Friday, September 26, 2008
I grew up in Vermont, in a tiny town where my parents always have a garden and raise chickens and turkeys, and some years even pigs and beef cows. A few families In town use an informal bartering system: my parents trade chickens for lamb or eggs or maple syrup. They can some tomatoes and pickles, fill in the corners of the meat freezer with a few bags of beans, and even once tried a garbage can root cellar, but except for meat, once winter rolls around, they buy most groceries at the store.
It's a short growing season in Vermont. The majority of spring flowers don't start popping out until late May or early June. And early September is fall: it gets cold, there's serious frost, the leaves turn. After 9 years in Boston, I am still surprised when I see crocuses in April. And when summer really does extend into mid-September, I realize that for some places, the calendar makes sense!
I was fortunate to grow up in a community that placed great value on the health of our environment. Farms were small, everyone recycled and composted and gardened. I went to school for environmental science, though considered culinary school. I also have always loved food.
I am a good home cook. I want to feed my family delicious, healthy food that has been raised and grown in a way that is both respectful of the animal or plant, and also environmentally sustainable. I am tired of pink tomatoes in January. I've read "Omnivore's Dilemma" and I don't want to pretend any longer that organic also means that the animal had a good life, and a good death. I want to see where my meat grew up. I like cookbooks and cooking magazines, but very few address seasonal foods grown in southern New England. Even in northern New England, the growing season is shorter by a few weeks on either end, so I want something specific to my region.
I fell in love with Boston because it is a big city, but you can drive for 15 minutes in three directions and be in the country. I love that. It lends itself to farmers' markets and pick-your-own gardens because active farms thrive so close by--there's even one working farm within Boston's city limits. But information about exactly what to look for where and what to do with it once you get it home comes in piecemeal. If Keja and I know what we're looking for, perhaps we don't need to outsource. So we are starting a blog to journal our journey of discovering how to live in the city yet still eat locally-grown food. It's no secret that eating food in season is tastier and healthier. Don't get me wrong: I'm not going to give up pineapple or pomegranates or send back the amazing Nebraska steaks my husband's family treats us with. But, I am going to become more aware of what I eat and where it came from; I'm going to grow some of my own; I'm going to increase my family's intake of food grown in our area. There's a lot we can do in our little backyards to be good stewards of our planet and over the next year, I hope to maximize those things.