Monday, September 24, 2007

Yummilicious - and on the way to being even more so

I love food. Everything about it is exciting to me - it's origin, where it comes from, how it grows, the different ways it can be prepared, preserved and presented. One of my favorite places to shop is the grocery store, and I beeline for any store selling kitchen or food related products. I'm a weekly (and often more often) shopper at the farmer's market, and I buy my apples and pumpkins from a farm or orchard (not a parking lot stand). I'm so excited to serve food grown in my garden. I've even found great local wine!

Previous to this year I didn't give much thought to where my food was coming from. I lived in consumeristic bliss, happily making the bulk of my food purchases from the local Meijer, preparing my meals with little concern for the seasonality of my food.

I'm not sure where my transformation started. Maybe it was Fast Food Nation. It progressed to the Omnivorous Dilemma, and Animal Vegetable Miracle. It moved to Local Harvest, Fair Food Matters and Eat Local. And somewhere along the line, my feelings about food and concern for where it comes from started to change.

My first real personal change concerned the origin of my meat products. I'm an animal lover, a foster "mother" and a often guilty feeling omnivore. (I've tried vegetarianism but I love a good bologenese sauce way too much). So if I can't change my taste at least I can change where and how I get my meat. I stopped buying meat from the grocery store and started making my purchases from a local butcher, Quality Meats. I lost my squeamishness for venison and started adding it to more and more recipes. Recently I located an organic farm offering a meat csa and I'm currently plotting my purchases to store in my freezer.

Next I reconsidered my veggie choices. With the Farmer's Market open 3 days/week I've been really successful in limiting most of my vegetables to locally grown, but I've been troubled about my options for the winter, and still getting my out of range produce (i.e. lemons) from my local megamart. I was so excited to learn there are several local growers offering winter csas.

I'm really interested in finding more sources for local food. I'm not sure I could ever limit myself to living totally local - there are some things I just couldn't give up. Recently I read somewhere that even those who eat local allow themselves 12 items outside their food shed they just can't live without. So I started thinking - what couldn't I give up? Let's see..
1. Real Parmesan cheese (and maybe all cheese in general. I did find a local producer of ricotta cheese, and keep perusing the how to make cheese website - which may soon be another blog!)
2. Olive oil
3. Cocoa power/chocolate
4. Vanilla
5. Flour
6. Spices (can I make this one entry?)
7. Salt
8. Milk/soymilk (though I'm doing some research on local options)
9. Rice/cornmeal/couscous
(I'm actually surprised to find that at this point it's getting hard to think of other things I couldn't live without or find a local source for.)
10. Coffee
11. Soda
12. Fish

Update: I stopped at Centre Street Market today and found a flyer for a local cheese producer, which led me to a website listing several local producers. I'll continue to post my food finds in my blogroll for those of you interesting in pursuing other food options as well.


Holly Bee said...

Hey Jen! I would love to know who is doing winter csa's! is a great resource for finding all sorts of local goodies including meat and wine.

Have you tried Stubby's in Vicksburg?
They are a local butcher/smokehouse.

Or Peterson and Sons Winery?

Also nearby is Contessa Wine Cellars (it's actually a Peterson-son)

Maybe we should go on a food tour of Michigan! We'd need a driver...

Jen said...

Blue Dog Greens is doing a winter CSA. I will bring the flyer with me on Thursday if you want to check it out. I've never been to Stubby's but I did hear about it; though a butcher named Stubby kind of freaks me out a bit. I've driven by Peterson and Son's Winery a zillion times (I used to live in Climax). I'm all for any food and wine tours!

Leesa L. Finley said...

I have a queston about Stubby's. My girlfriend went back home (Vicksburg) for the holidays and brought back some beef jerky from Stubby's. It is the best my husband has ever had and he wants to know if there is a website for them. I couldn't find one so I thought I would ask you two after I found your blog.