I have been working on a project involving the “Local” food movement. Its in a very early stage and what still needs to be determined is what exactly is “local”? We need to draw some parameters and some perimeters before we can go any farther. Maybe you have some thoughts on what is local. Please share them.
I think the first question is why? Why do we want our food to be local. I think that we are all concerned about nutrition. The fresher the fruit and vegetable the more nutrition. That one is easy. But what about other products? What about bread? And do you be concerned about the basic ingredients that go into it like flour, salt, yeast? If you were going to eat totally local would you completely eliminate any product or part of a product that came from far away?
After nutrition, the most important reason to buy locally would probably be the cost and carbon footprint of getting the product from the grower/producer/manufacturer to your local market. This starts to get complicated. What about markets that have central warehouses? What about the ingredients that are shipped to the producer first?
I would never suggest that anyone could actually completely eat locally, but here are some of the ideas that I came up with if one wanted to try this for a given period of time, say a month:
- PRODUCE, has to be local. If it is not grown within a certain radius (this will differ depending on where you live but should be the closest possible farmland). You can’t live without produce so you just need to keep it as local as possible and also SEASONAL. The reason that some produce in the grocery is from other parts of the world is because it is in season there right now. Any produce that is not indigenous should also be red lined. Skip the Mangos.
- MEAT, I think the same should apply with meat. It’s much easier to leave out, so if you don’t have cows within a short drive, do without.
- FISH, Same with fish. If you are in the mid-west then it’s trout and other stream and lake fish. I live near the ocean but SEASONAL still plays a role.
- BAKED GOODS, This one is tricky. If the grain comes locally and is ground locally (within the same established radius) then you are good. There is no local flour company in Los Angeles any longer. There are a few bakers that grind there own. There are also affordable mills available. When in doubt, leave it out. You really don’t need the extra calories.
- PROCESSED FOODS, Forget it. They are from other planets and you do not need them. Totally red line anything in a bag, box, can or jar.
- WINE, I thought long and hard about this one. I think that this all depends on the amount you drink. There should be a formula something like 2 cases to a tank of gas per month. For instance, I can drive to the local wine country and back on a tank of gas and buy two cases of wine. That should last me a month. If I wanted to buy a bottle of french wine, the formula would probably work out to be more like 1 bottle a month. The good news is that wine is made in 49 of the 50 states. I think that this could apply to all other drinks as well.
- STAPLES, If you bake bread yourself (from the grain that you mill), you are still going to need yeast and salt. You will need some sort of fat (Olive oil, butter). I think one could apply a general rule to be aware of the source and buy accordingly. After all, this whole experiment is about raising awareness.
Now for the recipe. I wanted this to really pay off. My hair brained ideas sometimes take patience. Given that it’s Friday, and you just read the ramblings of a mad man, I think it’s time for a drink.
This is a concoction that follows the rules above, is in season and really amazing. It reminded me of a “Push Up” or known to some of you as a 50/50 bar; the vanilla ice cream, orange sherbet concoction from our youth.
Makes 2 Drinks
- 2 Shots Tito’s Handmade Vodka (From Austin, Texas)
- 2 Shots Triple Sec (Buy it once a year)
- 2 Tangerines
- 1 Meyer Lemon
- 2 Martini Glasses
- 1 Shot Glass
- 1 Drink Shaker
- Hand Juicer/Strainer
- Wet the martini glasses and put them in the freezer. They only need to be in there as long as it takes to make the drinks. 20 minutes is perfect but not necessary if you are thirsty.
- Over a handful of ice in the shaker add vodka and triple sec.
- Squeeze the juice from the tangerines and lemon.
- Pour into martini glasses. Optionally garnish with a slice of tangerine.