This post is part of the guest series “Locavore Q & A“. Whether a beginning cook in the kitchen or a seasoned local farmer, we all have different motivations for choosing a locavore lifestyle. Each post highlights a different perspective on local food. Today’s post was written by Liz from Carpé Season, a blog you’ve heard me rave about. Her recipes are full of local love. Her photos, gorgeous. Her work, tremendous. She and I are the best example of where there’s good food, good people are bound to come together. A guest post series wouldn’t be the same without her! So excited to have you Liz!
Greetings, Minnesota Locavore Readers! I’m so happy to be a part of this series on eating locally and cannot wait to read what other contributors have to say in response to Amy’s thoughtful questions. This is one of my very favorite blogs, so I am excited to be a part of it. Thanks, Amy!
Q: What would you recommend to someone who is on the fence about a locavore lifestyle?
My biggest hangup, and I think most people’s, before beginning to eat more locally and seasonally was doing without. For example, my husband and I are bell pepper fiends. From curries to pastas to salads, we love to add peppers to just about anything. So when we considered only using fresh bell peppers for those precious few months that we could find them locally, we both pathetically looked at each other and wondered how we would do without them the rest of the year. But, convinced it was worth the attempt by Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle as well as a couple of Michael Pollan books, we decided we would try it for a year, starting, of course, after bell pepper season.
I flash froze about one hundred bags of peppers, as well as a chest freezer full of other vegetables courtesy of Minnesota’s bountiful farmers markets, and onward we went into winter, sans fresh spinach salads, sans fresh peppers, sans fresh anything, really. And while we definitely missed the fresh crunch of non-frozen fruits and veggies, the time or two that I did cave in and buy strawberries from California in January, I regretted it. They tasted awful. And what I found was…just like we anticipate that first spring day where we can bare our winter legs under a skirt, so it is with food. We were longing for spring greens by the time April rolled around, and when that green hit the markets, we went a little crazy with it and feasted for weeks on essentially nothing but greens…continuing the process for each new fruit and veggie that became available over the summer and fall. The produce that we bought in season and that had not traveled thousands of miles was mind-blowingly better than that produce would be any other time of year.
So my encouragement to those of you on the fence is: try it. Let yourself long for each local season, and then feast when that season comes. And if there’s something you’re just convinced that you can’t do without, learn about the best way to preserve it – freezing, drying, or canning – which are all a lot easier than you might think. My final word of advice is this: if you find yourself dying for some fresh cilantro on the top of your February soup, cut yourself some slack…you’ll either satisfy the craving or realize the taste of cilantro from Mexico just doesn’t do it for you anymore.
Q: It’s farmers’ market season. Which market do you shop at and what are you most looking forward to buying this summer?
I can’t tell you how happy I am to see the return of the farmers market. After months of frozen veggies, I basically cradled my first fresh asparagus purchase of the season like a baby and cooed to it the entire way home. I typically shop at the Midtown Farmers’ Market on Lake Street in Minneapolis. It’s a lot smaller than many other markets, and only open on Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings, but I love how easy it is to become familiar with the vendors due to its size. Plus, they almost always have some great live music on Saturday mornings that goes perfectly with one vendor’s fresh coffee and another’s freshly baked muffins.
I am beyond eager to buy many things this summer, but chief among them are bushels full of bell peppers, little tubs of local blueberries and raspberries, and of course, farm-fresh sweet corn. None of these items are even close to tasty when bought out-of-season and from out-of-state the rest of the year, so I can’t wait to sink my teeth into that fresh corn, and nibble on sweet, non-moldy berries all summer. Additionally, I love the bundles of completely cost-effective fresh herbs available at the farmers market…all summer, my counter top is cluttered with fresh basil, rosemary, cilantro, and mint, sticking their unruly tops out of plastic “vases” filled with water to keep them fresh, just waiting to be added to grilled fajitas or homemade pizza.
Are you drooling too? Find your local farmers market and get to it!