Saturday, April 30, 2011

Making Space for Local Eating

 Does your schedule leave time for local eating?

I'm passionate about local eating, and I've written before about a second passion I have:  Living Simply.  I follow a blog called "Becoming Minimalist" and a recent post included "Minimalism Quotes...Through the Centuries." I found the following thought provoking: 

"But I deal with this by meditating and by understanding I’ve been put on the planet to serve humanity. I have to remind myself to live simply and not overindulge, which is a constant battle in a material world.”  Sandra Cisneros, 1954

Sandra Cisneros recognized the risk of a complicated life and the potential for it to distract her from what is really important.  Her quote focuses on serving humanity, but we can think about how our choices distract us from using locally sourced foods as well.

For example:  Your kids play soccer Monday night, have gymnastics Tuesday night, karate Wednesday, Boy scouts Thursday and by Friday night you're all exhausted.  But rest up, because Saturday morning is basketball at the YMCA, a birthday party at noon, and shopping until 7 when you head home for Netflix movie.  Or, you're single, yet have a similarly packed activities schedule for yourself. 

With the frenzy, where does local eating fit in?  Could it be possible that saying no to some activities would give you the extra time to start a family garden and teach your kids more important lessons than soccer or karate?  Kids who grow their vegetables actually eat more of them (and adults too).  Could visiting the local farmers' market Saturday morning impact your health in more important ways than basketball?  'Tis the eat more locally! 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Spring Green

"Happiness?  The color of it must be spring green..."  --Frances Mayes, American memoirist

...and green it is!  We got a late start on our garden, due to Miss Clara's arrival.  However, our yard is putting out plenty of dandelion greens, which yes, crazy enough you can eat (unless you use harmful lawn chemicals...but then you probably don't have dandelions like us!)  I blogged about them last year and linked to this excellent article about eating them.  If you're new to the blog, check it out - you've probably enjoyed them in a spring salad without realizing it.

If that's not for you and you're itching to get a taste of some fresh, local green veggies call Chautauqua Hills Farm, home of the best organic blueberries I've ever tasted.  Turns out they grow asparagus too!  And yes, it's available to local foodies now!  Interested, contact Lance or Elizabeth at 620-249-3369. could hit the Kansas Grown Farmers' Market at 21st and Ridge Road which opened in early April and peruse their selection of spring green.

Whatever method you choose, get out there and enjoy your local spring green.  The fresh, local season is here!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Raw Milk: Making me laugh

Our old milk jugs now store wheat for milling into flour.

I asked a friend recently for her son's source for raw milk to add to the Wichita Area Local Producers List.  I laughed out loud when she sent them and be thankful people still do things in this way...somewhere.  If life were only this honestly simple.  I've changed the details, so don't go looking for any milk with these directions.  Here's what she sent me:   

"Paula, Jim's colleague has no name or address for the milk, but he does have directions.  On Highway 80 go west out of Mulvane, turn north on 25th Avenue, then north to 180th.  Turn west, and it's the second house on the right.  It has a dirt circle drive.  The milk is in a jug with a rubber nipple but the jug is emptied every third day, so there is a chance there would be no milk.  Payment is the honor system, to leave $2.50 for each of your own milk jugs."
I grew up taking our glass milk jugs and getting raw milk from a dairy a few miles from our house.  Conversing with the farmers' wife when we picked up our supply.  Ladling the cream off when we got home, pouring it on fresh strawberries from the garden, and using the rest of the milk for breakfasts...while making sure to shake it up each day to distribute the leftover cream.  And I never remember getting sick...But... 
I'm not someone who drinks raw milk regularly today.  I've looked at the numbers, and there is an increase in food borne infection with raw milk vs. pasteurized.  However, I believe we should all be able to choose the food we want to eat...and if you want raw milk, more power to you.  This is a country that was built on freedom, and I hope the freedom to choose our own diet is never taken away...nor the ability to find profit while selling on "the honor system."  

Sunday, April 10, 2011

We love eating local, but we're not local food purists.

Choosing local impacts our local economy.

"Paula, as into natural things as you are, I can't believe you're making that choice."  Someone said this to me recently, and I found it incredibly disturbing.  So, I wanted to share my perspective on local eating and all things natural, because it's unfair to be held to some kind of standard I never asked to be held to.

The way I see it, the more local food choices we all make, the more money stays in our local economy.  Does this mean everything I eat is locally sourced - no.  Sometimes it's because of time restraints, sometimes it's because I just want Girl Scout cookies for dessert, and sometimes it's because I'm just lazy or cheap.  But, our families purchases and intake of locally sourced items has grown over the last year, and I am certain this makes an impact on our area's economy and growers.

As Diana Endicott of Good Natured Family Farms near Kansas City says in "Fresh, The Movie," if everyone would spend just $10 locally each week, that would make a huge impact.  While ten dollars a week doesn't sound like much, in our household of two (now three) that adds up to $80 a month spent locally.  If we spend that amount at the farmers' market on fresh foods, investing in a local farm, rather than spending it at the big box store on tomatoes that come from California, think about the impact that makes on our local economy and environment.  And that's just two of us.

Now, add all the readers of this blog and we've made a huge impact in Wichita.  Wow.  So, don't feel bad if you only purchase a few things locally, at least you're doing that!  And, you can always work to add something else next season, as we're doing this year with the addition of tomatillos in our garden (granted, these aren't purchased but grown).  Fresh, local salsa here we come, and, Girl Scout Cookies...I will always love you too!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Life will never be the same...

Clara Elizabeth - AKA "Claire"

Many of you know we have been awaiting our first baby, who arrive unexpectedly on Thursday, March 10th at 9 p.m. - our intuition told us she would be early and "it" would be a girl, and she is a sweet little girl who came five days early.  At birth she was 7# 9 oz and 19" long - a lot smaller than we expected considering I am 6'0" and Chris is 6'5"...but I'm sure she will grow quickly, especially on the wholesome, locally grown breast milk she gets daily!

My Gma Clara (left) celebrating her 91st birthday with her twin.

One day last February I told my grandmother, Clara, that Chris and I decided if we ever had a girl we planned to name her Clara, after this special woman who lived two miles from my parents and I all my life.  She laughed, along with my 93 year old grandfather.  That same night, she suddenly died from an unexpected stroke, so it was special that I got to share the news with her before she passed, without knowing it would be her last day on earth or that this special little girl would be born just over a year later.  Our daughter's middle name is Elizabeth, after Chris's grandmother.

Unfortunately, labor & delivery was a piece of cake compared to my recovery.  Lil' Ms. Claire gave me a fourth degree tear on the way out, and a possible surgery three months from now.  So, while I love local food and blogging, you may not hear from me as often while I am healing & figuring out this new life - but I hope to return fully soon!  So please, if you pray, pray for me, if you think positive thoughts, send them my way...I'm definitely needing all the help healing I can get right now.