Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Eating locally

I went to the farmer's market this morning. I go occasionally, but I've decided to make it a regular habit. I am eager to experiment with eating from what's available locally, rather than letting my eating habits be driven entirely by what I want or what sounds good.

Our meals over the weekend were a mixture of things from chain grocery stores, a natural/local market, and the bounty of the farm. I'm not sure what I expected, but it really surprised me how much better things tasted. For dinner on Friday, I grilled some buffalo steak that the farm's owners left for us. I marinaded it in olive oil, red wine, and rosemary. That was paired with roasted tomatoes and eggplant, fresh from the garden, coated in olive oil, garlic (from the farm - yum!), and basil, and topped with fresh Parmesan cheese. We had some corn on the cob too, and dessert was vanilla ice cream topped with maple syrup and maple and brown sugar coated pecans.

On Saturday, we had a huge breakfast of scrambled eggs, gathered the night before, whipped with fresh goat milk. We picked green, yellow, orange, purple, and red peppers to dice and add to the eggs. Some onion (from the grocery store) and garlic rounded out the flavors. We had a fruit salad with organic yogurt on the side. It was filling enough that we skipped lunch. Dinner consisted of a locally-raised organic roast, stuffed with garlic, and cooked with potatoes, carrots, and onions, deep-fried squash blossoms picked that morning, roasted garlic, salad, homemade yeast rolls, and a peanut butter-chocolate pie made with fresh goat cheese from the farm.

Sunday was our last day there, so we added some fried zucchini and homemade biscuits to our leftovers. I ate so much at lunch I felt full for the rest of the day.

Now this is a diet I couldn't sustain and expect to keep the weight off. It is also more time-consuming that I can manage, but the fact remains, I can eat far more locally than I do, and what intrigues me about the possibility is that it will encourage me to be creative about meals, rather than just relying on the old stand-by bowl of cereal or salad or whatever processed food strikes me at the moment.

It amazes me that this appeals to me at all. For years my father had a garden, a huge garden that often fed far more than his own family. I worked in it with him, but only because it was expected of me, not because I had any interest in it. I regret that now. I wish I had learned more from him. But this weekend the experience of walking out to the garden in the morning and eating something picked for breakfast, and gathering eggs the night before, and drinking milk from a goat I milked touched a place deep inside of me.

I was aware all weekend of a deep sadness, a grief I guess, that is still hard for me to articulate. There was a powerful experience of connection and a sense of rightness about what we did this weekend. We slowed down and cooked creatively. We enjoyed the beauty of the world around us. At each meal and throughout the weekend, we expressed our gratitude to the land, to the animals, to those whose work helped produce the bounty we enjoyed. We enjoyed each other.

It's what a connection to the land does for me every time I take time to experience it, and yet my city life seems to feed a disconnection. For now, I see promise in choosing to eat differently, to visit the farmer's market regularly and let what's available prompt my meal planning.

But... I wonder how much longer I can be content to live in the city, how much longer I can ignore the deep longing to live closer to the land.


Yankee T said...

There's a terrific farmer's market in our city, plus we have all those wonderful trucks with melons in the back from local farmers. The watermelon and canteloupe are unbelievable.
I love the city too much to move away, but I sure love the access to local foods. I could go to a farm on the weekends happily.

Marie said...

I can't wait to see where this leads you.

Cathy said...

I hope you are going to join us for October RGBP's book discussion of Kingsolver's book Animal Vegetable Miracle.

I have posted a similar post on eating locally and joined a garden subscription service - community supported agriculture. Just got our first delivery!