Last year on April 24th, the St. Paul Farmer’s Market opened their summer market and our local eating challenge officially began. The original challenge: eat locally (by pre-assigned definition 250 miles) Farmer’s Market open to close, April to October. Six short months of figuring out what grows in Minnesota and how to prepare it.
I was eager to start last spring with visions of salads, broccoli and green beans galore. Was it ever a shock to come home from our first farmer’s market with a jar of honey, some assorted greens, and a peck of last year’s potatoes left from cold storage. Umm…what am I signed up for again? Slowly but surely the weekly trips began to reveal how magnificent our region is for food production. Fresh sprigs of asparagus, followed by the first zucchini and green onions. Strawberries, then blueberries and apples in the fall. Fresh eggs, meats, and cheeses all available from other Minnesotans who are in on the same secret–everything we need is right here if you only stop long enough to find it.
Today, I am quietly celebrating the year I learned why the Midwest is my home. The year that I grew my first garden on my own, made my first batch of applesauce, and watched our life transform. The day started with my Mom’s Easter brunch and collecting the eggs in my Dad’s coop. I will end it with a few lines from the book that started it all:
“The point of being dedicated locavores for some prescribed length of time, I now understand, is to internalize a trust in one’s own foodshed. It’s natural to get panicky right off the bat, freaking out about January and salad, thinking we could never ever do it. But we did. Without rationing, skipping a meal, buying a corn-fed Midwesternburger or breaking our vows of exclusivity with local produce, we lived inside our own territory for one good year of food life.” –Barbara Kingsolver in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (p. 343)
I am deeply blessed and grateful to start another good year of food life.