Saturday, July 01, 2006

Eat Like You Live Here: July

It's hard to believe, but half the year has flown by already. What a year!

And since half the year has passed, half of the year-long local foods challenge is over. I hope you've learned a great deal about the positive impact of supporting local food producers, either from this site or from other resources, and I hope you've caught the enthusiasm expressed here for good local produce.

Did you enjoy your visits to your local farmers' market throughout June? You know I did. And I'm pleased to report that I tried at least two new things: local mushrooms and fresh arugula. Can't say I'm a big convert to either, but at least I've tried and will probably try again.

As for an entirely local meal, I did pretty well with whole meal salads, but I think that otherwise, I only came close. Not too bad, though, when we were still only seeing the early produce around here.

So what's next? You've learned so much already about how good local foods can be. Since we're entering the peak harvest season, why not enjoy it and deepen your appreciation for fruits and vegetables as they come to market?

1. Find a new way to appreciate an old favorite. Whether a fruit, a vegetable, or an herb holds a special place in your heart (and stomach), look for a new recipe and a new way to appreciate the fresh flavor you love already. Maybe try a new combination of flavors, something unexpected.

2. Try another new food. With more crops ripening, you're sure to find something you've never eaten before or never cooked for yourself before.

3. Go get your own! Sure, I love my farmers' market (with a deep and abiding passion), but on occasion I want to go out to the farm itself and sometimes even pick my own food. Look around: you're bound to find at least one you-pick farm or produce stand connected to an individual farm near you. Experience food fresh from the field... and deepen your connection to the land.

4. Preserve something. If you like jam or pickles, this is the ideal time to fill jars with your favorite foods. And even if you don't have canning equipment, you can still freeze or even dry produce to be used in the lean winter months. The more you preserve now, the more you'll be able to enjoy local foods when the harvest is over.

5. Incorporate more and more local foods into your meals. Expand from one day of local foods to one whole week with local foods filling as many of your menus as possible. If you love to cook and have a farmers' market nearby, there's almost no way you can not do this!

I don't know about you, but this is the easiest time of year for me to appreciate local foods because I can get so much of them. I know I can expect a wide variety of delicious fruits and vegetables at the farmers' market for the next couple of months, and I can't wait to load up my backpack and bring home as much of that good food as I can carry.

This is where it gets truly exciting, Dear Readers. How can you not love local foods at the time of year when those foods are so prevalent and colorful and tempting?

Indulge yourself... it's not that hard!

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