Friday, September 4, 2009

Locavore 100-Mile Challenge - Observations and Aftermath

Note: Please keep in mind that even though some of my comments could be considered critical of buying local, I am writing primarily about this week's experience as constrained by the rules of the challenge.


* Physical: In the beginning I was a little concerned that my diet change would affect my energy levels. I ride my bike to work and treat it like a twice daily 40-minute workout. (In addition I normally run 2-3 times a week but didn't this week because of a sore foot.) As it happened, there was nothing to be concerned about. I felt hungry a lot of the time but my energy levels were pretty much the same. And I'm five pounds lighter which seems impossible considering how much food I was eating. Kathy was concerned that the lack of salt would somehow affect my health. I'm not going to get into the salt issue since it was addressed sufficiently by the other challengers.

* Economic: I can't complain about the price of fruits and vegetables. They don't seem that unreasonable. Locally grown meat--which made up my greatest expenditure--can really set you back if you're buying individual cuts or packages. Now don't take that to mean meat prices are unreasonable. It does cost more but you're better off buying in bulk. Of course that requires freezer space as well as a single large payment so there's that. We've purchased a half of a beef before and found it well worth it. It tastes so much better than the industry-raised, grain-fed stuff. Even Kathy, who's not much of a meat eater, noticed how the grass-fed beef had a better taste and texture. Local milk is way more expensive. I'm ambivalent about the various milk arguments so when we go through a gallon every day I'm concerned with balancing cost with nutrition.

* Availability: Fruits and vegetables are great when they're in season. If you don't know how (or can't afford it) to can, then you're at the mercy of the seasons. Or you can buy those apples shipped here from Chile. In the not-too-distant past--okay maybe more distant for you than me--people had root cellars for storing their food. Some of that knowledge is not so common any more but it hasn't completely disappeared. I still have some of that in my set of Foxfire books. I should peruse them some time. The farmers markets are great, but you're limited by your available transportation and the day/hours the market is open, especially if it's while you're working.

* Experience: Emmer and comfrey? Never heard of 'em. But I have now. I enjoyed the creativity of the other challengers. Some of their dishes looked amazing. And some not. Same with mine. Making my own butter was a fun and interesting experience.

As far as my family went, Stephanie took the greatest interest. Although she occasionally added salt, pepper or butter, she also tried new foods and liked most of them. Tomorrow we pick up some blue potatoes with which to make blue mashed potatoes. Will the butter turn them green? Josh has always been a go-with-the-tried-and-true-foods kind of guy. Anything other than beef/chicken, potatoes and corn is "gross". He was not about to try the lamb or yellow squash but he does like that local beef. Kathy loved the vegetables, but then she always has.

The home grown vegetables provided the greatest satisfaction for me. Plucking that plump tomato off the vine, revealing a meaty interior with a sharp knife, and getting that rush of juicy freshness the taste buds with each bite is the best.

Everyone else said enough about salt so I don't need to delve into that other than to say I sorely missed seasoning. I also missed ice cream and beer--though not necessarily together.

Overall, this was a valuable and worthwhile experience. And it was fun. Except for the lack of salt. But there's already been enough said about that.


Pat S said...

Great to hear your observations. Although I've wondered how it went without salt and noticed that you didn't really talk about it.

Carrie Oliver said...

Curious what farm/ranch the beef came from? I'm always looking for folks who raise/age great tasting beef, especially grass-fed and finished. Thanks!

Hank Greer said...


If you're asking about the half of beef I mentioned, it was from a friend who raised just a few beef a year. He no longer does that.


You're killin' me, man. :-)

Geneva said...

Hi Hank,

If you email your address to the SpokaneFoodBlog contact email in the upper right corner on the blog, I can mail you your prize!