would be severely limited in my food choices during my week of eating local but I was amazed at the variety of local foods that were available. Of course my week was at the end of September, which was still during harvest season. I can imagine that attempting this challenge any later would be extremely difficult.
I got the majority of my produce at the farmers market and was able to find everything else at City Market. I was very thankful that City Market had a good labeling system. If the food is local or contains 100% local ingredients, it is labeled “Local” whereas if the product is made locally but contains non-locally sourced ingredients, it is labeled “Locally Made”. This helped me out a lot when I was buying my food for the week. Foods that I originally thought might have been local such as Magic Hat and Cabot are actually made with some non-local ingredients and therefore weren’t acceptable for the challenge.
During my local food week, I came to rely on a few staples. In addition to fruits and vegetables, these included winter wheat berries, cattle beans, black beans, plain greek yogurt, eggs, milk, and cheese. I did a lot of baking and luckily I was able to find local maple syrup, sunflower oil, and whole-wheat pastry flour. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to use baking soda or powder so my baked goods were often dense. I quickly got used to this and didn’t mind.
During my localvore week, I was able to eat like a king. I love everything to do with food so I took this challenge as an opportunity to try new recipes using local ingredients. For breakfast, I would have greek yogurt with fresh fruit, whole wheat apple pancakes, warm wheat berries with milk drizzled in maple syrup, or spinach mushroom frittata with fresh herbs and cheddar. For lunch, I was usually on campus and would bring fruit, leftovers, wheat berries with beans, or a muffin. Dinner was always an adventure. I would often roast winter vegetables such as pumpkin, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes with garlic, onions, herbs, and sunflower oil. My favorite local meal was roasted acorn squash stuffed with wheat berries and black beans topped with cheddar cheese and served with a spinach salad. In addition, I would often eat vegetable stir-fries with Vermont tofu. Several times I made local “hummus” with pureed cattle beans or sweet potatoes but it was never as good as the original. Dessert was tricky because maple syrup was my only sweetener. After I went apple picking, I made cranberry apple pie sweetened with maple syrup, maple apple yogurt cake, and lots of applesauce. To see some of the recipes that I frequently used during the eat local challenge, click on the entry to the right beginning with “Recipes”.
Want to find local foods but don’t know where to look? Here is a good resource for finding all types of local food in Vermont: http://www.vermontgrowersguide.com/
In addition, on a semi-unrelated note, here is a fascinating blog by a food photographer who moved from NYC to a forest. She has beautiful photographs of foods situated in nature and uses recipes that showcase local produce during their peak season. http://forestfeast.tumblr.com/
Outside Image Sources
- King- http://urbanislandz.com/2010/07/31/two-jamaican-burger-king-employees-from-dc-fighting-over-who-to-make-burger/
- Hardwick Farmers Market – http://www.flickr.com/photos/wbur/4807988227/
- Wheat Berries-http://nutritiousplate.com/2010/03/20/food-challenge-wheat-berry/
- Cattle Beans-http://www.seedsavers.org/Details.aspx?itemNo=M164