❖The Richness of Eating Seasonally and Locally
Eat asparagus till you can eat no more
When I was growing up – I was blessed to have a mother and grandmother who were fantastic cooks. So of course I just thought everyone ate this way! But there was one thing that my mother killed every time she cooked it – and that was asparagus. For some reason – perhaps it was the woody supermarket, California grown plants that could not take the boiling, or just her own misguided desire to cook it enough – that was how it always came out, slimy, gray, tough and bitter. I hated it. It was not until I was in my 30s that my wife brought some home from a local farm and I decided to try it raw and see how it tasted. I was converted. Sweet, crisp, grassy, and all about springtime. So now every spring I cannot wait to get some, and either just marinate it or heat it in some butter – but oh so little – just till it turns bright green. What I have discovered though is that it has to be grown in excellent soil, otherwise it gets very bitter and woody, so after a few temptations at the supermarket with off season asparagus, I have taken the seasonal oath – that I will only eat local asparagus – but I will eat a lot of it. So this week you better get yours early, because I am eating it til I can eat no more – then I will be happy to wait for it again – next Spring. That is my way of eating seasonally.
❖ Cottage Cheese – a seasonal treat?
I spent part of this afternoon at a new partner farm with their beautiful Jersey cows out in the pasture. And those cows looked like they were on some sort of pleasurable high! Which they were. When cows get back out on the grass, they are so excited – not emotionally, but physically. They have been craving this live food for months and getting only dry hay and a smidge of grain. These cows were all lying down chewing their cud after spending the whole morning harvesting the gift of life and vitality from the sun and the earth. Now they were doing their magic by transforming simple grass into incredibly nutritious and healthy milk, butter, cheese and yogurt. When cows get back out on pasture – their milk production soars. That should tell you something about how quality of food really does matter! I don’t think the cows see grass as a luxury, like we think that good food is a luxury at times. Fresh grass is what they are made for.
So – when this burst of productivity happens – a dairy farmer needs to do something with all this milk – if you are a cheese maker – no problem – you just ramp up cheese production and store it for the winter time – this is the way in the mountains of Europe and here in Vermont as well. If you are a milk dairy – then you need to find other products that can last longer than a bottle of milk or tub of yogurt – presenting Butterworks Organic Cottage Cheese! Each year when the cows get out on pasture – Jack, Anne, Christine and Colin take all of that extra milk and convert it to wonderful cottage cheese. This is a long awaited treat up here in Vermont, and we were fortunate to get some of this run of deliciousness and will have enough to last a couple of weeks… so splurge. This is the true face of seasonality. Like the seasons there are waxing and wanings of production, flavor, richness and abundance. Reconnect to these rhythms and you will be the richer for it.
❖ Make your Localvore Friends Crazy
Tell them you are feeding your family 12 months a year on food sourced within 150 miles – and not spending hours and hours going from farm to farm.
So just for the record – if you are buying 40 – 60% of your weekly meals comprised of food from Farmers To You – you are a true localvore! Watching Vicki Robin’s Ted Talk on Relational Eating – I realized that you all – in partnership with our farmers and Farmers To You, have already done what she is saying we must do. We have created a working local and regional food system that feeds us well 12 months a year! Really – think about it – potentially 40 – 60% or more of your food all comes from within 150 miles of your home. 775 families strong.
That makes you a rarified group here in the USA where at most I estimate 1-2% of our population are doing as well. Our little robust food system called Farmers To You gives you a direct connection to those who are feeding your family, with very few moving parts to break down.
I would like to formally challenge all of our families to work to source 40 – 60% of their food locally – within 200 miles or less for at least this growing season. If you are already doing this – then go for more! You can do this within your partnership at Farmers To You or by joining a local CSA or regularly going to your local farmers market. Whatever you do be dependable, consistent, and appreciative. When we do this, the farmers and producers respond. They will meet the demand, and extend their seasons, and variety. Then, in turn, we benefit. Farmers To You started out with a dozen or so partner farmers, four dozen committed family partners and about 100 products each week. Now, nearly 5 years later – through your partnership, dependability, consistency, and appreciation, we have grown to 775 families, over 60 partner farmers, and 250 products each week. Your partner farmers are ready for the challenge – are you?
We are thrilled to be co-sponsoring Vicki Robin’s visit to the Boston area on Monday, June 8th at 7PM in Jamaica Plain. She will be talking about her personal experiment in relational eating, and the resulting book: “Blessing the Hands That Feed Us.” Go to the JP Forum event page for more information.
❖ Featured Items this week:
Butterworks Farm Organic Cottage Cheese – a seasonal treat from our friends.
Eggs – Eggs – Eggs – we have lots of them – the hens are laying and want us to eat more!
We now have new category of Eggs – GMO Free Eggs from two of our farmers – Jericho Settlers Farm and Maple Wind Farm. All of our eggs are pasture raised, wildly free range – they are not just “allowed access to grass” as is the Organic standard. This often only requires that there is a small doorway that the hens can push through if they are brave and strong enough to get outside. All I know is that when I pass Pete and Gerry’s contract farm hen houses – there is not a hen in site. Now compare that to our farms, and their hens are everywhere – and scratching, clucking, pecking at bugs, and grass and weeds and generally having a great time. When I went up to the fencing today at Jericho Settlers Farm in Jericho Vermont – they came flocking towards me to have their picture taken instead of running away. Clearly the fence is meant to protect the hens from predators and actually not very good at keeping the birds in. This is what free range is meant to be. When hens are out on pasture they get about 30% of their nutrition from the pasture – bugs, grass, and weeds. Their feed is therefore still very important. Maple Wind Farm and Jericho Settlers Farm are choosing a higher grade of feed that guarantees that the soy used in the feed for protein is not genetically modified. That is a nice added assurance. Our other farms use a more conventional but still high quality feed, so their cost is lower. The only exception is Vermont Compost Company where the birds feed off of compost piles and food scraps from local restaurants and cafeterias. While we wish we could get more of these eggs – Karl Hammer at Vermont Compost is still perfecting this model and production is still limited. Our hope is that we can work with farmers to replicate this model in the future and have birds eating less grain.
If you have not had a chance to try the Dirty Squid from Red’s Best – you may miss out till next season. This may be the last week.
If you missed out on the Bagels last week from Charlie at Patchwork Bakery – he has doubled production for this week – but make sure to order early. We have also stocked up on Cream Cheese again too.