Preparing For the May Eat Local Challenge

Are you ready to eat local?

Or, if not, are you ready to hear about my family and I eating local?

Because, in two days, it will be May, and we will be taking part of in the Locavore’s May Eat Local Challenge, and so all month, you will be treated to recipes using local ingredients, reviews of books related to eating local foods, sustainable agriculture, and similar topics, profiles of local Ohio farmers, food producers and area restaurants that utilize local food, and stories of my continuing quest to find local foods to fill out our diets. Look for provocative essays, and a few laughs here and there, too. Once I get going, it is hard to shut me up.

There are more exciting things to come, including an Eat Local blog and an Eat Local book group–so stay tuned here for more announcements, and as I get the information, I will post it right here, same bat time, same bat channel.

As you can see from the above photograph, I have been busy shopping locally. Last year, during August’s Eat Local Challenge, you might remember me bemoaning the lack of local dairy products. Well! In the past eight months, quite a few things have changed in out corner of Ohio, and now even the local Kroger’s store carries milk from an organic Ohio family farm. Milk, cream and cottage cheese, all produced in Ohio, fresh and good tasting, is now to be found here in Athens.

In addition, I can buy butter in two-pound rolls produced at another Ohio family farm in Wooster Ohio.

And, of course, last year I found locally produced tofu–technicially it is made in West Virginia, but less than 100 miles away -and- it is made from organic soybeans grown just a few miles away from us in Ohio. On top of it all–it is some of the best damned tofu I have ever eaten anywhere!

If you look carefully, you will notice some cornmeal in the back–it is ground from corn grown here in Ohio on a steam-powered gristmill based here in Ohio. That was a gift to us from our friend Bry who had it as a trade from the mill-owner. I suspect Bry did a spot of blacksmithing, and got way more cornmeal than he needed in trade, so he shared with us. That cornmeal is delicious–wholegrain, stoneground cornmeal has the full flavor of corn and is filled with minerals and fiber. Great stuff.

I am still going to try to get ahold of some of the locally grown and ground wheat flour–I know where the farmer is–New Albany, Ohio, but he won’t ship. I guess I may just have to take a trip sometime soon and see if I can bring some back with us. We’ll see what happens this month on the flour front.

As for all the vegetables you see in that picture–stay tuned and hear about how I cook them up into locally centered dinners in the next week. Then, next Saturday, we will go to the Farmer’s Market and see what’s new and different and the whole cycle will start again.

I do try to eat locally anyway, but I love the chance that the Locavore’s Challenge brings to me as a blogger, because it gives me a chance to show how much local food I can find even in a small town like Athens–and I hope that encourages everyone to look around where they live and see what they, too, can find. It isn’t just the Bay Area locavores who get to eat delicious, nutritious meals when they vow to eat locally!

My own rules for the challenge will be the same as last year; I am claiming the same exemptions as before. There is no sense in depriving myself of spices, (except for black pepper, sniff), coffee, tea and soy sauce, just because they are not made in Ohio. The goal of the challenge is not negative–it is not about deprivation. It is positive–it is about what you -can- eat, and being creative with what you find. It is about trying to look at food in a new light.

So, come along with Zak, Morganna, the cats and I as we have yet another local food adventure–because really–no matter what we do in this household–it always ends up to be an adventure.

15 Comments

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  1. I need to work on this more. This May is probably not the best time for launch, but perhaps June. Certainly we have plenty of farmer’s markets and co-ops around here!

    Do you feed the cats local food, too? (Serious question.)

    Comment by Mel — April 29, 2006 #

  2. I am so impressed with what you are managing to come up with — esp. at this time in your life. I wrote you earlier about having lived in Ohio and my times at OU when there was n-o-t-h-i-n-g available for any sort of healthful cooking.

    Thanks for your courage, and I look forward to your posts.

    Comment by kudzu — April 29, 2006 #

  3. I’m doing the ELC, too, from the other end of Ohio (Cleveland). I went to the farmers mkt yesterday and came away laden down–heavy on greens, of course, but still impressive.
    I’ve been looking for local flour, too–I found a place near Youngstown, a restored mill selling their flour in their gift shop, not by mail, unfortunately. (But possibly this is out of your 100 mile range.)
    I also found Rossi Pasta, which seems to be produced in Marietta–but maybe you know about this already.

    Comment by lucette — April 30, 2006 #

  4. I grew up with Spring Creek tofu, and I agree it’s the best. I didn’t even realize it was local till I moved to Nashville and Kroger *didn’t* carry it. I was sad :(.

    But now I’ve found Tennessee-made tofu: All four healthy food stores around us carry FarmSoy tofu that is made in Summertown. I still prefer Spring Creek, but while I’m here, I’ll buy Tennessee products.

    You didn’t forget Rossi Pasta, did you? My mom hand-wrote their labels when they first started back in Athens, before they moved to Marietta.

    Comment by Amelia Sunderland — April 30, 2006 #

  5. No, Mel, I don’t feed the cats local food. The only way to do that is to make their food from scratch–and I could do that, but I don’t. Too many cats!

    On the other hand, when we have catfish or lamb, they can usually cadge a bit of it from us by cajoling, wheedling and begging. That usually works with us.

    The dogs eat pretty locally, however–I know that technically you are not supposed to feed dogs table scraps, but really, they are omnivores. And they are elderly, at that. And they like table scraps–especially spicy ones, so they eat what we eat.

    Kudzu–thanks for posting. It isn’t really brave of me–I already only eat farm-fresh meat from here in Ohio anyway, and farm-fresh eggs. Vegetables–over the winter, I didn’t eat as locally as I could have–but for the other three seasons, I eat in season and local and am perfectly thrilled with it. Grains are an issue–we eat a lot of rice, and rice is notoriously absent in the fields of Ohio. And while wheat is grown here–it is hard to find wheat grown and milled here in Ohio–but I am working on it.

    And now, our dairy intake, with the exception of imported cheeses and Brown Cow yogurt from the northeast, is primarily Ohio-based.

    So, when you read about what I cook here on Tigers & Strawberries, you can rest assured that about eighty percent of it is from local sources–I just don’t go on about it as much as I do during the Eat Local Challenge.

    I think of it as fun, though in truth, I was raised this way. Most of our vegetables, meat and eggs when I was growing up came from my grandparents’ farm, so I am predisposed to preferring the flavor of fresh foods harvested locally. Zak was harder to get on board, but once he started eating real, grass-raised meats, and really fresh eggs, fruits and vegetables, he became enthusiastic almost immediately. There is very little we buy in the grocery store anymore–flour, cereal, (Zak loves his Frosted Mini Wheats) and juices, primarily. (I love V-8–I should probably get a juicer and make my own, but I haven’t taken that plunge yet.)

    Lucette–I know of a farmer in New Albany, which is close to Columbus, who grows wheat and grinds it into flour on his farm. He has never shipped it anywhere, so he is reluctant to do so, so I guess I will have to drive out and pick some up. If it is really good, I may just make a habit of it, since we go to Columbus fairly frequently anyway.

    Rossi Pasta! I have been eating it for years! We first started eating it about fourteen years ago when we lived in Athens the first time around, and fell in love with it such that I bought up a bunch and took it to Providence, RI with me when I went off to culinary school. Every time we visited Athens or West Virginia, we’d pick some up and take it back.

    Now, it is good to be able to get it whenever we like! (You should try their lasagne noodles–they are really, really good, though you have to use a lot of sauce on the bottom of the pan to keep the first layer from sticking!)

    My rule is I will eat anything from Ohio, even if it is outside of a 100 mile radius–I only count the 100 mile radius for food produced in West Virginia. There are lots of small food producers, there, as well–such as the tofu makers–and it is great to support them, too, but I made the rather arbitrary 100 mile cut-off in an attempt to keep the local challenge as local as possible.

    But then, I still eat stuff like soy sauce, chocolate and coffee, too.

    Comment by Barbara — April 30, 2006 #

  6. Amelia, you and I posted at the same time!

    No, I would never, EVER forget Rossi Pasta! I think I even made a post about them during last August’s Eat Local Challenge–here it is: http://www.tigersandstrawberries.com/2005/08/04/eating-locally-tasting-globally/

    I use their pasta often–most of the time, in fact.

    Your Mom used to work for Rossi? Awesome!

    Comment by Barbara — April 30, 2006 #

  7. I have wanted to “make” my cats’ food since I got them, but I’ve never managed to get it together. One of them is pretty kibble-and-canned-centric, anyway.

    Looking forward to your posts, as always.

    Comment by Mel — April 30, 2006 #

  8. Have you thought of looking into raw feeding for your cats? We raw feed our 2 hounds, and source a lot locally – we get raw ‘scraps’ and meaty bones from the local farmer/butcher as well as buying stuff for them from him. We’re just looking into getting some stuff in bulk from the local abattoir, which would be a big help.

    That said, you’ve probably got enough going on right now without investigating raw feeding :-D

    Maybe wait on that one for a while… :-)

    Comment by Steph — April 30, 2006 #

  9. WOW! This is totally awesome! I have a project that could use some cat food recipes!

    http://www.cookbookwiki.com

    We had a contributor add dog food recipes already, but so far no one has spoken up for cats! I am also looking for some contributors and volunteers interested in gaining administration rights over the project! I sure could use you on the team!

    Please contact me if interested!

    Robert Eaton
    http:/www.cookbookwiki.com
    wikimanager@yahoo.com

    Comment by Robert Eaton — May 1, 2006 #

  10. Also could use your worldly knowledge to help with my site!

    Comment by Robert Eaton — May 1, 2006 #

  11. Vegetable soups are good!

    Comment by Juicers — March 19, 2007 #

  12. Where is the farm that sells wheat in New Albany? I live in Columbus and am looking for a local source. Thank you!

    Comment by Andrew — April 17, 2008 #

  13. where is the new albany mill cornmeal being sold if it still exists.thanks,jd

    Comment by jd (john detrick) — May 12, 2008 #

  14. Hi,

    I stumbled across this site looking for a local source of flour. Who is the farmer in New Albany you mentioned? Is he still making flour? I’d like to contact him.

    We have an urban micro-farm in Columbus where we raise chickens (broilers and layers) and grow sprouts, and I lease land for growing produce. We sell our wares directly from home and through several local farmers markets. My wife has recently started making cinnamon rolls for one of the markets, and she’d like for as many of her ingredients as possible to be local. So far, she has been unable to find any white flour.

    A baker friend of ours found a farmer (who also won’t ship) in Newbury, Ohio (156 miles from us) who does white flour, but we’d like to find something closer. Does your farmer in New Albany do white flour? (I’d still like his contact info even if he just does whole wheat.) Thanks.

    Comment by Wayne Shingler — March 8, 2009 #

  15. Wayne–

    I cannot remember the man’s name–I think it was John, but here is the website of his farm, Flying J Farm. I can’t find mention of the flour–I think he was doing it mostly for friends and family, but he may still be growing wheat.

    Here is the web address with contact information: http://www.flyingjfarm.com/index.html

    He was a really nice guy, I hope he can help you out. And if you do find local flour, would you contact me again so I could maybe get some, too? Thanks!

    Comment by Barbara — March 8, 2009 #

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