Tag Archives: fall

Locavore Equinox: Balancing Out and Celebrating Each Moment

22 Sep

The last stretch of the Locavore challenge comes after the equinox.  That means it’s officially fall, but the balance of daylength and nighttime have symbolic power for the locavore.  The last week on the blog will focus on celebrating the delicious food and the truly awesome organic landscapes around us.  This is a week for us to show off a bit, with the celebrate the harvest dinners you might be planning for the weekend, but also to reflect on ways to work the locavore joy into our lives for the long term.  You’ve likely tried activities that you wouldn’t keep up all year round, simply because you can’t (think of berry picking in February–it’s just not possible in New York) or because you realize that the activity is a bit of a reach for you to do daily or weekly (not everyone wants to bake bread for their family every week).  The theme of balance that comes with the equinox (night and day are the same length) reminds us to think about the ways to pull back from the mania of checking off all the different locavore activities, to slow down after summer, to savor those locavore moments that really bring us happiness.  Sure, the abundance of September also encourages certain obsessions and the drive to put up lots of tomato sauce and salsa while we still can, but in the spirit of the equinox, let’s approach the last few weeks of overflowing market tables with a calm mindset.  Let’s not forget the joy this food (and the sound farming practices that got it to market) brings us and the local food it permits us to eat into the winter.

How to celebrate AND have balance?  This part of the challenge can be the point when you:

  • Decide to become a NOFA-NY member, because you know that this helps sustain farms in New York over the long term;
  • finally pick up a book related to food, farming, agricultural history, food justice, etc. because reading about farming is a different way to engage with your locavore brain;
  • take one last you-pick farm trip
  • engage the photographer or artist within yourself to create a lasting image that will remind you about how important farms are to our culture and communities
  • invite friends over to celebrate bounty (just don’t let it stress you out);
  • decide to patronize a locavore restaurant, because going out to eat is indeed part of your lifestyle and having a locavore option captures that balance that you’ll embrace as a locavore in the next 11 months (until September 2014).

Do whatever means most to you!

Last week, we heard from some of you on Facebook and Twitter about some of the celebrations of local food and farming.

On Facebook, Lynn Clow Burko told us “[I] resolved to purchase only local meats for my family and stuck to it. It can be done!”  Well done–sounds like you challenged yourself to do something new, and realized it was something you might work into your lives year-round.  A great example of stretching your assumptions and then realizing this fit into the balance of your budget and meal planning anyways!

Sarah’s family update for the week also exemplifies the concept of the change of seasons and inserting some slowing-down and balancing-out joy in her locavore activities. “With our CSA shares coming to an end and the vegetables taking a bit longer to grow and ripen in our garden, we have begun thinking about the fall season. Basil  has been plentiful in our CSA shares and garden this summer, and our final CSA share this week came with a basic recipe for pesto, so we’re making and preserving pesto for the final Locavore activity for my kids’ Locavore journals. It’s really the perfect recipe for my kids, simple and easy. Plus, we have a manual hand pump food processor that makes the whole process take a bit longer, letting us savor the work a bit more than with an electric processor. My kids help me cook often, but I suspect that making pesto will bring together a lot of our conversations and activities from this past month, making it a bit more of a memorable cooking experience for them. I also like the idea that through food preservation my kids will learn to avoid letting food go to waste and to think ahead when it comes to food and taking care of themselves.

A few Facebook friends shared their culinary endeavors with us.  Shannon Sodano told us that her potluck included, “homemade applesauce, stuffed tomatoes, sweet potato and leek soup, pumpkin apple and sage soup, beet salad with pistachios apple and arugula and homemade ice cream and watermelon and peach pie for dessert.”

A locavore potluck in Brooklyn.  Photo credit--Shannon Sodano, Sept. 2013.

A locavore potluck in Brooklyn. Photo credit: Shannon Sodano, Sept. 2013.

MaryBeth Anderson, also via Facebook, shared this image of a panzanella salad with us.  The local produce, herbs and homemade bread were balanced out with some special ingredients like olive oil and garbanzo beans.  A great example of finding the locavore option that works within her lifestyle.

MaryBeth Anderson local panzanella

MaryBeth Anderson’s local panzanella salad.

As for yours truly, I plan to visit the longer articles I’ve bookmarked for myself to read about our food system, to gain a more internal appreciation of the work we’ve been doing at NOFA-NY.  I won’t promise to finish the agrarian landscape-setting books I have checked out from the library, but I’m excited to make some forward progress this week, as the preserving projects take less of my time (I’ve called the end of my tomato-canning season since I have run out of pantry shelf space) and the new chilly fall weather encourages me to curl up in bed a little earlier each night.  On my list (still): Wendell Berry’s work, Turn Here Sweet Corn and A Thousand Acres.  I’m also planning to soak up more of the beauty of the farming landscape as I travel for one final on-farm work trip before frost settles in.

Let’s conclude this long read with something more powerful than words about balance and celebration.  This image of a sheep farmer (who is also our dedicated NOFA-NY board president) at dawn exemplifies the patience and passion of those who care for our land and for our bodies.  We celebrate these farmers every time we choose local and organic food.  Having this food available depends on all of us (don’t forget the ways you chose to take action), keeping a balance of locavore-positive moments all year.

Maryrose Livingston of Northland Sheep Dairy walks her pasture at dawn. (Photo credit: Liz Henderson, Sept. 2013)

Maryrose Livingston of Northland Sheep Dairy walks her pasture at dawn. (Photo credit: Liz Henderson, Sept. 2013)

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I NEED the dark days challenge…

8 Dec

From Rachel

Sigh.  That’s how I feel about my local eating lately.  Since the end of September, Rochester has still been awash in great local and organic produce, and I’ve definitely been relying on the farmers for fruits and veggies.  We’ve been fortunate with really mild weather, and it’s almost DECEMBER!  Still, despite the good habits I formed during September, including purchasing local only flours, etc. I do feel I’ve lapsed a bit.  It doesn’t help that my inventory of local polenta, freekeh and oats ran out, but I’ve still been using local wheat flour and eggs.  I lapsed on making my own soy milk, I’m using (fair trade) white and brown cane sugar more than local sweeteners, etc.  So I’m SO glad there’s a new challenge to kick me into gear.  I like the Dark Days Challenge because it’s the moderate approach to locavore…I wouldn’t be a content locavore every meal of every day, as we all know.  But my favorite foods are the ones that star local organic fair produce, so this is a great choice for me to use as sort of a practiced meditation on that concept during the winter. It’s like going to that really intense yoga class even though you sort of do yoga in your living room most mornings or something like that.

“Good Enough Reason”

Though eating local is instinctively a good idea, I find myself faced with when to use the results of long summer afternoons storing food for this very occasion.  I don’t have enough stored to eat these foods all winter, so they become extra special to me.  They become like a collection of good wine for some people…wine that never gets enjoyed because it’s so special.  I dehydrated, pickled, canned and froze foods all summer and fall so I would enjoy it, not just enjoy looking at it, but I know that a lot of that food will not get opened if I don’t have a “good enough reason.”  I sort of rang a starting bell on opening jars at Thanksgiving.  Seemed like a special enough occasion and like it was late enough in the year (never mind the non-frozen ground outside that is yielding heavenly sweet kale and big ol’ carrots and more).  When I post about Dark Days, I plan to give a run-down of the stored foods opened and the fresh foods used, which will encourage me to open and celebrate the fresh taste of summer and fall while snow (maybe) falls outside.

On Thanksgiving and next day:

  • Pickled green tomatoes (canned Sept. 2011)
  • Ginger-Pear-Lime preserve (canned August 2010–only three jars were made of this heavenly stuff, and I thought a first holiday meal with a significant other’s family was “good enough reason” to break out the final jar)
  • Delicata squash (brought in a huge bin into the NOFA-NY office by our at-large technical assistance specialist, who is a lifelong farmer who obviously knows just how to grow and cure winter squashes, that flesh was dang dense and sweet)
  • Rosemary and parsley (my windowsill)
  • Beets and Turnips (from last CSA pickup back in October)
  • Carrots, potatoes, garlic, onions (local farmers)

Annnnd forgot to take pictures of how all this glorious food came together.  There was a pickle tray with Lea’s refrigerator pickles, beans, garlic scapes and my green tomatoes.  The ginger-pear-lime went on bread on Friday, next to cranberry relish.  Squash and veggies were roasted and mixed into a quinoa salad (dressing included South River miso, soy sauce, organic orange juice, windowsill parsley, butternut squash seed oil) for Friday.  The rosemary roasted potatoes that I made were probably the winner in the local-ingredients content, as only the olive oil, salt and pepper were not local.  So, not doing too bad without really trying, but I’m all fired up reading some other blogs, ready to challenge myself to highlight local non-vegetable ingredients again.

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