First Forage

Last Saturday (9/8) , we ventured out on a foraging trip to a local Farmer’s Market.

Finding a convenient Farmer’s Market is not as easy as you’d think. This is how the supermarkets suck you in–they’re ubiquitous and nearly always open. One even lets you shop online and delivers the food to your door. But they say anything worth having is worth working for.

I Googled on ct farmers markets and found the CT Farm Fresh Web site listed a few links down. (What did we do before Google?) Using their map, I found several farmer’s markets in the county. Most are open one or two days a week during normal business hours. Not a great convenience for working people. However, the Bethel Farmer’s Market (the nearest one by a lot) is open on Saturdays!

So we went. I was impressed with the selection and the number of participating farms. There were tomatoes, lettuces, kale, apples, peppers, onions, more tomatoes, herbs, pies, and much more. I picked a good week for my first forage! The prices were reasonable and for the most part, the quality was super. I left with cilantro, tomatoes, and McIntosh apples. Very happy.

I titled this post First Forage, although this is not my first-ever visit to a farmer’s market; it is the first deliberate forage since reading Kingsolver’s book. I still need to find a market that will solve my “putting by” issues. I also am on the lookout for (egads) meat!

Recap on Why

With all due respect to Henry David Thoreau, I wish to eat more deliberately so that at the end of my days I would not realize that I hadn’t eaten food at all.

Like I said, Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle awakened something in me and lit a match under my butt.

Corporate food favors items that look attractive, package well, ship well, and last through the journey. Local growers have the luxury of choosing genetic lines that taste better and contain more nutrients.

  • I don’t want to eat food provided by one of the six major food corporations controlling the global food supply.
  • I don’t want to eat food that can’t reproduce itself.
  • I don’t want to eat food that traveled 3000+ miles to get to me. I want to pay for food, not transportation.
  • I don’t want to eat food that consists of hormones, pesticides, unnatural fertilizers, and genetic modifications.
  • I do want to eat food that is more nutritious and tastes better.
  • I do want to eat food that is grown sustainably.
  • I do want to be part of the solution.

I am keeping this blog as a place to ask for and share information and a catalog of what I have found.

A New Beginning

I am just about finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. This book inspired me to begin this blog. Barbara Kingsolver is a brilliant writer; you may be familiar with some of her other works, such as The Poisonwood Bible or Prodigal Summer.

I’m not going to do a book review here—there are currently 110 of them at Amazon, and perhaps hundreds of others elsewhere. The basic premise of the book is that her family goes back to the farm in Appalachia and eats local foods for an entire year. Local includes their own farm, a neighbor’s farm, or a farm within 100 miles of their home.

There are dozens of reasons to eat locally, not the least being that the bulk of our commercially available food is tasteless, nutritionless, and consumes more petroleum than our automotive vehicles. The book is informative and moving, practical and fantastic.

She made a believer out of me, perhaps because she’s not one of those in-your-face health food nuts. She acknowledges that it’s impossible to eat everything grown locally–take olive oil and pineapples for example (not in the same recipe). But if you take the time to think about it, you can make much better long-distance choices. The book has a companion Web site for more information.

I wondered if a suburban dweller with a full time day job and could take on an equivalent committment. My gardening skills are in their infancy. I do have a “victory garden” in my yard and it looks liks the Japanese beetles, deer, and chipmunks have declared victory. While Kingsolver’s family spent about $0.50 per meal per person, my total garden yield this summer has been about a dozen tomatoes and a several dozen Jalapenos.

However, I am excited enough about the idea to begin this blog and hear about others adventures in local eating. Share your experiences, your successes (or not) in your attempts to eat closer to home.

I live in Connecticut, just east of Danbury. Can I amend my diet to favor locally produced fare? What’s available in my neck of the woods? Where can I get it? Do I have to “put up” my own produce (canning and freezing) or can I retain my grasshopper-ness?