Sunday, August 31, 2008

OLS Week 13: Oops!

I had perfect attendance in the One Local Summer Challenge until the very last week. I ate several meals of local foods, but didn't get around to blogging any of them -- most were uninteresting since they were dishes I'd already described.

Oh well, this gives me a chance to reflect on what I've learned.

New ways of cooking. I told someone recently that instead of asking "What's for dinner?" we've learned to ask "What needs to be eaten?" Besides a new way of menu planning, that also implies being a much more flexible cook. Eggplant in salsa was invented on the fly--we've had it once since and it's likely to appear several more times in our meals before my garden and the CSA box run out of eggplants, tomatoes, and jalapenos.

New foods and new recipes. Edamame, delicata squash, blackberries, beets, purslane, sunflower shoots, soft goat cheeses, zucchini prepared raw in a slaw, cantaloupe sorbet, potato salad from tiny potatoes -- and bigger ones later in the season.

New experiences. Grinding flour at home, freezing our own sorbets and ice cream, working with sourdough starter, growing vegetables, subscribing to a CSA, experiencing the sensual pleasures of several different Farmers Markets.

An old problem. Or a couple of them. Sometimes, I can be a perfectionistic to the point that if it can't be perfect, it might as well not happen at all. Sometimes, particularly in July and August, my brain cells deactivate in the presence of high mold and pollen counts. The two together meant that there were times in the last couple of months where I had the irrational mindset of "if I can't eat local, I might as well eat junk."

My transition to all natural foods happened last fall and winter. The local foods were an addition in the spring. What shocked me about suddenly consuming items from convenience stores and fast food restaurants this summer was how much garbage it generated. I realized that my choice to eat natural foods was a big leap in both my health and the health of the environment. The choice to eat many local foods, while a significant contributor to both health and environment, is not the most important thing for me -- it's a good addition on top of a strong foundation of eating natural foods.

So, I will continue eating local by enjoying Farmers Markets, resubscribing to my CSA, and establishing a larger vegetable garden. But I probably won't be joining any more local food challenges for awhile. I need to focus on my foundation of natural foods.

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