Friday, September 01, 2006

Eat Like You Live Here: September

Somehow, somewhere, someone flipped one too many calendar pages. Though it's only the beginning of September and still technically summer, the weather feels as though we've been set down right in the midst of autumn, the leaves are starting to drift down from the trees, and my favorite fall produce is already appearing at the farmers' market.

In short, summer is dwindling rapidly with every evening's sunset arriving a little earlier, and if you're like me, you're torn between rushing to preserve the last of summer's bounty and sitting back to enjoy the slower pace and joys of autumn.

While I didn't keep track throughout August as to how much local food I included in my meals, I know it made up the bulk of my diet as I rarely set foot in the grocery store except for dairy and the occasional non-local produce (like lemons). Certainly I made good progress on the preserving front as I've run through a dozen new jars and have been scrounging around for more, I've dried more herbs, and the freezer is more than half full.


I never did get around to inviting over company for a home-cooked all-local meal as it was a busy month, but since I cooked a couple of local meals with my housemate, I think I'll count those.

As the growing season draws to a close, here are a few ideas for keeping the local foods on your table during September and into the winter:

1. As always, visit your local farmers' market and farms. If the market isn't a year-round event, talk to the farmers now to find out what they might have growing beyond the market season and show your interest in continuing to buy local goods from them. If you're lucky, they'll be willing to meet you halfway!

2. Keep preserving the harvest. You still have a little room left in the freezer, right? And soon you'll start seeing apples, potatoes, onions, and other produce that can keep for longer periods without special processing. Stock up!

3. If, like me, you didn't get the chance to invite friends over for an all-local meal last month, there's nothing that says you can't try again. I know I'll give it my best shot.

4. In case you forgot from last year, September is National Organic Harvest Month. Be sure to buy some good food from local organic growers, and tell them you really appreciate their commitment to organic methods. Then go home and cook yourself a wonderful organic feast!

Since this might be your last chance in a while to buy lots of those good local fruits and vegetables, give yourself the permission to splurge a little. Savor those last tastes of summer, and, if you can, don't forget to save some for the cold depths of winter, too.

Then sit back and enjoy... that's part of the fun.

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