Eating Local for Urban Families. Gluten-free and Dairy-free, too!

Tuesday, September 11

Food dreams

I am dreaming about food. Almost every night. I fall asleep to visions of tomatoes hanging heavy off of jungles of vines, more than I know what to do with but I want to cook and preserve them all, as if the salvation of the human race depends on it. In my dreams I wander abandoned roads deep into forests, searching, my feet sinking deep into mud, winter sun keeping watch through the skylight in the canopy. I wake from non-sensical discussions about the scarcity of blackberries wondering how it is that I haven’t bought any this year, though I’ve eaten a few picked from overgrown brambles, perhaps even in my own backyard.

Every aspect of this project speaks to the prominent, if conflicting, aspects of my personality: my sense of artistry (the writing, the photography), my perfectionism (it must be purely local), my controlling nature (the deep planning and sourcing required), my contrasting tendency to just wing it when I can’t be bothered to come up with a plan (dinner most evenings), my idealism (eating local will save the world), and then my pragmatic side (Ovaltine will not bring down civilization). Thank god for my pragmatic side. Imagine what I would be without it.

It doesn’t help that the idea of eating local is on NPR all the freaking time. And this topic isn’t really new in the Northwest. Five years ago my friend, Erika Polmar, started Plate and Pitchfork, an evening of gourmet food smack in the middle of the field where it was harvested. (We had our anniversary dinner at their last dinner at Gaining Ground Farm in Newberg weekend before last.)

Dinner at sunset in the field at Gaining Ground Farm

And Portland is filled with people who are growing food and canning food and making jam and keeping chickens. Just the other day I met with my business attorney and when we finished the biz part we talked about the new vegetable garden he’s putting in his new house, complete with greenhouse to grow citrus. Oh, citrus. I’m so jealous. I may have to get a greenhouse.

Some days what I choose for each meal weighs on me, every time I eat that day. I imagine where this food began back up the chain, and I think about what will happen if I consume it. This is where I start to drive myself crazy. Most days, I’m relieved to say, I stick with my mantra: “Every little bit helps.” And most days, I’m also relieved to say, I realize that we are getting the bulk of our calories from Oregon and Washington.

This is all sounding so dramatic. I have to stand back and giggle at myself sometimes.

Saturday I had a major stress freak out about getting to the farmers market because we were completely out of fruits and veggies. Somehow it got to be 12:30 PM and the market closes at 1 PM sharp and shoes weren’t on and sippy cups were lost and everyone was melting down. And then it seems I overbought because it’s Monday night and I’ve got several days of food left, and I’m over budget, and I only needed food until Wednesday, when the farmers market down the street opens.

But then I’m beside myself because New Seasons didn’t have Oregon Jewel Wild Rice and the grocery people seemed to think they didn’t carry it anymore. When they told me this I had to remind myself this did not mean anyone would starve.

And then I take a deep breath and remind myself that this is a process. We are moving toward a goal, not failing. And that I don’t believe in being perfectionistic about this local eating project because I would just drive myself and everyone else crazy.

As you can see, I have a lot of inner dialogue. A lot.

My updates this week were few because I had a lot going on with work and we’ve had glorious weather every day after a pretty cold and soggy summer (and no, that’s not normal for Oregon). When the work was done I had to get away from this computer and get out. We planted greens in pots from starts I got at Garden Fever and we’ve been seeing where in the yard they’re happiest so we know where to put the seeds in the spring.

Even though I stressed and fretted a few times, we’re doing well with our local eating. I even got a bunch of corn and beans blanched and frozen for later, and a few more batches of plum jam made up. (And I seriously will get a recipe posted soon, I promise.)

Things I’m missing:-sparkling water (seriously jonesing for this now)

-starting to miss chocolate

Items I’m trying to source:

-local vinegar in quantities for pickling-affordable local goat cheddar cheese
-oats (they’re not usually classified as gluten-free because of contamination in the fields with wheat, but we eat some anyway)

What I’m loving about this/not loving about this:

-I’m loving that I made this reasonable and sustainable because we’re doing this and not really thinking that hard about it, but it also makes me feel guilty at times because we’re still eating non-local foods.
-That there is so much freakin’ good wine around here. Without the wine I may go insane.

1 comment:

Kale for Sale said...

I love this post. Thank you. I rotate between thinking eating local will save the world and holding myself back from lecturing people who I see eating bananas and then simply laughing when I return to realizing what a speck my kitchen is in the big picture of Google Earth. And yes, every little bit helps.