Saturday, June 30, 2007

International House of Breakfast

Since my last post I've been investigating where our breakfast comes from. The answer? Everywhere. Lately, we've been eating oatmeal, home-made bread, fruit, and yogurt.*

Quaker oatmeal is grown in the U.S. and Canada, same for the store-brand oats (ultimately from a Ralston plant, I think). Our Nature's Promise organic apple juice uses concentrate from Turkey, and our Trader Joe's raisins are from California. The coveted Brown Cow cream-top maple yogurt [drool] is made in California; I have to assume the milk is from not too far away. Only our blackberries and cherries are local, both from the CSA. The bananas are Honduran.

So if oats aren't a big industry 'round these parts, what would be an appropriate local breakfast grain? Can you consider my home-made bread "local" (the honey is the only ingredient whose provenance I know) since the love and labor is mine? I could always fry up an egg from the orchard's hens, I suppose. Rice was once big on the mid-Atlantic coast. Maybe I'll look into that. I have some Erewhon organic "brown rice cream" cereal (like cream of rice) that is "distributed by" a company in Massachusetts, same one that makes Farina. I'll probably call them Monday to see where their rice comes from.

I can't see that finding fruits would be a problem for one concerned with eating locally here in Delaware. Obviously, bananas and other tropical fruits (we love mangoes) come from far away. Later this summer I'll start inquiring about any raisin-making in the area, which has abundant and tasty grapes. Juice should be easy to concoct from local sources, too. Highland Orchards is known for their wonderful apples as summer turns to fall. I'll certainly ask them about how well their cider freezes. I could be juicing some of the berries we've been gorging ourselves on this spring and summer, but it just never occurred to me. It just never occurred to me. Well, there's the problem, eh? Mindfulness yields an infinite bounty.

*In the past few weeks, I've worked on steering the kids away from Nutri-Grain bars while I come up with a healthier home-made substitute that they will accept. I hear you laughing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Home Cookin'

I've been working hard over the past few years to eat "closer to home." The farther food has to travel to get to your plate, the more resources that could've been saved by you eating food grown or produced in your vicinity. If you read this blog regularly, then 1) you know I rarely write this blog regularly, but 2) you also know I shop for most of my produce and dairy at Highland Orchards in Wilmington, Delaware. The vegetables and fruits from their land are grown with no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. In their orchard market, they also sell produce, dairy, and meats--some certified organic--from other sources both near and far, as well as prepared foods and mixes of well-known companies like Eden Foods, Paul Newman, Bob's Red Mill, Thai Kitchen, etc. I also pick up a weekly box of organic produce grown on a group of small farms just over the border in Maryland. Calvert Farm runs this CSA, and we've scored some lovely things so far this season, including the best asparagus I've had in years.

Back to my original point. If you support local agriculture, you are putting your money where your mouth is--therefore enriching not only the local economy and ecology, but your health and quality of life.

Here's a website to get you started: The 100 Mile Diet. A couple endeavored to spend a year living on foods found within 100 miles of their Vancouver, BC, home; now they're spreading the word.
In honor of their noble experiment, I decided to take a look at my family's consumption just for today and estimate what percentage is "local." Here is what turned out to be a very short list of what we consumed that was grown/made locally:

Sunflower seeds: sold at Highland Orchard in DE, grown ??
Red potatoes

In my tallying, I realized that I rarely read labels to see where things are from. Yes, I know (and hate) that the organic grapes we ate today were shipped from Mexico. No, I don't have to buy them. But my two and three year olds eat a lot of fruit. And I see plainly on the package that our Trader Joe's raisins are grown in California. But what of Post Honey Bunches of O's? Or Silk soymilk? I couldn't find the state(s) of origin on the King Arthur whole wheat flour package--all they will say is that the ingredient is 100% w.w. flour, "milled for" K.A.F. in Vermont. What about all the local buying I do? Is it okay if I buy a Washington apple from Highland Orchards right now, knowing full well that they will have so many varieties of site-grown apples available later in the summer that my head will swim? Yes, I think it is a step in the right direction to purchase even long-distance food from a local independent market if you believe in their mission.

I've made several decisions today. One is to be more attentive to sources as noted on packaging. Another is to substitute local food for "SUV food." Summer is the easiest time for us all to do that, when backyard salad gardens are as easy as dropping a few seeds in some slit bags of dirt. Yes, I actually did that one year and enjoyed some lovely tomatoes, thank you.

What will YOU do?