Sunday, December 25, 2011

Late to the Party

I want to know how I failed to hear about the Locavore Movement in 2006? I was here.

But here it is six years later, and I'm only really just discovering this. Weston A. Price Foundation has helped by talking about seasonal eating. I've been making serious moves into raising my own beef, lamb, eggs, chickens and salad for about a year now. I still have a way to go on this, but at least I'm moving in the right direction.

But I only just found this  in Time Magazine today. And it's from 2006!

Okay, so I'm late. But let's see where I am. I found a website called Free Map Tools that lets me run a radius around my home. At 100 miles, my limit for food sourcing runs right to Dale City, Virginia; right through the heart of Richmond City; and right up to Newport News. My circle does include the Chesapeake Bay and most of the Potomac River and the Eastern Shore. If you want to see where I am, (or play with this and see where you are), click on this website and then type in my zip code: 22473.

Now, what I get to keep in my food list is significant: Seafood! The Chesapeake Bay provides an abundance of local seafood including Blue Crab, oysters, mussels, clams, croakers, seabass, bluefish, and an occasional shark and ray along with interesting local fish like eel. There are fresh water tributaries which host fish like blue catfish, channel catfish and sunfish. Sometimes you can pull a nice bass out of a local, stocked pond; but you gotta know someone to get there.

What is not on my list is a place to get coffee, molasses, sugar or black tea. I can get herbal teas, honey, and I can probably score some sorgum if I look hard enough. I will have to figure out how to source the basics for the kombucha, however.

I can get all of my meat, eggs, and milk locally, but butter in any quantity might be a problem, depending on where the butter I had been getting in two pound rolls is sourced. Pecans and peanuts are not a problem and I can probably get walnuts from time to time. I can grow sunflower for seed and I can get plenty of pumpkin seeds when they are in season. I'm not worried about vegetables and most fruits either as our local farm markets and farmer's markets are well stocked.

Of course, this project assumes I don't start this today but wait until Spring when I can start stocking up on veggies I passed by last time they were in season. This go round, I would need to preserve as much of the bounty as I can while it's in bounty. If I ddn't do that, we would go many months without green veggies. I would need to find a good source for paste tomatoes or grow a mess of them myself successfully. Not as easy as it should be considering I work full time away from home. I can grow lettuces in a sunny window through the winter, along with bean sprouts, but would need to get those seeds brought in from outside of the area.

But looking at my pantry now, I have things on there that I know I will miss: anchovies both dried and canned, sardines, olive oil, capers, tapioca and salt, fresh oranges, lemon and lime juice and cous cous are among the things I would miss. I think I could find a local farmer who raises wheat and rye for bread, but I'm not sure I could find one who is doing it organically or even GMO free. I can get corn meal and grits from George Washington's Birthplace and it's really good stuff.

100-mile buying would probably eliminate rice and most pasta from our diet and while I might make pasta from scratch for special occasions if I can get the flour, coconut meal and coconut oil would be out.

From what I've read, fair trade commodities are permitted. I'm thinking that a 50 pound bag of organic flour purchased once, uses up less petroleum resources than a 5 pound bag purchased once every month or so. If I put all those bulk purchases into a one-time UPS delivery, then I might be doing better to get a 5 gallon bucket of coconut oil, a large order of tea, sea salt,and flour all at one time. Olive oil can be ordered by the gallon and I imagine the sardines, lime juice and capers could be ordered by the case.

I know folks in the Northern Neck have been making do on the local scene for literally centuries. George Washington's birthplace, while heavily dependent on slave labor, did manage to be; for the most part, self sufficient. Their cash crop of tobacco, allowed them to order silk and other other fabric from England. But they even able to produce much of their own basic fabric made from hemp, linen and wool. They did import some sugar, rum, wine, and lemons and other hard to produce local items. But they had an amazing assortment of goods that were produced locally.

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