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Category Archives: Local Food
I was at the Ypsilanti Farmers Market yesterday, and I picked up some great salsa. In fact it is the only salsa I every want. It is by Nightshade Army Industries and it is made locally. They grow the tomatoes and peppers and they process the salsa at Beezy’s Cafe.They feature classic red and green and hot sauce and chilly vinegar. It reminds me of Southwest Style, the kind of salsa I loved in New Mexico.
Their partnership with Beezy’s Cafe makes this possible. In order for Nightshade to make their salsa, they need access to a commercial certified kitchen. These kitchen are everywhere. Every restaurant,cafe, or deli has one, but the are hard to come by.
Nightshade comes in after hours to make their salsa. I thought how many other local food products could we have if we could take advantage of a handful of kitchens after hours. What a huge untapped resource.
Think about all of that extra squash/pumpkin in your garden. That can be turned into pie filling. Or that apple tree in the back yard could make for a large batch of apple butter. Or how about small batch pickles, frozen dessert, or any number of food products that take advantage of local food, flavors and creativity.
Nightshade Army Industries does not just make great salsa, they are true local food heroes.
Go get yourself some.
Long after the garden has been put to bed, there are POTATOES.
Above is a picture of some of the potatoes a grew this year, this crazy garden year. It is almost Dec and I am still enjoying my garden.
Looking at my potatoes and preparing my standard recipe pan of simple roasted, I wondered about looking into other potato recipes.
Emily asked why.
Why indeed. I can eat roasted potatoes for the rest of my life and not want for any other potato.
Here is my recipe:
1) Wash and rinse as many potatoes as you feel like. (for my that is about 5 pounds)
2) cut them into about 1 inch size pieces.
3) Place in a pan one layer deep (get as many pans as you need. I usually make two pans for leftovers)
4) drizzle some oliver oil on them
5) shake on some salt and dried thyme or rosemary or both
And bake in a 400 degree oven until they are done (45-60 minutes-ish)
Taste and add more salt if desired.
I use yukon gold and red potatoes. I grew red Pontiac and yukon gold this year.
I am a big fan of local food.
I picked up my Thanksgiving Turkey this year from the farm it was raised. And the pumpkin, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cranberries, eggs and corn meal in the meal were all local.
With that said, I really, really want to see the local food movement grow.
But do Local Food Eaters really want it to grow?
I have been thinking about that lately and part of me thinks NO.
The reason I say this is because I question the incentive for individual local food eaters to bring more people into the fold.
Are local food eater like myself telling friends, increasing our numbers, dragging reluctent friends to the farmers market?
A few years back, I belonged to a food club that offered raw milk. The club was kind of secretive, and I got the feeling that most in the club wanted to keep it that way.
More local food eaters means more competition for the limited supply of locally produced food.
Would the good nature local food eater (myself included) feel OK when they can’t get into a CSA, or they can’t get local eggs, or they get shut out of a community garden plot, or if there is a wait list for chicken when it once was easy to get?
Promoting local food feels like shooting ourself in the foot.
It’s like telling everyone about our favorite restaurant, which results in us never getting a table.
The incentive to not share in our good thing is strong.
But this mentality has a risk because we need more local food eaters.
Without more local food eaters, the movement is sunk because more local food eaters means more local farmers and larger/more farmers markets to meet demand, more local food restaurant, more prepped food products and more access all around for locally produced grown food.
There currently is not enough farmers market shoppers in my town to buy up the current farm production.
There are simply more food shoppers shopping some where else then from local farmers at the farmers market.
So perhaps the current group of local food folks have little to worry about, but that is my point here.
I feel that local food eaters and the movement enjoys the current size of the local food movement and I am one of them, I have to admit.
There is plenty of local food for us now, but not if our numbers grew.
Indeed local food access has grown. It is easier to eat more locally (in some areas). And without the work of local food advocates for years, the current folks like myself who enjoy access to local food would not be able to enjoy their local Thanksgiving.
But I do feel that the movement is vulnerable to stall because of an inclussive and hoarding mentality.
What I say, eventhough it may be shooting ourselves in the foot in the short run, is to tell a friend about local food. Get more folks to eat more locally.
This means dragging your friends to the farmers market until they become regulars, and then not complaining when it gets hard to get some of your local food items.
Be patient supply will grow to meet the increased demand and that is better for all of us.
I have been into the local food thing for a few years now.
It feels good, but I have to wonder if my efforts are making a difference or if they are largely symbolic.
Is there a better way to go about it?
My thoughts take me to my garden this year. I had a huge garden, which unlike other years produced a small yield for the space/time spent.
Most years, I grow so much that I cannot eat it all nor do I have the time to cook what I can eat. I have tried to grow foods that stores longer as a result.
But I end up giving a lot away if I can. I never plan for the excess, so my donation effort is pretty random and not very efficent.
In recent years, I find that I am growing more flowers instead of food to avoid the excess. At least the bees are happy, which is kind of a big deal too.
This year however, the hot weather destroyed my Spring crops. The grass burried my smaller crops regardless of long hours weeding. And the late start of the garden left me with no yield for my sweet potatoes.
With that said, I discovered that even extremely split cabbage still tastes good and flowering arugula tastes great too, which I had figured it to be done for. So maybe my yield was a little better then I thought.
I did not do the farmers market with my sprouts and bake goods this year, so I found myself as a shopper instead of vendor.
As a shopper, I noticed that I found that my garden competed with the market vendors. Instead of buying their produce, I had my own in my garden (sort of).
I never thought about it until this year, but did having my own garden make sense on a local food movement level?
Would both I, and the vendors (and the local food movement) be better served if I did not grow a garden, but instead bought from a local farmer instead?
I don’t have the exact numbers, but a garden can be a costly endeavor. There is the community garden rental, the cost of adding nutrition to the soil and then there are the plants and seeds, equipment/tools, plant supports (tomato cages) and fencing, not to mention the garden time.
I am not sure how much I spend in a given year, but it must be a few hundred dollars unless I found crazy good deals or started my own seedlings.
If you are willing to get your plants in late, you can find great end of seedling season deals at the farmers market.
Which again begs the questions, do farmers selling seedlings at the farmers market compete against themselves by promoting home gardens?
I figure that gardeners are the same customers who shop at the market, and they end up buying less because they bought seedlings.
I guess it ends up being a matter of timing because farmers end up having seasonal produce available before the gardener has theirs, but eventually they catch up with each other.
All of this has me second guessing my garden.
Of course, not all gardeners grow enough and many farmers market shoppers do not gardener at all.
Part of me thinks that at least on a local food movement level that I should still grow a garden, but I am starting to think about growing a high yield, low labor, low cost donation garden if I want to push local food to donate.
And that buying from a local farmer would make more sense.
Is the local food movement about growing more local food as efficently as possible and getting that food to more local mouths?
Are we simply playing a numbers game?
To a large extent, I think it is.
When I go to the farmers market, I still see tables of produce left at the end of the day.
If the local food movement is so big and growing, wouldn’t there be a run on local food with every vendor selling out?
After all only a small presentage of the food produced and consumed in any given area is local.
So it stands to reason that if the local food movement is so big given the huge amount of media dedicated to it, we would hear about fights over the last cartoon of eggs and shoving matches at farmers markets over a bunch of kale.
I could be wrong here, but it looks like the local food movement is having a hard time creating a demand for the current yield of food that is being produced let alone pushing for larger growth.
At least that is what it looks like at the farmers market.
The local food movement needs more mouths I figure reagrdless if I have a garden or not.
The Brinery Kickstarter
Ann Arbor’s Project Grow Community Gardens caped off another season with their 40th Anniversary Bash for over 100 follow gardeners.
Like always, the p0tluck featured some great eats with lots of fresh veggies from the garden and cuisine that reflected the diversity of gardeners in our community.
Notable favorites of mine was the veggies pakora, lentils with mixed greens, my foccacia bread, dueling quinoa dishes, ginger top pickles and hot blueberry and apple crisp and more and more. And did I mention we had a whole roasted pig and crispy duck.
Thanks everyone for a great party and a great year.
Check out the pics.