Monday, November 16, 2009

Project Locavore: Step One


The Morningside Farmers Market sets up every Saturday, rain or shine, in the parking lot across from Alon's (in front of Teuscher Chocolates...yumm!). It's beautiful, and unlike a lot of farmers markets, it's open year-round. This past Saturday I went for the first time, which absolutely disgusts me since I live about 2 miles away. Why haven't I been there before? I have no idea. Seriously, I was able to walk there in less than half an hour. It's mostly laziness I suppose. I do love to sleep in on Saturdays.

Here's what I bought:
*2 lovely Berkshire pork chops
*1 giant bunch kale
*1/2 lb sunchokes
*1 winter squash
*1 1/2 heads cauliflower
*2 watermelon radishes

Total cost for all of this wonderful food: $19. And this is what we had for dinner (this is one person's serving):


In case you're unable to tell, the plate above includes:

*1 pan-seared pork chop with apples and onions
*roasted cauliflower and squash
*sauteed kale and dandelion with pine nuts
*roasted sunchokes
*homemade rye

The majority of that dinner came from the farmers market, the exceptions being: olive oil, 1 onion, 1 green apple, pine nuts, dandelion greens, and rye bread (made earlier in the week). Not too shabby, right? It was quite tasty, and we even had leftovers.

Now, time to get down to business. Our household has decided (okay, I decided and poor Charlie is very sweetly going along with my plan) to try a year of living locally. "What does this mean?" you may ask. Well, we're still pounding out the fine points, but here are the main ideas. We're going to attempt to buy at least 80% of our food locally for a full year. We'll begin in earnest this March (when the growing season begins). Until then there's plenty to do. I've been researching local farms, dairies, mills, and such. Fruit and vegetables should be no problem. Local meat, it turns out, is also easy to find. We've already joined a meat CSA -- more on that soon. There's a dairy about 50 miles away that sells milk in a nearby specialty food shop, and I think I've found a mill where we can buy whole wheat flour and grits.

And now for the do-withouts. Obviously, no sugar is grown within 100 miles of Atlanta. This means we'll either have to make a small allowance for sugar, or we'll learn to use honey as our only sweetener. I'm leaning toward honey as it is readily available and a much healthier choice than processed sugar. There are a number of spices that aren't grown near us. We'll have to make some decisions about which we'll continue purchasing even though they aren't local (salt, for example) and which we'll give up (probably cinnamon, nutmeg, and the other lovely holiday baking spices). We are not giving up coffee, but we are looking for a local roaster. Oils are tricky. Olive oil is (maybe) out, but I think we'll be able to get local peanut oil and perhaps a little sesame? Much more research is necessary, clearly.

There will be some exceptions that make up the 20% of non-local products. We'll need yeast for bread baking, and I don't think we can find that locally. I'm also looking into making some cheeses, and the cultures and rennets for those must be ordered. Charlie makes wonderful pizzas, and he needs semolina flour for the dough. I don't think that's available locally (the closest I've found is about 250 miles away), and I'm not asking him to give that up so we'll most likely continue purchasing a brand grown in Michigan.

There's much more to say about this project, but it will have to wait for another day. I leave you with pictures of the gorgeous, tasty watermelon radishes I picked up on Saturday. We ate them hinly sliced on rye bread with a little cream cheese and a sprinkling of sea salt. Delicious.




  1. Missed you, all my friends were waiting anxiously for your inspiration to inspire us!!! Are you coming home for Thanksgiving? Hope so and will see you then!! Love, Leslie

  2. how amazing are sunchokes? i looks for them like i look for a lost child!

  3. Good luck on your project! It's ambitious but I bet you will learn a lot. Fortunately in a warm climate like Atlanta you'll have more months per year of fresh local produce.

    You raise an interesting issue with your pantry staples like oil, sugar yeast, coffee, etc. It's intriguing to think about how far this could go (e.g., should you also source your kitchen tools and your pots and pans locally?) It's fun to think about.

    Casual Kitchen

  4. it looks delicious!I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.


  5. As far as yeast, start a sourdough starter :) Some have a small amount of yeast to start it, but with regular feeding, it can work out. :)