Staying a Locavore

February 22, 2013 at 11:30 am

My morning food activities: drink coffee, eat almonds, take pictures of apples I purchased last night. That’s how this locavore rolls. He may not survive without his twelve ounce bag from Sumatra, but he wants you to know his apples come from Michigan.

The six pounds of apples I bought this week were the first Michigan apples I’ve bought in weeks, maybe months. If you know anything about our local agriculture, you know that last year’s bout of climate change had awful effects on local fruit. Freakishly warm early weather caused trees to bloom too soon, and then an un-wanted late season frost made the trees rue their decision. Chicago area farmer’s markets had very little orchard fruit from Michigan farms. What may have gone less noticed is that commercial outlets for Michigan fruit have also been depleted. The Local Family relied on Michigan apples from Caputo’s, Costco and all sorts of places to make it through the winter. The fruit we have eaten this winter has been almost all citrus and bananas, with the occasional pomegranate splurge–I should also add (confess) that there were some California persimmons, but since they tasted like winter tomatoes I don’t think they truly count.

That’s the thing. We’re gonna eat oranges. We’re gonna eat almonds. We’re not gonna eat Washington apples. On one hand, I can tell that I really do believe that most of the Washington apples in the markets taste awful.  I’m sure there’s great Washington apples out there (and just for the record, maybe the best apples I ever ate came from California), but those wax coated things in the stores, they’re not it. Still, we don’t do it just for the taste. To us, we want to make our idea of eating local meaningful. You cannot have meaning if you just eat what you can. We really, almost always, abide by our rule that if it grows here, we only eat it from here.

The other place that gets us is in lettuce. We like salad as much as anyone else. We struggle all winter looking for (and finding) locally grown lettuces, from hoops or hydro. I guess if we could never find it, we’d perhaps be more lax. Same thing with apples. We could live with this winter’s deficit of apples. If you look carefully my pic you see we rectified that this week. At Dominick’s of all places (where the produce generally sucks). It’s good to stay a locavore.