Even though the weather's nice, I'm struggling with my workouts. My legs are still so sore! Maybe the 5k wasn't the greatest idea when I've only been training on the treadmill. I need to get outside more before the next race, which should be do-able with this nice weather!
Now I know the whole 3 people who read my blog ;-) are just dying to hear more about local food. Well, I'm going to get on my soapbox anyway! But not without a little humility first: I'm no pro at eating locally. Especially during winter in the Midwest! I know it can be done, but I'm not at that point yet. I'm aiming for little steps. Of course in the summer and fall when farmer's markets are open, I plan to frequent them much more than the grocery store. This winter pretty much the only local product I have been enjoying is actually from Hy-Vee: Shatto milk. And when I say local, I mean it! The Shatto farm is in Osborn, Missouri- 67 miles away from Mission, Kansas where we live. Shatto milk comes only from the cows on this one farm and sometimes goes from cow to store in as little as 12 hours.
We're spoiled with strawberries during the winter, shipped over from Chile. Oftentimes, your food travels more than you do! But produce that has traveled a long way often loses taste and nutrients in the process. Really, we're cheating ourselves by buying these "treats." Even organic doesn't do you much better when your food has traveled 1200 miles to your plate. Barbara Kingsolver says, "Value is not made of money, but a tender balance of expectation and longing." How can you put a price on your first bite of fresh, local produce in season?
I didn't plan well for this winter and had to get everything from the supermarket. And since we moved from Ft. Worth to Kansas City, I could hardly travel with frozen seasonal produce. In October, we actually had to give away our last bag of frozen blueberries that we'd gotten fresh that August from Ham Orchards just east of Dallas. Best blueberries ever! Luckily, I'd used all the frozen peaches (even better than the blueberries) and the fresh strawberry ice cream didn't last long at all :o)
I digress. What I meant to say is that throughout this summer and fall, I hope to freeze extra fruit, shredded zucchini, possibly fresh broccoli, and more. I am also going to attempt to make and freeze tomato sauce and pesto to add to pasta next winter. Thank goodness for modern conveniences! I think picked-when-ripe local, frozen produce tastes better than well-traveled produce anyway. This way, we can eat local next winter even when the ground is covered in a foot of snow! This will also help me avoid BPA in canned foods. I love canned green beans and I add canned diced tomatoes to a lot of recipes.
Local winter staples around here consist of things like onions, potatoes, and garlic, which stay fresh longer than other produce. Of course, the other local foods I hope to rely on more next winter are bread, meat, and eggs.
Says Barbara Kingsolver of her family's year of local eating:
In the winter we tended more toward carnivory, probably in answer to the body's metabolic craving for warm stews with more fats and oils. Our local meat is always frozen, except in the rare weeks when we're just harvested poultry, so the season doesn't dictate what's available. A meat farmer has to plan in spring for the entire year, starting the Thanksgiving turkeys in April, so that's when the customer needs to order one...Granted, diets low in omega-3 fatty acids are certainly not the only cause of increasing rates of depression, but it certainly factors in. And every little bit can help when facing another dark, dreary month of winter. Flax and chia seeds can go into a bowl of oatmeal or baked goods, but many people don't realize that local meat and eggs have an edge here as well. Not only do you know where the animal came from, how it lived, and how it died, but grass-fed cattle (pasture-FINISHED, not just allowed to roam for an hour) have omega-3 levels up to 3 times higher than feedlot beef, according to Kingsolver. Furthermore, eggs from TRUE free-range hens have 4-6 times more vitamin D, 1/3 less cholesterol, 1/4 less saturated fat, 2/3 more Vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more Vitamin E, and 7 times more beta carotene than conventional eggs.
People who inhabit the world's colder, darker places have long relied on lots of cold-water ocean fish in their diets... Several cross-cultural studies have shown lower rates of depression and bipolar disorder in populations consuming more seafood; neurological studies reveal that it's the omega-3 fatty acids in ocean fish that specifically combat the blues. These compounds (also important to cardiovascular health) accumulate in the bodies of predators whose foo chains are founded on plankton or grass- like tuna and salmon... Joseph Hibbeln, MD, of the National Institutes of Health, points out that in most modern Western diets "we eat grossly fewer omega-3 fatty acids now. We also know that rates of depression have radically increased."
I think that's more than enough info for tonight. I'm sure I'll have more to cover tomorrow. Writing is a good way for me to sort and measure my own thoughts; sorry if it sometimes overwhelms the few wonderful people who read it!