When Does the Challenge Start
I threw my hat into the Eat Local Challenge over three years ago. Within a few days, I stated out one of my fundamental principles: today the challenge’s easy, come back and ask me in a few months. Some of you may be rolling off the Green City Market’s Localvore Challenge. I ask, has your challenge even begun? Yesterday, I advised you not to worry about tomorrow. Today, I want to say, at least starting thinking about it.
As Melissa and I covered in our feature last week, there are several methods to preserve and store food. Now, one of these methods requires freezer space, and another method requires some kitchen commitment (canning). What if you have neither. Besides, even if you can and freeze and dry and make the most delicious sauerkraut ever, you don’t have to do all of that. You can start by stocking up on some of the most basics. Nothing keeps easier than winter squashes. We actually have one from last year that we never got around to eating, that at least from the outside, looks re markedly edible. Apples and potatoes fall into the easy store category; just make sure you get varieties meant for storage. Just today, Chad Nichols was telling me about the limited shelf life of McIntosh apples. Speaking of Chad and his family’s Nichol’s Farm, they have now, tomatoes specifically grown for keeping. A little newspaper, a dry dark room, and more than decent, local tomatoes can be yours several weeks from now. Start with the easy stuff.
There are fruits and veg easy to put-away. There are also things you really need to put away. The best laid efforts to eat local can fall away when you find yourself out of onions or garlic. Yes, the winter diet is one of abbreviation and improvisation. Onions do become a vegetable and potatoes a necessity, but whatever is cooked, the basics are needed. With Cassie’s Green Grocer and Robin’s Winter Markets and Irv and Shelly, things are not quite as desperate as they have been in the Chicago area. Still, you may find some needed garlic for your pasta sauce with no where to turn. Or not. Since garlic stores so well and so easily, why not get as much as you can now. Remember with the garlic and onions you need for cooking, you are buying not just for the rest of fall, all of winter, but well into spring. It’s only around the end of May that the earliest green garlic and green onions will appear. Don’t let your eat local challenge lapse because of a recipe need.
Food preservation and storage require some work and effort. This is America. Let’s put off the hard stuff for at least another day. Start doing the easy storage; that and what is absolutely necessary.