Thursday, August 26, 2010

All Things August

DAY 150

Hello! I have missed you! I am in the madness of August - the high season for college campus life as another academic year unfolds. I am not alone - hundreds of my colleagues are prepping for another year and I am lucky enough to play a role in that. Good luck to you all and to everyone putting a kid on a bus, sending a teenager to high school, or waving good bye to your college student...a bittersweet time!

For me, August means back-to-back travel to colleges around the country, very few days at home and living out of my suitcase for extended periods. Fun, in a weird "I am independent and can live out of my car when I have to" kind of way, tiring nonetheless. Grateful for all the work, for friends who let me stay at their houses and their Mom's houses along the way (you know who you are) and for being able to afford staying in decent hotels (Hotel Bethlehem!) - oh and a car that works and gas in the car and my family and my friends and my Blackberry and Facebook....

And THIS August, happy to be evolving into a Localvore! (as I snack on locally made granola and NY grown peaches - yum.)

It continues to be an interesting food month...I am secretly glad it is almost over! The usual stress of travel (getting myself out the door and into the car or onto the plane is a repeating miracle) along with packing all my own local food has taken my left eye twitch to a new level.

I will need a break from beets, potates and corn for a while and am looking forward to adding almonds, walnuts and black beans, rice, etc. back into the mix. It is definitely easier to hunt and gather at the store than picking, preparing, cooking and freezing at home. A lot of work to eat local - and worth it! I feel like my whole outlook on food has changed...a few learnings and new habits here:

1. I do not eat fast food anymore ("If it comes through your car window, it is not food" Michael Pollan in Food Rules). 'Nough said.

2. I read labels more than ever for source of many foods only list the distribution location - I mean, I don't need to know the Farmer's name (but how cool would that be?) - it would just be nice to know if it's been shipped 15 miles or 1500 miles. My favorite question to ask in the grocery store is "Where is this from?" Always an opening for a food comedian to respond with something smart like "the back room cooler" or "here" (pointing to the display case)...I appreciate the humor and it always opens a great conversation about food - so all good.

3. Healthy, fresh food can cost more, seems to rot more quickly and always tastes better (except for carrot top tea). Given that I am not buying new shoes, my frig is full of $4.99 per pound (or more!)chicken, equally pricey goat cheese and highly prized and expensive organic eggs. Flip side - a lot of fresh food costs less than processed food - like carrots. BTW "Baby Carrots" are big carrots shaped into "baby" sizes by machines. Oh.

4. Movie theatre popcorn is not local. Darn. Oh and it's really NOT butter. Sorry. Also Twizzlers are not local (or real) or Starburst. SweetTarts. Oh and SunChips - even though the bag is compostable - are not local. (Confession)

5. Butter is a dairy product but has no lactose - yay! I heart butter.

6. Bunnies can squeeze through tiny openings in garden fences. They like lettuce.

7. There are a lot of people working hard to eat locally! A nice network of smart people to meet who appreciate our farms. FOOD COMES FROM FARMS.

So much more to month is not enough! I may repeat this challenge in the winter - hope I love to eat root vegetables - a lot. Should really freeze some more peaches...and make a lot more pesto!

Anyway, back on track with the blog - more to come tomorrow...promise. I know your day cannot start without my blog, so rest easy...

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Monday, August 9, 2010

Protein Rules

DAY 133

I'm back! A busy food week along with a significant road trip to the Middle of Nowhere (lovely but no internet access) put me behind by 6 days! Perhaps you thought I was out purchasing goats and chickens?

Lots to report...first, too many vegetables are not necessarily a good thing...I struggled this week in my personal veggie is really not working for me! Less than a week into it and I am having nightmares about eating beets - not OK.

I really need to find an eating balance with a little less fiber and a little more protein. My wise and cool friend Catherine has lived through a vegetarian to omnivore (plant and animal eater) journey and has experienced the NEED for protein. She and her family eat very healthy, local food and she has researched supplements, vitamins, nutrition and how it all relates - thanks Cat!

I know that my protein need is real - and very related to my thyroid problem...don't worry - I am not about to share ALL my health issues with what my Dad used to call an "organ recital" - get it? haha.

So, I went to Lori's Natural Foods, Palmer's Meat Market, and the Public Market all in my town - but no chicken from NY! Normally, if I were not doing the "Made in NY" thing - I could eat almonds, black beans and chick peas for protein, but this month I need to add the chicken...Being a Veg at heart, it grosses me out to prepare it but I will block it out for this month...There is a farm store in Victor, NY (Health and Harmony) that raises organic, free-range, happy chickens - but I would have to buy the whole chicken and I really cannot bring myself to do it. wonderful people and their store looks great - I will check it out with a visit ASAP...

Somehow it is less animal looking when it comes as a chicken breast vs not still looking like a CHICKEN. Deep. I compromised and bought some happy chicken at the Public Market from Fare Game (thanks Jerry and Gary!) Their chicken is from Canada, eh.

The other challenge is to really stick to the NY food especially when I am craving a Coke (not real food bottled in Atlanta)...more on that tomorrow.

I will leave you with these tips from my super smart friend Shelby - one of my "Locavore" Idols!

* Plan for at least 5 days a week of local foods. Give yourself credit for doing this 5 times more than most Americans and let yourself off the hook for your two busiest days.

* Remember that small and regional businesses need your help. Buying locally produced products (like bread) which use flour from other states is STILL way better than buying bread made in other states and shipped to you.

* This will get easier as your freezer gets stocked and you can (if you plan to) some tomatoes, peaches, pears, etc.

* Remember you can put zucchini in almost everything.

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

Monday, August 2, 2010

Learning Curve

DAY 126

I underestimated how big of a change this month of NY foods is going to be! I thought I was all set to go but turns out I have be very deliberate about prep and follow through. Having said this after making pesto at 2 in the morning because I picked it and did not want to waste it. "Planning Ahead" is going to Habit Number One in a series - I can tell you that right now.

Found out today that although Wegman's (Do I mention them enough? They should be my blog sponsor!) makes most of their own bread, the flour comes from Idaho - what? NY produces flour here somewhere but not in a large enough quantities to be cost effective - therefore Idaho wins the Flour Derby...bummer! Not that there's anything wrong with Idaho! Hmmmm. I will also need to decide how far I want to go with food that has all NY INGREDIENTS....Will check out out Lori's Natural Foods ASAP and get some ideas...

So anyway, I packed my food for several days - I really have no idea how much that really is - hope it lasts me! I am in dire need of many more reusable containers...will have to look around at yard sales for "new" ones. I am a little creeped out by buying used food containers.

More later as I get reactions from bringing containers of a whole lotta vegetables...could be weird (fun!) on a lot of levels - stay tuned!

Have a Nothing New Day - Kristin

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I Appreciate Peas

DAY 125

After my huge score at the Public Market yesterday, I had to do some prep to make it all more edible :) and spent almost three hours cutting, chopping, boiling and blanching my food for the week. My pending road trip will be interesting and I am wondering how it will go when I bring ALL my own food...

As I am working to get my food life in order for the challenge this month, the process of setting my boundaries has also begun. I have decided to "allow" certain luxuries as did my now Local Food Idol, author Barbara Kingsolver. Most known for her novels ("The Poisonwood Bible" and "Prodigal Summer" to name a few), her book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" chronicles a year of "deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbors, drank the water and breathed the air." Barbara (we are on a first name basis now, lol) and her family lived off their own home grown food or food produced only in the vicininty fo their farm in VA. Very inspirational...I highly recommend this read! More info on her website...

They did allow coffee, olive oil and a few other luxuries, so I will follow suit:

1. Tea - need some caffeine!

2. Olive Oil - I may switch back to butter bc even though butter is a dairy product and I am lactose intolerant, I learned that butter does not have lactose - yay! And I am sure I can get some NY butta.

3. Spices - Especially, pepper, salt, cinnamon...

4. Balsamic vinegar - but maybe I can find cider vinegar made in NY

5. Maybe almonds, walnuts and pecans (oh my) - I'll see how it goes since I am a "fishitarian" working toward vegetarian, I want to be sure I get enough protein - FYI, potatoes have 3g of protein - that's great news :)

6. Maybe rice - see above, maybe I can get some wild rice grown in NY...if I lived in MN, I'd be all set!

I was most excited by the number of peas I found in my garden...check out my Facebook Page for a stunning photo :) In spite of planting my peas way too late, there have been a few pods - with any where from 1-4 peas inside. I had no idea on the timing thing never mind that peas grow on a vine and need a trellis of some sort to keep them organized and off the ground - who knew? The pods yielded only 123 peas (approx 1/4 cup) and it took me almost 10 minutes to shell...I will now look at a bag of frozen peas in a whole new light! The saying, "two peas in a pod" has new relevance for me as well...

The other thing I decided to do to segue into this challenge is to finish up some of the non-NY foods I had in my frig and then figure out an alternative...almond milk, avocado, grape juice...maybe I can find some kind of goats milk here - we have some natural food stores and a co-op or two...

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin