Saturday, April 01, 2006

Eat Like You Live Here: April

One whole quarter of the year has gone, and now that we're into Spring (and Daylight Savings as of tonight), the thought of this year's growing season and harvest comes hand in hand with my delight at the renewed life all around.

I feel like I'm starting to sound a little like a broken record, though (and you may well be thinking that!), as I keep touting local (and preferably organic) foods. But though I haven't had much feedback from my Dear Readers on the topic, I'm delighted to see that "local and organic" is becoming an oft-repeated mantra in many places.

I'll confess, though, that I didn't do very well at meeting my own March challenges. I meant to get to the Bistro for lunch one day, but it hasn't happened yet. (Maybe this month!) I haven't yet talked to far-flung friends about a local food swap, though I'm sure I'll be able to rely on my Wonderful Parents to supply me with oranges again this winter in return for some local buckwheat pancake mix and my own pickles and preserves.

I did get seeds planted (lettuce, dill, cilantro) in pots but haven't seen much movement on them yet. I also picked up more herbs -- peppermint and sage -- and have started digging up some of my mint and chives to share with friends.

On top of that, I've been picking away at the local foods I have tucked in the freezer and the cupboard as well as using those good local grains in my baking. I hope to have more culinary adventures involving those local foods in the coming week.

Now, if you're like me, you're looking at April and thinking about how much you want to get outside and enjoy the fresh, warm weather! So April's challenges will, I hope, fit into that faster-paced outdoors lifestyle:

1. Find out where your closest farmers' market is and what the schedule will be. Not sure where to find that information? The USDA has a listing, and you'll also find markets listed on Local Harvest and the Eat Well Guide. Our market begins the first Saturday in June -- I can hardly wait!

2. Go back to the previous monthly challenges and see if there's something you haven't tried yet. If anything, go support another restaurant that serves local foods, and go plant something!

3. If you're going to spend lots of time outside hiking or playing (as I hope to do), think "local" for your snacks. I found a terrific local, organic, raw milk cheese at the co-op recently -- add some local applesauce or apples, or bread from a local bakery (or a friend who uses local ingredients -- ahem! I can be bribed), or locally grown popcorn -- and you've got an easy, nutritious, locally-produced snack. And if you're lucky, like me, you might even have a fantastic local dairy that runs its own ice cream shop!

As always, if any of you have further ideas, please share! There are so many ways to enjoy local foods, and I know I'm only scratching the surface here.

In the meantime, don't give up hope if you're having difficulty finding local foods at the market or in restaurants. Now that Spring is here, it won't be long before you can get your fill of good local produce!

Keep dreaming, and enjoy the warmer, longer days!

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