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Category Archives: Marea Aldrich

Minor difficulties and frustrations

Produce at the Burlington Farmers Market

Because I took the challenge literally and I only ate locally grown foods, I had a lot of difficulties.  Although I didn’t end up spending a large amount of money on local food, I did spend a lot of time cooking.  It was in no way convenient.  Luckily, my week for eating local was in September and midterms hadn’t hit yet so I had plenty of time.  The only portable snacks that I had were apples, pears, and carrots, so I needed to cook or bake in advance if I wanted to bring something more substantial.  I would estimate that on average I cooked for at least an hour and a half per day.  I would often cook large amounts of local beans and wheat berries at a time to have on hand.  Normally, I go for canned beans and this was my first experience cooking with dried beans.  They take hours to cook and on top of that, they need to be soaked overnight first.  Luckily my roommate had a slow cooker so it took lots of time but not lots of effort.  I don’t normally drink coffee so that wasn’t a problem but I did miss tea.  By the end of the week, I had strong cravings for chai tea, almonds, hummus, cereal, and bananas and these were the foods that I ate first when my week was done.

Unlike my fellow group members, cost wasn’t a big issue for me.  Local meat is extremely expensive but this didn’t apply to me because I am a vegetarian.  In addition, I think the fact that I chose to only eat local ingredients instead of locally made products helped with the cost.  Although I had to spend a lot of time cooking them, local winter wheat berries and beans were very inexpensive and made up a large part of my diet.  Also, I got the majority of my produce from the farmers market which had much better prices than the grocery stores.  In an average week, I spend 40 dollars on food.  For my localvore week, my groceries only cost 15 dollars extra and I had plenty of food left over.  For one week that doesn’t seem like a lot however I can see how it would add up over time.

It surprised me how much work I needed to do to prepare for my week of local eating.  I scoured the stores beforehand and did a lot of research on certain local companies to see whether all their ingredients were really local.  I found that I couldn’t eat Cabot cheese, use King Arthur flour, or drink Magic Hat because all of their ingredients are not locally sourced.  The only alcohol I could drink was local wine, cider, or vodka but in the end I couldn’t afford those.  In a way, these dietary restrictions gave me a sense of isolation and made me feel left out.  I couldn’t go to out to eat or to bars with my friends unless I didn’t order anything.  I suppose on the plus side I ate extremely healthy that week and ended up getting a lot of work done because I couldn’t go out.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2011 in Marea Aldrich

 

Reflective thinking on my experience of local eating

A picture from my trip to Shelburne Farms - stronger connection with the land

Overall, eating locally was an amazing experience.  I was so proud of myself once the week was over because I wasn’t sure if I had enough self-control to get through the week.  Every single thing I ate was grown in the state of Vermont!  I was aware of every morsel I put into my body because it was either raw or I had to cook it myself.  There was definitely a difference in taste.  Everything had a more intense flavor, especially the carrots.  I was shocked the following week when I bought a regular bag of carrots at the supermarket and they tasted so bland. In the end it was a rewarding experience and the positives definitely outweighed the negatives.

I was amazed how great my body felt after a week of eating locally.  I basically cleansed my body of all processed foods, as well as coffee, alcohol, and chocolate.  By the end of the week, I unintentionally lost 2 pounds because of the dietary restrictions and healthier food options.  As I reflected on my week of local eating, Delind’s article about the deep connection with place came to mind.  I really did feel more connected to the land but more importantly; the land provided everything I needed for a balanced diet.  By eating a local diet, I was able to get all of the necessary vitamins and minerals and was able to feel physically and mentally refreshed!  In addition, I was never tempted to overeat because my food was high in protein and fiber and was exceptionally filling.

Healthy fresh produce from the Burlington Farmer's Market

Weeks after completing this challenge, I am still incorporating local foods into my diet, just in a less extreme way.  Although as we learned in class, eating locally impacts the environment and local economy in many great ways (see link below), the motivation for me is more for personal reasons such as taste and health.  The eating local challenge actually made me appreciate globalization and the availability of imported foods and non-local household staples such as spices and baking soda.  As a college student I have limited resources, but I will continue to opt for local produce whenever I can.  Moderation is a key concept in my life and I will strive to buy local produce but won’t feel bad for indulging in global foods such as bananas, almonds, and chickpeas.

Do you want motivation to eat locally? Here are some great reasons to try it! http://www.lifebeginsat30.com/elc/2006/04/10_reasons_to_e.html

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2011 in Marea Aldrich

 

Recipes to stay sane during the eat local challenge!

Great food was the only way that I was able to stay sane during the eat local challenge.  I discovered that finding and experimenting with new recipes kept my diet interesting and I was less likely to get bored with certain foods.  I have a passion for cooking and using natural ingredients in healthy recipes which was very fitting for this challenge.  I frequently browse food blogs for inspiration and the following are recipes that I found and adapted to only include local ingredients.

Maple Apple Yogurt Cake (adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini)

I love this recipe!  I made it twice during my eat local week and used a muffin pan so that it could be a portable snack.  It was perfect for a quick breakfast or a study snack.  When I made it for snacking purposes, I decreased the maple syrup and increased the yogurt to make it more of a bread instead of a dessert.  I also added local wheat bran to the mix and omitted the baking soda and powder so that it would be truly local.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup plain greek yogurt (I used Green Mountain Creamery’s non-fat)
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup (I prefer grade B)
  • 2 VT eggs
  • 1/3 cup sunflower oil
  • 2 cups minus 2 Tbs whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 large apple (I prefer cortland or empire)

Instructions: 

Preheat oven to 360°F and grease a 10 inch cake pan.  Thinly slice the apple and set aside.  In a mixing bowl, combine yogurt, maple syrup, eggs, and sunflower oil.  In another bowl mix together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.  Pour the batter into the cake pan and delicately arrange the apple slices on top.  As a final touch, drizzle some extra maple syrup over top.  Pop into the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Spinach Mushroom Frittata (adapted from bell’alimento)

Photo Credit: Food Collage

I only cooked this once but it was excellent.  I added fresh parsley which tasted wonderful with the sharp cheddar.  My roommates and I had it for breakfast one day and they were begging me to cook it again.  We scarfed it down before I was able to take a picture but it looked similar to the one pictured above.  This recipe is very versatile and you can choose your favorite veggies and cheese to make it your own.

Ingredients:

  • 8 VT eggs
  • 2 Tbs milk
  • 1 Tbs sunflower oil
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 6 oz button mushrooms (any local variety is fine)
  • 1/4 cup Shelburne Farms cheddar

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350.  Crack eggs into bowl and whisk in milk and cheddar.  Season with herbs of choice and set aside.  Put sunflower oil in a cast iron pan and saute the onion for 2 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently.  Turn heat to low and add mushrooms to cook until the juices are released.  Then add spinach and cook until it wilts.  Add the egg mixture to the cast iron pan and continue to cook until the sides begin to set.  Then put the cast iron pan in the oven and cook for approx. 15 minutes or until eggs are firm.

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes (adapted from smitten kitchen)

Who doesn’t love pancakes? I ate these frequently for breakfast and I still make them.  They are really healthy and are a breeze to put together.  In the original recipe, the author uses sour cream but I substituted local greek yogurt.  Because these pancakes are packed with protein and high in fiber, they are a great way to kick-start your day.  In addition, because of my strict definition of local, I omitted the baking soda when I made them.

Ingredients: (makes eight 5-inch pancakes)

  • 7 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/ 4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup non-fat greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 apple, sliced
  • Maple Syrup

Mix dry ingredients together.  Add greek yogurt and mix until just combined.  In a separate bowl, whisk eggs.  Mix the eggs into the batter until just combined. If you want chopped apple in the pancakes, add them to the batter.  Alternatively, you can saute the apples with cinnamon to put on top of the pancakes.  Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Pour desired amount of batter into skillet and cook for about 2 minutes on each side.  Serve with maple syrup and sautéed apples if desired.

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Marea Aldrich

 

How to eat like a king using only local ingredients!

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.

wheat berries

Cattle Beans

 

 

 

 

 

 

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
 
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Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Marea Aldrich