Summer of Local Foods

 

What does “Local” mean to you?

This winter, myself and a small group of self-proclaimed local food enthusiasts posed the question “What is Local?” to everyone we could get a hold of – neighbors, friends, business owners, small farmers, large farmers, gardeners…

Results were varied, to say the least. Although people overwhelmingly believed that local should mean grown in their community – the definition of community could mean their hometown; a certain mile radius; a portion of the country; or simply grown in the USA.

As I’ve mentioned before, living in downtown Minneapolis put me within walking distance of a handful of farmers’ markets.  These markets are as much of a social gathering as they are a means to stock up on items for the week ahead.

This summer I’ve made a commitment to drive the hour every Saturday to our local farmers market and hopping on board a #SummerOfLocalFoods

I find myself getting to know the handful of vendors that are so passionate about what they grow and raise; and in turn they get me to try new foods (pea shoots, kohlrabi… to name a few).

Now, is farmers’ market food more expensive? Maybe.  Depends if you’re talking about the actual money you dish out or the expense on our environment to get much of the produce you see in the supermarkets.  See what I did there?

Yes, an onion for $2 seems steep, but how often do you buy a bag of onions where half of them go bad before you get to them?

Or, when was the last time you’ve actually TASTED a carrot.  Not just a crisp, orange log that vaguely tastes like nutritious soil [clearly I’m not a big fan of the carrots I grew up with…] but a REAL carrot. Take it from me, more times than not if you try a farmers’ market variety you’ll discover that you may actually LIKE a vegetable you’ve previously written off.

These carrots were so pretty I actually put one bunch in a glass vase and displayed it on my counter for a day or two! (From Springerridge)

I find myself being more resourceful when not confronted with 10+ aisles of food and freezer-ready meals.  I find that I spend less time and money at the grocery store.

After all, in one day I was able to purchase from each of these food groups:

+ Baked Goods. Bleu Cheese & Bacon Loaf; Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
+ Meat.  Canadian Bacon; Soup Bones (for the pup!)
+ Veggies. Onions, Green Beans, Pea Shoots, Carrots & Scallions.
+ Herbs. Rosemary & Basil
+ Dairy. Tomato Basil Cheese

The farmers’ market trips are a start, and I’m proud of the movement in Pierre to get more local foods in peoples’ homes, grocers and restaurants.

One small step, right?  I dig it.

* Looking for the deets on the Pierre area farmers markets? Take a look at Country Farmers Market & Capitol City Farmers Market

** Check out the results of our foods study here!

*** Follow our Dakota Rural Action chapter “Greater Oahe Action League” on Facebook!

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A lunchtime collection from my backyard garden!

 

 

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growth

Growth: it’s what all of us strive for; the only thing that sustains our hunger for more.

From the start of my new job finally pursuing my career in construction management, to learning how to adapt to a farmers schedule and call lunch “Dinner” (and dinner “Supper”) – I honestly can’t think of a dull moment.   Every day has been exciting and exhausting; frustrating and rewarding.  After just three weeks, I look back to where I started when I made the move out here and am constantly surprised on how much I have already grown (although I remain at my 5’3″ stature).

Some examples, you ask? I now know:

…the difference between tassels and silks on a corn stalk and what role they both play in creating corn;

…that deer make an awful sound, like choking, gargling and yelling all at the same time (it’s that disgusting);

…that silos are NOT grain bins;

…how one combine can harvest so many different items (wheat, oats, beans, peas, corn…) and how the different attachments work;

…the dirt here gets into everything and covers you in the finest layer that never comes off;

…there’s a dog vaccine for rattle snake bites (!);

…and sometimes, you just don’t get cell service.

 I can’t say this growth has been without its fair share of growing pains. Luckily I have more to focus on that just my own growth – my garden has officially reached jungle status.  Note: when it says plant zucchini 3′ apart, do it.  When it says one pumpkin plant will suffice, absolutely oblige.

Whether it is the fertilizer Hubby slipped in my garden or all my TLC, my zucchini has been producing at an overwhelming rate and an even more alarming size – think small human baby.  This has lead to many zucchini spaghetti noodles, stir fry vegetables, and soon some zucchini bread!  Even with all that, I’ve given out most of what I pick!

I’ve also harvested my first eggplant which I have yet to figure out what I want to do with it.  I’m thinking eggplant parmesan bites. Also to the list are my first tomatoes and hot peppers!

 

But the BEST part of this week – sunflower fields. Driving past miles of yellow topped fields stretching up to the sun will never get old.  I have a few great shots to capture planned – but am waiting for the right moment.

Until then, here’s a photo of Vinny to wrap up the post! (Like you thought I could get through this without mentioning this little guy…)

Vinny and Frisbee

… Is anybody out there?

(Drumroll please…)

Here it is – the first post!

I’m officially a South Dakotan!

I’ve settled in to the family cabin nestled along the Missouri River – a part known as Lake Oahe.  Although surrounded on either side by other cabins, a resort and campgrounds, the river is in front of me and corn fields (at least this season) are behind me.  Vincent is absolutely loving our morning “runs” which end up as more of glorified hiking/exploration trips.

Panoramic - River Vinny Fields

(Click the photo for full-size)

Additionally, Tuesday marked the first official harvest from my garden!  Unfortunately, I missed the boat with my broccoli and kale, which passed their prime and are being devoured by various garden insects.  Not to be discouraged – it is my first garden after all – I still have promising zucchini, pumpkin, eggplant, sweet corn, popcorn, string beans, snap peas, tomatoes, and pepper plants! Below is a gallery of my Garden so far:

I’m excited with what the future holds for us.  After all, South Dakota is the land of “Great Faces, Great Places,” and so far, it is fulfilling that promise.

And with that, I’ll sign off for now.  What’s for dinner (aka “Lunch”) today? Zucchini Spaghetti with meatballs. Recipe and photos to follow!