The Local Family Is Not Just Me

August 30, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Rob Gardner

The Local Family is not just me.  Rather, I should say, there is more to the Local Family.  I just represent us in bytes.  Really, from assessing the palatability of ground cherries (not very) to tracking down winter markets (not always easy), the Local Family has been a family enterprise. In fact, as I have oft mentioned, my younger daughter feels she started our eat local adventure when sh brokered the initial meeting between the Family and Farmer Vicki.  I have tried to share this pages with the rest of the Local Family. I outed my wife as to Cook Book Addict with the idea that she would share her passion with the Beet readers.  My older daughter took her first byline on the Oak Park River Forest Trapeze last semester.  I wonder if she thinks our audience not large enough.  Instead, today, we get a post by my younger daughter.

I found this piece open on my computer last night.  It was the first draft of her first paper for her first high school honors English class.  She was asked to write on something meaningful to her.  She gave me permission to share with you all.  Except for a bit of punctuation clean-up, this is what she said.

Road Trips

I love to travel, but I’ve never been out of North America. In fact, I haven’t even been out of the continental US. My claim to fame is that I’ve been to each state in the Midwest. That’s to mean Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Moreover, I drove to each one. For me, holiday after holiday is spent driving the countryside, looking for the tiny farm stand or local brewery. Taking road trips is a staple in the life of my family. Road trips aid in my families attempt to eat local, make great memories, and bring my family closer. When I think of important to me, I think traveling, and when I think travelling, I think road trip!
I am a localvore. For those of you who don’t know the word, it means a person who eats primarily local food. Different people define local as different things, but when my family says we eat local, it means we eat 90-95% of our diet from the states listed above, excluding Ohio and Minnesota. And pretty much our whole lives revolve around local food. This includes our trips. When we visit Wisconsin (on just about a bi-monthly basis), it’s not about which area we’re going to, or what fun places we should go to but instead where we should eat. Every trip is accompanied by at least one farmers market.

One year, we drove to Kentucky for Thanksgiving. That year/trip sticks out in my mind because it was the first Thanksgiving not spent at a relative’s house. I’m a person very stuck on tradition, and I wanted a classic meal, turkey and stuffing, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce. Well, my dad found a restaurant in Louisville that specialized in local food and was convinced we needed to go there on Thanksgiving night. When he told us the menu, something extravagant and fancy, I got very mad. I wanted cranberry sauce and this fancy restaurant had none. My dad went on to explain that instead they were serving cranberry mostarda and that I would like it. I was in fourth grade so the word mostarda sounded gross to me. I pouted and that was the year I spent lunch on Thanksgiving in a barn having my local classic Thanksgiving meal served on the farm it was grown. And to this day, my parents threaten cranberry chutney every November. I will always think fondly, however much I may complain, about the local places I’m dragged on my road trips.

My first day of kindergarten; the day I learned I wouldn’t have to wear my brace anymore; the 7th grade Springfield trip; my bat mitzvah; all of these are memories that will forever stick out in my mind. However, so will the trips I’ve taken. They year I was in 2nd grade we went on two trips. The first was to California. All I have are vague memories of what we did and where we went. We also drove to Springfield. We drove on Route 66 and while apparently that’s some fun further down the road, it’s a complete snore when you’re going from Chicago to Springfield. Nevertheless, I remember that trip a lot better. I remember the old gas station we found on the side of a country road. I remember the horseshoes and the museums. Road trips create such memories for me. When we drive somewhere, it’s not just, where we go, or what we do when we’re there, it’s the memories of all we do on our way there.

I like to think my family is closer than most. We do a lot together, and I can tell anyone of them (sister, mom, or dad) anything I need help with. Road trips are part of the reason we’re so close. Last summer, we drove to Pittsburgh. About a month before our fancy GPS had been stolen, so my grandparents lent us theirs. They have an older GPS that didn’t really work in Pittsburgh. Therefore, when we tried to use it to find a restaurant in the South Side of Pittsburgh, it gave us the wackiest directions. It took us to the top of a high cliff, in a bunch of circle, so on and so forth. At one point, it told us to turn right and before we’d moved two feet, it was “recalculating”. We ended up asking directions from an old guy with no teeth and an monitoring anklet. But, my family is the ones who joke around about this stuff. We’re the one’s who sing along to Alice’s Restaurant after they played it nonstop in Kentucky. And, this makes us extra-close, something very important to me.

Really, the important thing to me is my family, the time we spend together and the food we eat together. But, road trips are important because they’re the abnormal way we stay so close. Road trips define my family. They assist in out quest to eat local, create memories, and reinforce my family bond. Road trips are important because road trips are a huge part of my life.