It should be the best of times for an eat local fan, but instead from faint effort and fall oddity, it’s been the worst of times. It has been a season of failures. I failed to deal best with a bounty of peppers and other foods for the future. In turn, forces even greater than my own faience limit my capacity to eat local later.
I had meant to do more. I piled up peppers with the idea that one fell day, I would process them all. I would singe the skins on the gas stove. I would peel and seed. I would pack some in oil, where I knew they would last many weeks in the fridge. I would pack others in bags for the freezer where I could use them for some later date in pasta or as a garnish for chicken. I probably also thought I’d pickle the jalepenos, so they to could last many months in my fridge. I had grand plans for eating peppers much longer, but I have failed. Look at that picture. Those and other peppers will now find their final home in the compost bin. I still have access to peppers, both sweet and hot, for a few more weeks, but the ability to put away many has passed.
I cannot do more. The bulk of the food we put away for winter eating goes in our attic, our “root cellar in the sky.” Up there it stays cold enough and moist enough to keep food usable for many weeks. In previous years we have stored in our attic: onions, potatoes, carrots, beets, sunchokes, rutabagas, radishes, apples, celery root, turnips, and a few other items I’m not thinking of right now. In previous years we would have started by this time of year buying up stocks of items, especially items we know will be harder to find over the winter. For instance, while there’s always local apples, the variety of local apples over time diminishes. This is especially true for great cooking apples like Northern Spy. So, we would buy in the fall. The problem, it has been way too warm to use our root cellar.
The only storage options to us to date has been our basement fridge and our basement “canning room.” In the former we keep foods that don’t really cellar well anyways. It is full now with broccoli and lettuces and cabbages and some summer potatoes. In the latter, the coldest part of the house now, we keep onions and garlic. The problem, I know from experience, is that the basement is just not cold enough for long term storage. We need to move those onions up one of these days. We just cannot do it while it is this warm.
I believe my Local Family eats exceedingly well from our CSA and other supplies of food. We have the basis to eat well all the time. Sometimes, however, we fail, whether our fault or not, to fully live out our eat local needs.