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2013 Locavore Challenge: End of the Month, Beginning of Your Individual Adventure

1 Oct

October 1st is here, so we bid a farewell to the intensity of September 2013’s Locavore Challenge.  We don’t want you to stop being locavores.  We do want you to keep up the great habits you built, keep learning and challenging yourself to support local organic food and farms.  We’re not going to entirely abandon our communication with you all through the blog and social media, but this is the time for you to venture out and find your locavore lifestyle balance.  Seek out your locavore-positive moments, don’t obsess when it doesn’t bring you joy, and cherish each experience you have (the winter holidays are a great time to go out of your way to prepare a locally-sourced food, whether a side dish or a feast for 20 family members).  Keep in touch, and we will do the same!

Before you go…

NOFA-NY would like to say thank you to all of our participants, sponsors, restaurants, partners, and farmers that have made this a successful month.  Whether this was your first or fourth time pursuing the Locavore Challenge, we hope that you learned valuable information about eating local and supporting New York State organic farmers while working toward building a sustainable food system in your community.

Please tell us what you thought about this year’s challenge in this brief Locavore Challenge survey.  Your responses (entered by October 16th) will help us make next year’s challenge even better. You can also enter for a chance to win a cash prize.  Thanks!

Sarah's daughter inspects basil from the CSA before the pesto-making experiments result in some garlicky green goodness to stow away in the freezer for a chilly day's meal.

Sarah’s daughter inspects chard from the CSA. We can’t wait to see what other local vegetables she gets into by September 2014!


Announcing the People’s Choice Locavore Essay Winner

1 Oct

Congratulations to Melissa Brody for her essay titled Connecting the Pieces, chosen by our blog readers as their favorite essay. Both Melissa and reader Mary Carey from Brocton, NY will receive a year’s subscription to Taproot Magazine. Below is Melissa’s essay. Thanks to everyone who weighed in on their favorite piece, and to all our fantastic authors.  Remember, they’re archived on our 2013 Essay Contest Page for you to enjoy any time you need some inspiration in the dark winter months.


Connecting the Pieces by Melissa Brody

My mom opened the fridge, searching for options. I had barely arrived and she already wanted to fill me with food. She turned and proudly announced she had bought brown eggs. She didn’t want to feel judged. “Where did they come from,” I asked. She stared at me in disbelief, then huffed, “Where did this obsession with local come from? You were never like this before.” She was right.

Growing up, I didn’t think twice about where my food came from; food was just there. While I was in college, a trip to McDonalds occurred at least once a week, and although we cooked, we opted for the exotics—mangoes, avocados, pineapples. They made us feel fancy. Yet somewhere along the way things changed, rapidly. My curiosity awoke and suddenly I wanted, no, needed, to know exactly what I was consuming and where it came from.

I traded exotic delicacies for local produce. My senses became alive to the touch, smell, sight, and taste of local food. The first time I tasted an heirloom tomato, I wondered why I spent so many years forcing flavorless supermarket tomatoes down my throat. I became aware of the thick layers of wax that coated far-traveled cucumbers. For the first time I saw baby carrots for what they really were, and considered the labor and waste that went into making those perfectly petit creations.

I became jaded at first, angry about what people bought. Why sell California strawberries in June when they’re growing practically at our feet? Asparagus in December no longer seemed natural. But through my adventure into local, I found so much more than food. Eating local brought me community. We joined a co-op. I no longer dreaded food shopping because I now had a say not just in what I was eating, but what the store carried. We joined a CSA and found neighbors we never knew we had. We visited farms and farmers markets, learning not just where but how our food grew.

Food now had a face. Picking up a fava bean brings me back to the farm stand where the farmer took time to explain how to peel the beans and his favorite way to prepare them. A spoonful of applesauce reminds me of the unseasonably warm September weekend we spent picking apples upstate, then bringing the fruit home to can. An omelet transports me to my first visit to Stone Barns where I collected eggs while chickens pecked at my sneakers.

My journey as a locavore has affected my life in ways I could never have imagined. I look at the world differently. I have yet to pinpoint the moment in my life when everything changed. I’m not sure who or what convinced me to question why raspberries, peas, and butternut squash are always available all year long. But I’ve learned to connect the pieces—to understand my impact on this earth, to realize the labor that goes into the meal that sits in front of me and to savor each bite that enters my mouth.

About the author: Melissa Brody is a marketing professional by day, food blogger by night. She is an advocate of the local food movement and founding member of the Bay Ridge Food Co-op. Melissa’s blog, Brooklyn Locavore features seasonal original and adapted recipes and locavore finds.


Join us on Pinterest for more #Locavore!

3 Jul

We’re pretty proud of our Pinterest boards celebrating local organic food and farming. We hope they’re helpful tools for you, as our pinning crew goes beyond pretty food pictures to help you find books to read, restaurants and markets to visit, and more! Our earnest promise, when pinning recipes, is to only use those recipes that already (or can) contain a reasonable percentage of in-season New York foods, or that highlight a particular local ingredient in a cool way. For instance, you probably won’t find pinned pictures of lemonade (lemons just don’t grow in New York, though it would be nice), but you will probably find pictures of apple cider punch. Check us out at NOFAis4farmers!

We’ve been using hashtags of #diylocavore and #makeitlocavore, along with our standard #locavore, to help you sort through information.  So if you’re a recipe hacker who likes to substitute and source ingredients, you’ll like the #makeitlocavore tips.  If you’re all about from-scratch and putting food away for winter, we’re pleased to help you out with #diylocavore recipes and projects.

Here’s a little preview of our board called Recipes for Local Products:Pinterest Locavore Board Screenshot

A New Inspired Locavore = Success

27 Sep

Guest Post by Kelly Fisher, Locavore Participant

I joined the NY Locavore Challenge this month because eating locally grown and produced foods is a new interest of mine.  I joined my first CSA this year, with a farm that is right down the street from my house.  I truly look forward to my Monday pick ups at the farm! I love the smells of the fresh produce and moist earth and the sound of the bluegrass music playing when I walk in.  I love the way the mounds bright purple eggplants look, and the trays of red, yellow, green, and striped tomatoes.  I learn something new each Monday that I pick up my share — what to do with a celery root, how green beans hide in bunches among the leaves, and that the flower part of dill is really good for pickling.  I look for something worthwhile and purposeful and valuable in pretty much everything I do, and this experience has proved immensely satisfying in that department.  Taking the time to go to the farm, get my fresh produce, learn how to use it, and eat all of those healthy and delicious vegetables each week and feed them to my family and friends is one of the best uses of my time that I can think of.  I am joining a winter CSA now too!

In addition to joining the CSA, a friend of mine gave me a book called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle — A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver that I am reading this month.  It is such a great read!!  Kingsolver is an amazing writer, and this book is about her family sustaining on purely local foods for a year and writing about the experience.  They grow their own produce, have chickens that provide them with eggs and meat, and go into the woods to pick their own mushrooms.  There are really good recipes in the book as well.  Kingsolver is a Locavore guru! 

This experience has opened my eyes to the world around me, because everywhere I go now I look for local products such as honey, maple syrup, apples, and eggs.  I have discovered that it really is not that much more effort to make your own tartar sauce than it is to find the cheapest one in the store that has the least amount of junk in it that I have a coupon for that looks the best that… you get what I am saying!  Feeling connected to my surroundings is invaluable.  I think many of us go through our days disconnected from nature and our origins and instead connected to our phones and computers and tvs.  I find it refreshing to get a break from that, and reconnect to my community and the ground I walk on.  Taking part in the Locavore Challenge has been a great way for me to begin what I know is a lifelong journey!

Being a Locavore is More Than Just Local Food

1 Sep

Lea’s back to blogging! Thanks to Rachel and Katie’s guest posts yesterday.  I hope that throughout the month this blog will help to introduce you to each of the wonderful NOFA-NY staff and get a little glimpse into each person’s life and personality.  Isn’t that the joy of blogs? They can be so anonymous and public, but yet so private all at the same time.

So, back to the topic area.  It’s September 1st, which while technically not yet fall, has always been the point in the calendar at which I would cringe (and often cry) and think summer is officially over!  Maybe it was because the start to school was so closely around the corner, maybe because the leaves are just beginning to turn, but likely it’s just because “September” sounds nothing like summer!  But this year I am embracing September, and instead of fearing it, I’ve been craving it.  Much of that has to do with the Locavore Challenge.  Not only is it the favorite program that I run all year long for NOFA, but its also a time for me to focus and commit.  To me summer is about freedom-no rules, no curfew and in all ways possible being glutonous.  I’ve certainly done my share of being glutonous this summer and my head and my waistline have been begging for a bit more committment, structure and focus.  As I’ve mentioed before I’ve been on the road quite a bit this summer and have succumbed to more than my fair share of quick pizza, burritos, beer, margaritas, etc., etc…  Fast food really lives up to its name.  It is SO quick, and so initially satisfying. But 20 minutes later that quick satiation alwasy turns to regret and often to guilt on my part.  My stomach has had enough regret for one summer.  Hasn’t yours? 

As I’ve prepared for the Locavore Challenge, and for the beginning of September over the last week I’ve noticed that I have started to shift focus not only just in my approach to food, but also in my approach to life.  I have been choosing a walk or run after work followed by an evening of food preservation, followed by reading as opposed to an extended happy hour, late dinner out or late night at the office.  As a result, my energy level has increased, my focus on home, family and friends has become more positive and I feel balanced.  I think this is what life felt like before we became distracted by technology and social media, and fast food and shiny objects.  When we as humans are concsciously aware of how our food is grown (and participate in growing it), active in preparing it and present as we consume it, we become grounded in one of the most basic joys of life-nourishment.  There is so much happening around us everyday that is sad, complex and difficult that focusing in the simple acts of growing, preparing and eating food-alone or with loved ones is truly a beautiful act.  Be conscious of these moments and cherish them.  Remember, September only has 30 days.

What I’ve been up to:

Braised Beef Short Ribs (from Whitney Farms) with Garlic Mashed Potatoes (both from Peacework Farms)-served with a dry NYS white wine, candle light and a cool late summer breeze.   Savoring the last night of August with a very loved one.

Kielbasa with Braised Cabbaged and Sauteed Green Beans, Garlic and Tomatoes-served with a semi-sweet NYS red wine and Honey Peach Ice-cream for dessert.  Celebrating the first day of Locavore with my mother and step-father.

If every night is like the last two, the September will not only be delicious but also full of love and laughter.  Enjoy your own celebrations this week and this month.  Make sure to savor each moment with the food you are so carefully making and with the loved ones around you.

5 Days until the Challenge-Task: Stocking Your Pantry

26 Aug

Another post by Lea, Assistant Director (if you are sick of me already-nudge my co-workers to pick up the slack!):

Re-stocking your pantry is a pretty daunting, and humbling task.  As the creator of the NY Locavore Challenge, a full-time staffer for NOFA-NY and a local foods devotee I was a little dismayed that when I looked in my cupboard and found just 2 local items right now.

One is a product I never tried last year, but can’t wait to try out this year-Kasha.  Kasha is one of several buckwheat products grown and produced locally by Birkett Mills in Penn Yan.  They have a full product line, and many (including the Kasha) are gluten-free.  Check out their website or our recipe section for a variety of recipes using their products.  The second item is a Flour City Pasta orzo.  It’s produced right here in good ‘ole Rochester, and the grain from the 100% emmer pasta is grown locally.  Check with them directly for other locavore items, but be prepared that once you have the emmer pasta, regular pasta will never do again!

So, clearly I cannot live for 30 days on a single box of Kasha and a bag of Emmer Orzo.  Which means it’s time for a little conscious pantry shopping.  I was able to procure a few local items last night at Abundance Co-op while I waiting for my CSA pick-up: a bag each of Cayuga Pure Organics pinto beans and black beans, a jar of honey, maple syrup and container of Soy Boy Organic Tofu which sources almost all of its soybeans within 260 miles of Rochester. 

I get just about all of my veggies from my CSA through Peacework Organic Farm, and what I don’t get there, I usually source from our wonderful area Farmers’ Markets and from friends and families gardens. So my shopping focus is primary grain, oil, protein and fruit based.   

My small but imporant list should get me ready for the month ahead. :

Stolor Organic Sunflower Oil
Meadow Creek Butter, Cheddar Cheese and Plain Yogurt
Cayuga Pure Organics Emmer, Polenta, Cornmeal and Wheat Flours
-Organic Eggs
-2 Organic Chickens-for making stock, soup and having some pre-cooked chicken available in the freezer
-1 pound bacon and/or sausage from my friends at Whitney Farms
-As much local fruit as I can get my hands on for making juice, sorbet and for flavoring ice-cream
Chevre and Feta from First Light Creamery

Great, now I am hungry and don’t have any of this amazing local food to eat yet.  I’m headed out to the market now-wish me luck!

Up Next: Blog posts on Pickling, Preserving, Making Stocks and Sauces and more.

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