September, (starting now!) Chris, Gabe and I are participating in Transition Whidbey’s local food challenge to, as much as possible, eat foods grown within a 100 mile radius of our home on South Whidbey Island, Washington. Mind you, I have only lived here for six weeks, so I thought this challenge would be a good chance to learn more about our local food shed, and the rest of the family agreed to give it a try.
I also want to use this challenge as a chance to become more aware of what we eat in general. I expect it will be an interesting exploration and take me to the next level with my commitment to making the right food choices and remind me of the social and economic consequences of my and my family’s food choices.
I don’t want to attempt to eat “only local” for the month, instead I want to use the challenge time to examine my non-local food choices, and to discover new food choices that we can integrate into our family diet for a long time to come.
We are blessed to grow all of our own vegetables in a community garden within walking distance from home. Right now we have plenty of potatoes, chard, spinach, lettuce, carrots, onions, green beans, beets, what else...assorted herbs, cucumbers, zucchini. Right around the bend, we’ll have kale and collards with broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage coming on before winter. This seems to provide us with more than enough variety of vegetables. We buy an occasional avocado and also fruit. Neighbors and friends either give us eggs or we trade for produce.
Last month we ate a lot of bing and Rainier cherries (organic were available for almost the same price as conventional). Now plums, pluots and peaches are all for sale at the farmer’s markets. Since I am new to the area, I am not sure how long these fruit trees of Eastern Washington continue to produce. Blueberries from Oregon have been for sale at the grocery store, and yesterday, a friend brought by some apples from her tree.
With all of that, we still eat a lot of food that we don’t grow, and there are a number of foods we eat which might or might not be available locally.
I am hoping to meet with Georgina, a woman who is producing kamut, hard winter wheat and barley on a seven acre plot in the historic Ebey’s Landing National Historic Preserve. While her land is not Demeter Certified Biodynamic, Georgina uses biodynamic farming practices. I’d like to buy some locally grown wheat from her, although I have no grinder, so I am not sure how we will put it to use. I think she offers flour. The barley we could put in soups.
I spent over an hour on the internet trying to find out how to buy lentils grown in the Palouse region Eastern Washington, even though it is the (self-proclaimed) lentil capitol of the world and home to the National Lentil Festival. I finally did find a couple of sources, but nothing organic so far. Go figure.
So the challenge begins!