In case you didn’t know, I’m in the process of a spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional experiment: being a locavore for lent in Boston (that’s winter time people). One of my friends asked me how it’s going, and I said, “Well, you learn pretty quick, because you get hungry.”
The rules I’ve created for myself so far are:
- Buy local food. (That means it’s ok to consume non-local, as long as I didn’t buy it.) I will write a blog about what local food is (for me) soon.
- If not local, then a local seller (or as local as possible), fair trade, and organic (i.e. coffee, coconut oil, chocolate, olive oil, spices, vanilla, etc etc.). If I find something that is all of those things, I buy it, everyone wins. AT LEAST fair trade.
- It being Sunday, do I break fast (i.e. still follow the rules above)? I do not know. I think yes in that I’m not going to go do “normal” grocery shopping, but I might go out to eat (GASP!).
Now, what does a locavore do in Boston in the winter with no car? What is available, and how do you get it?
Get a zip car. Walk a lot. Take the T. Be nice to your friends with cars. Carry a heavy duty backback and tots for food.
Local is difficult in grocery stores. I noted this in my woe to Trader Joe’s post. You can find things that are produced in Massachusetts (pasta, tortillas, salsa, margarita mix, bread, sauce, a lot of stuff), but likely not sourced in Mass. For me, I try to avoid too much of this kind of stuff, but really, it’s your personal preference. That stuff gets expensive quick (c.f. Whole Foods). But, so far nothing has been disappointing. Though lack of disappointment might be due to desperation… That’s why you go to a farmer’s market.
Where are the winter farmer’s markets?
So far, Somerville’s winter market is the best I’ve been to, but it is MADNESS. Cambridge is pretty good, cheap, has what need. Brookline is closest to me. I’ve heard JP has a good one too (but the season is over in Feb). Wherever you live, there is probably a small winter market near you, but it might be worth the trek to Somerville for the most variety. What is variety? Multiple choices for meat, eggs, cheese, bread, and produce. What do I get at the markets?
Local meat is actually really easy to get a hold of. Again, I’m a snob, and I want my meat to be happy grass-fed cows. In the winter, some farms have to substitute with hay. Understandable. Most farmer’s market will have meat. It’s expensive, but so far for me, WORTH IT.
Also, super easy to find local. Most of the farms selling at the farmer’s market are free range, but not all are organic (meaning they don’t get organic feed). Organic, honestly, doesn’t matter that much to me, and I don’t like paying $8 a dozen. Five bucks is my personal max, and even that’s high. New Hampshire local eggs are $4. Dudes and Dudettes, find a friend with some chickens! Eggs shouldn’t be so EGGspensive. Yuk yuk.
As a New England locavore, and the lack of produce available, expect to eat A LOT of eggs, meat, cheese, and dairy. Ice cream is easy to make local and healthy-ish (local milk, cream, or butter, eggs, and honey or maple. Bam. Ice cream for survival.)
Potatoes. Sweet potatoes. Lots and lots of roots. Carrots. Parsnips. Squash is over by January. Beets. Sunchokes. Celeriac. Onions (thank you Jesus!). Turnips. Daikon radishes (pretty delish). If you’re lucky, GARLIC. You have to learn how to eat this stuff: roasted, soup, boiled, fried, in quiche… That’s about it. Search Pinterest for pretty food, and cook it!
Local milk, cheese, and cream are easy to find. Local grass-fed milk and cheese are relatively easy to find. Local grass-fed butter and cream are virtually impossible to find. The closest I have found is Nature by Nature from Lancaster County, PA. Yikes. It’s closer than Ireland. Raw milk you can only buy on the farm in Massachusetts. Any other raw/grass-fed dairy you want to get your hands on you have to go to New Hampshire (see transportation). And it’s all ridiculously EXPENSIVE. Seriously, I just made half a pound of butter for $18. The rest of the milk may or may not become cheese, and may or may not kill me.
Sweet Stuff: ICE CREAM RECIPE
Honey and maple abound in New England! Eat it all to your hearts content!
Winter apples! Yeehaw!!! Make ice cream!
- 14T of some mixture of butter (GRASSFED), coconut oil, milk, cream (e.g. 8T butter, 6T coconut oil is what I like).
- 4 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 5T of sweetener (I like honey and/or maple)
- Some vanilla (if you have it, fair trade you fool!)
- 10 drops of apple cidar vinegar
- “Local” Bourbon? Sure, pour some in!
- Leftover peanut butter from before you were a locavore? Yes please.
- Coco Powder? Chocolate, yes.
- Blend, ice cream maker, freezer, and done.
So you have meat, eggs, produce, dairy, and ice cream, what more do you need? Bread/baked goods you can get from local sellers, but really isn’t going to be local ingredients. So, if you’re desperate, grab some at the market and enjoy, but personally, I avoid it. Grab flour from a local mill if you can find it (it does exist), and make your own bread.
Being a locavore really involves figuring out how to make your own stuff. There is a high cool factor for my homemade butter, but also a dumb factor it being $18. Good food doesn’t have to take a lot of ingredients or a lot of time to make or a lot of money. So, my journey to find a good source of butter continues…
I hope that was a helpful overview of how to do this in winter, and now I understand why Boston Locavores disbanded three years ago…