I have joined a challenge. The Local Bite Challenge with a group of people on Facebook. If any of you “Local Bite Challengers” are reading this, hello to you!
I love that in this challenge everyone’s definition of “local” can be their own as well as their own parameters on how to implement, how long to participate, how or if you budget and the biggie…what will you allow for exceptions? Although everyone is setting out on their own way of doing this, the bottom line is that we will all learn from each other and we will all be helping each other toward a common and important goal and how cool is that?
I thought I would make today’s post a very brief look back at how we personally got to the place we are at now.
When we began in December of 2012 it was to raise a few Highland Cattle for beef. About then I started working for myself and realized I would have the flexibility to put time into living more sustainably and knowing our food. We took the plunge and raised two heritage breed feeder pigs, organically, (but not certified), and put 6 chickens in the freezer, had a new calf arrive, and purchased another cow with calf, and a bull. We will have our first steer slaughtered this summer, have fresh eggs daily, and a freezer full of pastured pork. Until we have the beef our variety has not been huge but we do just fine eating what we have and cook creatively to avoid boredom. I froze huge amounts of fruits and vegetables, and re-learned how to can. Between all of that and all the food I dried last year I did not have to buy any produce at the grocery store this year, and yes, we do eat fruit:) It was limited to strawberries, raspberries, cherries, rhubarb, and peaches which didn’t feel limited to me at all. So this is all to say for us local is really local, as we raised almost everything we ate this Winter and so far this Spring. I learned to make pasta (which I need to improve at) and all of our breads, buns, corn chips, crackers, and pretzels, although, the last few don’t get baked as often as I’d like. However, even this was a new way of thinking to appreciate those treats when we have them rather than expecting them to be around all the time. Eating seasonally starting making so much sense. I had come to expect to eat the same fruits and vegetables year round, often without it mattering how many miles they had traveled or that they were loaded in the truck before they had opportunity to even ripen. I have instead found a rhythm to the seasons. We enjoyed the arrival of lettuces, radishes, beans, and broccoli in the summer, and then the appearance of beautiful red strawberries followed later by fresh tomatoes in mid July and throughout the hot days of September. As it got really cold there were cabbages and squashes and pumpkins. So yes, we didn’t eat lettuce this winter or one fresh tomato, instead we ate the meats we raised, and the fruits and vegetables we put up that were raised by us and our neighbor (we do trades). It’s been an amazing almost year and a half. We are now approaching Spring, this time still newbies, but not as new as last year. Soon the brooder will be set up, the chicks will arrive, the feeder pigs will be picked up in May, and I have my seeds picked out and my starter plants started. The rhythm of the seasons continues and I am ready for all the fresh garden goodness.
As I begin to preserve food this year I will do some things differently. I now know just how much bbq sauce, ketchup and tomato sauce we need. I also know that no one needs as many pickles as I made last year. I learned that some things I canned, I should have frozen, and some things I should have planted more of etc. It will be exciting to go into this years food growing season having a better idea of what we need and like.
So my parameters? Local is pretty local for us, and I feel lucky that we have the space and opportunity to do this. Apart, from my exception list, local is a few miles. Clearly though my exception list does have things that go well beyond that. Am I involving budget in this? Not really, by eating mostly our own food, our budget has changed dramatically, I consider it more a way of life than a budget really. How long do I want to participate? A lifetime:)
I do have exceptions and I will rethink some of these due to this challenge. What are my exceptions?
toilet paper, garbage bags, coffee, beer, rum and coke, flour (although ours is locally grown and milled), corn flour, sugar, mayonnaise, yeast, milk, cheese, and yogurt. We don’t have a dairy cow, or should I say I am not wrestling a highland with horns into a head gate daily. Of course there are random items that do get purchased when needed like laundry detergent, dish soap, shampoo etc.
Next on the agenda… Mead, and learning to make yogurt and cheese. Now if I could just get our “trading neighbor” to get a dairy cow:)
So glad I found the challenge, I’m looking forward to new ideas and new learning!