Being the minister in our family, it is no surprise that I do not have much trouble believing in things. Whenever I hear a good idea or a clever ad or a captivating story, my tendency is, more often than not, to believe it. It's not because I'm gullible (though my beloved might disagree....actually he would say that I'm a "victim of advertising."), but just that I have an easy time having faith in things.
So it makes sense that when I recently read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, that I bought in, hook line and sinker. The book chronicles Kingsolver's attempt to spend one year eating almost exclusively things that were grown or raised within 100 miles of her home. It weaves together her tales of small-scale farming, chicken raising and bread baking with sobering commentary on what she would call the American "food culture." The main conclusion is that what most of us are eating isn't good for us or the earth and that a return to local, sustainably produced goods is a necessary step to save the earth and our waistlines. To me, it sounded like the gospel. And so it was that I boarded the localvore bandwagon and set off to save the world and a few pounds through local eating.
I decided that from now on I would only buy local, sustainably produced goods, no exceptions. I researched CSAs: regular farm, meat CSAs, fish CSAs and flower CSAs. I even researched GRAIN CSAs and dreamt about baking all of our own bread. I tried raw milk. I signed up for cheesemaking class. I looked online for canning manuals. I insisted that we plant a window herb garden. I proclaimed that I was ready to become a farmer.
Now, unfortunately for me and for Mr.LOILI, I had this literature-induced epiphany in the middle of March. In New England. And do you know, dear readers, what is grown locally in March in New England? Not a damn thing.Now I should admit that when I first tried to sell Mr. LOILI on this new lifestyle, his response was "What kind of local food are you going to eat in the winter in New England?" But instead of taking his suggestion into consideration, I received it as I usually do: with a childish expression of deep annoyance at his overly rational thinking and inability to drink the koolaide of my ultra-liberal, sometimes mercurial passions. "DON'T YOU THINK IT'S IMPORTANT THAT WE NOT RUIN THE ENTIRE WORLD?!??!??!" I bellowed, "DON'T YOU THINK WE SHOULDN'T WASTE GAS SHIPPING STUFF ALL OVER THE DAMN WORLD, KILLING THIRD WORLD ECONOMIES AND POLLUTING THE EARTH JUST SO WE CAN EAT WHATEVER WE WANT?!??!?" I then subjected him to listening to sections of the AVM book on tape, at which point, I think he went back to reading Consumer Reports magazine, hoping it would blow over.
But it did not. The next evening, when we had nothing for dinner in the house, I said, "Let's go to the store to get something." (Seeminly innocuous invitation.) "Okay," he says." "But" (now I've got him), "it is really, really, really, REALLY important to me that we only buy local ingredients." I said this with a specific tone that I sometimes use which means: If we don't do this, I will probably die, because you will be rejecting the one thing that is most important to me in the world. Or at least the one thing that is most important to me in the world today. I think Mr. LIOLI has learned how to identify this tone by now, because his response was a cautious: "Okay, but you should know, there might not be too much." Yeah right, I thought.
Well, needless to say, it was an exhausting 30 minutes. The Mr. had been right. NOTHING was local. In fact, when I asked the produce clerk if there was any local produce to be had he just stared at me blankly and then after a long pause, said, "From here?......It's winter....." and then continued stacking Brazilian peppers and Israeli tomatoes in the bin with a mystified intensity. Damn. We went home disappointed with a pizza crust from Connecticut, a $17/pound chunk of mozzarella from Vermont (is Vermont more than 100 miles away? Must google that) and the only can of pizza sauce in the store that wasn't made in Italy. Maybe we'd wait a few more months.
All this is to say that I am particularly excited this year that SUMMER IS HERE! This week we made our first trips to the farmers markets and my dream was realized. On the menu this week:
Spinach and Asparagus Quiche (w/ local fresh eggs and local, organic asparagus and spinach)
Local and Sustainably Produced Italian Hot Sausage with a side of sauteed Kale
BBQed Shrimp with Mint Pesto and Orzo SaladMozzarella and Basil Panini with Fresh, Homemade PestoLocal, Small-Batch Ice-Cream with Fresh, Local Strawberries
I owe a major debt of gratitude to Mr.LIOLI for putting up with this tomfoolery and put a shout-out to anyone who has any canning advice for me. It's going to be a great summer!
Here's a picture of our quiche (first one ever...Mr.LIOLI was responsible for the crust which was about 78% butter and PERFECTLY cooked...hey, didn't I say this was supposed to be healthy?):
And here's a pic of the mojitos we made with the truckload of fresh mint we bought (Hint: We've tried many recipes for mojitos and been sorely disappointed. But these were great. The trick: double the mint, lime and rum. Yumo! I LOVE localvorianism.)
And some fresh flowers from a local farmer. (I came home delighted and announced, "I also got these beautiful LOCAL dahlias," to which, the beloved responded, "That great. They're really beautiful, except that those are peonies.")