Eating Local

October is only a few days away, and that means that some folks around here are gearing up for a month of local eating. This year, both the SB Farmer’s Market and the Community Environmental Council are co-sponsoring the Eat Local Challenge month along with Edible Santa Barbara. For us, this means we’ll do our Eat-from-our-Yard week long challenge October 1-7, and then commit to only eating food grown in SB County for the rest of the month. Edible SB included a feature about us in the Fall 2012 issue, and CEC just wrote a nice blog post, found here. How’s that for accountability?

With less than a week to go, I feel relaxed: anything still growing or near harvest doesn’t need to be preserved (except maybe in the fridge), and there’s nothing I can do at this point to increase the harvest yield, although I did plant a few lettuce starts last weekend. I still have millet to thresh and buckwheat to grind. And maybe a few cabbage worms to deal with on the kale – but otherwise, we’re in the home stretch now!

A friend of mine shared this article with me last year, and I meant to share it a long time ago. But it’s still relevant today, and may provide that extra boost you need to consider what eating local means to you, and what you are going to do about it. Here’s the gist: 99% of what is grown in SB County is exported, but 95% of the fruits and vegetables consumed in SB County are imported from elsewhere. What?? Maybe I should wait til the end of October to say definitively that I could survive on SB county-produced food alone, but that statistic just seems ridiculous to me. One look around our farmer’s market and I’m easily overwhelmed with meal ideas.

The concept of “local eating” has been gaining ground in the last few years, from Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle to the many school gardens popping up, all over the country. For me, I like to know exactly where my food comes from, and if buying locally means keeping dollars in my community – all the better. Food is one of those things that most of us DO have a choice about, and our choices really do make a difference. So I encourage all of us to think about what choices we’ll make in the next month around where our food comes from.

Here are a few tips:

Shop at the Farmer’s Market. Hands down the best way to learn what’s in season, in your community. Sometimes it may cost a little more than the supermarket, but try to think about the bigger picture: at the market, the farmer gets your money. At the supermarket, big corporations get your money (and the farmer gets almost nothing).

Search out Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in your area. This is an even better way to make a strong connection with a local farmer, and get something delicious in return.

Plant something where you live. This could mean you build a raised bed in your backyard. Plant a tomato in a pot on your patio. Grow some herbs on your window sill. The point is, just grow something with your own hands, and then eat it.

We don’t have too much fruit growing in our yard yet, but we do have a very productive pineapple guava tree. I’ve been freezing them whole to use in smoothies next week, and I also made a batch of delicious jam with hints of lemon, lime, and Tahitian vanilla bean (not to eat next week, but for trading and gifts). On a particularly hot day last week, I made a simple refreshing smoothie with lime and guavas – and its definitely going to come in handy next week when we’re craving something sweet!

Pineapple Guava Cooler

5-6 pineapple guavas, ends chopped off (optional to only use the scooped out flesh – I don’t mind the skins, but some people do)

1-2 limes, juiced

1-2 tbsp honey

8-10 ice cubes

Just enough water to blend

Put all ingredients in blender and whizz away. Only add enough water to blend or to your desired thickness.

One thought on “Eating Local

  1. Dave says:

    Regarding the import/export: after talking with produce managers, I know that many grocers in SB have the food taken from SB to LA where it is inspected in the warehouse and then shipped back to SB where it get put on display with a “local” tag or whatever. They have tried to change this or come up with a workaround, but due to safety concerns and company policy, they cannot avoid this. Pretty sill right??!?!?

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