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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

 

My start to the Eat Local Challenge


Let me just begin by saying that I’m usually one to get overly excited about projects before I realize how much time/effort/work will need to be put in to actually succeed. Having said that, I was very excited to do the Eat Local Challenge. My mind was more set on how many good foods I could eat and less on how I would actually be able to convert my on-campus meal plan eating ways to a diet of all l

ocal food. Let’s be honest, UVM has a pretty good food program with lots of variety and options to fit many different diets; they also give us some local products to choose from! But when you get a hot meal at the dining hall or a prepared meal at a campus store like the Marche, there’s no real way of knowing whether the food you’re eating was grown, raised, or produced in Vermont. So, okay, if I were going to do this project right, I would have to get my food from a different source. With only a few places within walking distance to choose from, I decided to go with City Market.

Found on the City Market website at http://www.citymarket.coop

After I gave myself enough time to prepare a tentative shopping list and mentally prepare myself for a week of no Arizona iced tea or rice (yikes!), I decided to start my Eat Local week on October 16th with a trip to City Market. I went into the store knowing that getting all local ingredients would heavily rely on access to a kitchen, which I didn’t have. Because of this, I decided to get as many purely local items as I could but also considered locally made bagels, bread, and applesauce, among others, to be considered local foods, though they probably contained ingredients that weren’t local. That being said, here’s the list of groceries I bought for the week:

–       Bag of spinach (for salad)

–       Carrots

–       1 Red pepper, 1 Orange pepper

–       1 Tomato

–       3 large apples

–       1 pumpkin

–       Cabot cheddar cheese

–       River Garden Kitchens of Vermont Maple vinaigrette dressing

–       Wheatberry (bulk section)

–       Fresh ground peanut butter

–       Vermont Bread Company whole grain bread

–       Morse Hillside Farm raspberry jam

–       Honey (bulk section)

–       Vermont Village organic peach applesauce

–       Granola (bulk section)

–       3 Burlington Bagel Bakery bagels

–       Monument Farms skim milk

–       Cold Hollow Cider Mill apple cider

My trip to the store cost me about $75, which wasn’t too bad for a week’s worth of food. However, the cost was added on top of the meal plan I had already paid for, so, if looked at that way, it ended up being pretty expensive. Just another benefit of living on-campus, I suppose. Ha-ha.

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Lilly Thompson

 

This is NOT easy.

November 18, 2011

I walked around Healthy Living today. My first thought when I walked into the store was, “I don’t have the time for this and I definitely can’t afford anything here.” My mom always said that there were three things that you do not skimp on: healthcare, education and food. But, this is ridiculous. I have to spend five dollars for a bag of apples? No way. That seems a little drastic don’t you think? What about the fancy yogurt? We have already been through this. No. Ew. You cannot force me to eat that again! So, I headed to the meat area. I think “I definitely cannot afford this.” I also don’t really like cooking meat for myself. It’s slimy and gross. While I know that I want to finish my week of eating locally there is only so much Cabot cheese and apples that I can eat in a week. I want pasta! Anything else! I mean, it is not fair of me to be so picky but to be honest I am not a big cook. Making my own pasta is totally out of the question.

I guess I am not big into eating locally. I am not that big into the saving the environment. Sure, It is a good thing to want to help save the world but what about saving my soul? I am not liberal by nature. Maybe it stems from where I grew up or my family but I live in a fast paced world where my desires don’t align with eating locally. To spend an hour in a grocery store is just a waste of time. I want to be in and out of there so I can have the extra five minutes before work or school. Not to mention my diminishing social life.

So, I stand here giving up. I totally and completely give up. If your life goes in a direction that allows for the time and access to eating locally, then, that’s awesome. If you know the farms and places to buy great local food, then, more power to you! People who have the knowledge about farms, vegetable stands, and farmers markets, then, that’s great. For me it is just not in the cards. I think that maybe if I had the time and I knew where there are local options, then, than that would be great (not to mention much easier.) For me to go completely out of my way in order to eat locally is not only time consuming but not economically plausible. It may come down to the fact that I just don’t have the passion for it.

I know this project would have been totally easier if I had done it earlier in the year when I was not so consumed by schoolwork. Or when there were more farm stands. Or before I became so fed up with the food industry. But, eating locally is just too hard. Not worth my time or money. I don’t have the patience.

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Emily Smith

 

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

 

Kyle – Day 6

Day 6, Saturday November 25, 2011 11:34pm

Today I decided that this weeklong project is being done in a work week. I just can’t do it anymore. I have had enough of apple sauce, mealy apples, and dried out shepherd’s pie.

Overall though, I feel like the project has been a success, I accomplished what I set out to do. The goal was to only eat local ingredients for the entire week, which I did, excluding the Thanksgiving meals that my family and friends made.

The conclusions that I have drawn are, firstly, that only eating local is just highly impractical, at least if you are trying to start this time of year. If I was making the choice to only eat local for the rest of my life, I would start in late spring or early summer. This would give me access to a lot of fresh produce and fruits. I would make jams and jellies that I could eat later in the year. I would make as much bread as possible early on and freeze it. I would do everything that I could to learn about preservation through canning, pickling, freezing and dehydrating. All of those techniques and the foods produced by them would definitely make eating local during this time of year easier.

The second conclusion that I have drawn is that eating local is just too expensive if you are not subsidizing your food in some way. If you have a CSA or a small garden of some sort, it becomes increasingly easier to eat local. If you know how to cook or have the space and time to do so, eating local becomes far easier. If you have transportation to farmers markets and the local farm stands like the Mazza stores inColchester, eating local becomes less of a hassle. However, if you miss the farmers markets, lack transportation, do not have a CSA, then City Market or Healthy Living are your only options and there prices are entirely too high. Feeding myself was expensive, if I had to feed an entire family, I have no idea how I would afford it.

However, the outlook isn’t entirely bleak. I will definitely be buying more of my staples local, like bread, milk, eggs, potatoes, onions, and garlic. Those products are not much more expensive when bought local and are plentiful. I am also going to increase my organic consumption as well. Just because something is not local does not mean it can not be sustainable or healthy. I think that organic is a perfect substitute for unavailable local foods.

Although this project has been long, frustrating, and expensive, it has also been an amazing learning experience and I can not wait to compare my results with my group-mates.

 

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Kyle Bessette

 

Kyle – Day 5

Day 5, Friday November 24, 2011 11:13pm

Back to the grind. Thanksgiving was great, but no left-overs for me today. I went right back to the meal I have eaten every other day at work. It was so busy today though (Black Friday in retail…FUN) that I just don’t feel like moving out of this chair. I also have to do it again tomorrow (more FUN). I am eating the last of the cheese and bread right now while drinking some local cider (no, not the hard stuff).  I guess I have nothing more to say, so I will express some of the feelings I have been having over the week.

This week, I am working 40 hours and only have 3 days off, one of which was the holiday so it doesn’t count (post office and such) and because I did all of my shopping and cooking last Sunday, that leaves this coming Sunday for all of my homework and cleaning stuff. This week is leaving me drained and the local food challenge is only adding to the stress.

I normally do not buy all kinds of food during my shifts at work, but just knowing that I cannot makes me want to cross the street for a milk shake, or cross the other street for a bowl of soup, or grab a slice of pizza, or get some chocolates. I have these cravings that never flair up normally, it’s just because of I can’t have those things that makes me want them so badly. Our culture is so strongly rooted in freedom and choice that restricting ourselves is painful. If I were completely changing my lifestyle to this, I couldn’t even reason with myself that at the end of the challenge the non-local foods will all taste better because there would be no end to the challenge, that would be my life. Sure I could say that I am helping the local economy and possibly my health (local butter is still butter…and still delicious) but how could I reason with spending so much money and time on food. All of my hobbies (there aren’t many) would suffer along with my mental stability. This whole experience is making me think really hard about what eating local really means and how we can hope to change our food systems when I can’t even change myself for a week, and I know the ramifications. It would help if I was not a picky eater, but still, there are only so many times I can eat potatoes before I want to watch them all burn.

I am realizing that I am ranting (one of my traits that keeps me from actually blogging) and should probably go to bed. I will enjoy the rest of my “meal” and do it all again tomorrow.

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Kyle Bessette

 

Kyle – Day 4

Day 4, Wednesday November 22, 2011 7:43pm

So the chili didn’t happen last night, I was just so tired from work and had to be back there at 10 this morning. I wanted some relaxing time last night so I skipped the chili and went to bed early. I could have woken up early to make the chili, but it snowed last night and I had to clean off my car before work and drive down. I will also be skipping the chili again tonight because I have friends in town that want to go out. I had always planned on skipping out of the project during Thanksgiving, so I guess I will just start it tonight.

For breakfast and lunch it was the same exact thing from the last 2 days, nothing new. The local-depression is fading, especially with the awesome dinner I made myself tonight. I stir-fried one of the chicken breasts with carrots, onions, garlic and some soy sauce (that counts as a seasoning right?) and served it with garlic mashed potatoes. I considered it an anthropological experiment mixing eastern flavors with a western dish like mashed potatoes (extra credit?). It was so good! The chicken was really tender and flavorful too. I was really excited to be eating that meal, especially because I didn’t spend all night cooking it and, after I finish this, I get to hang out with my roommate before we go out with friends. It also helps that the project is on hold until Friday thanks to the holiday (homework is like the post-office and banks, national holidays don’t count).

I can’t wait to have Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow for two reasons, I won’t be cooking it and I get to eat a massive amount of good food that isn’t apples, applesauce, or nasty yogurt. I have not felt this energetic and happy all week!

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Kyle Bessette