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GREBJACK's Photo GREBJACK Posts: 8,510
3/6/12 6:40 P

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I enthusiastically second the recommendation of the book Simply In Season. I am a CSA member, so I get what's in season whether it fits my weekly plan or I know how to cook it or not, and that book is my lifesaver.
Three other thoughts: If you want to get into preserving food, join NeighborGoods and see if you have someone living near you who is willing to loan a canner or steam canner. I know that mine only gets used a few days a year, and the other days I'm happy to let others use it. I have very limited freezer space, so canning and drying are the way to go for me.
I also buy dry goods - staples like lentils or wheat - in bulk directly from the farmer. I find the farmers either at my farm market or through LocalHarvest.org I feel guilty sometimes - I bought a 50 pound bag of wheat last year and paid the farmer $45 bucks - more than I'd pay at the store, but still, I figure it's about 1/4 of my total caloric intake for the YEAR and I only paid him $45! Farmers are saints.
Finally, look up your state's agriculture department online - they probably have a chart of what is in season during what months. Even if you can't buy locally grown stuff, you can start building your chops for pre-growing season cooking if you try out some recipes for, say, root vegetables and eggs. My dinner tonight will be a quiche (local eggs, cheese and wheat; non-local broccoli and tofu) with oven roasted sweet potato fries (local sweet potatoes from storage - if you have room to grow some, Vardamon sweet potatoes are CANDY!) and with squash soup (the last of my local winter squash - I started the winter with about 40 good sized squashes - yum!)
I think Zander is lucky to have a mom so concerned with feeding him well!


He drew a circle that shut me out--
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!
-Edwin Markham

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2/6/12 5:18 P

The task you have set yourself to do is admirable and will require a lot of knowledge, time and investment to setup. I'm still in the process of making it work just by having a veggie garden to feed on during the growing season. :) Then I'm going to tackle the Blue Book.

You can start with what is suggested on this thread and google it all which should yield more information for you to digest. I'm sure there are books on starting up what you are suggesting.

I was told that Ball Blue Book is the authority on canning and preserving so you can have stuff in the winters besides roots which can keep longer. (check library)

A good way to grow only what you eat without getting into row gardening is Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew (check library, get interlibrary loan if you have to, it's free) It'll take less room. If you do canned goods, increase the yield depending on what you need.

Local doesn't mean in town anymore, but can encompass several states in your area.

There are books that tackle in season cooking. This one is my favorite: Simply in Season Expanded Edition by Cathleen Hockman-Wert and Mary Beth Lind No matter what you bring back from the market will have a place if you are creative. If you don't have an ingredient, look for a substitute, google it or here on SP. For example, Thursday I didn't have buttermilk, so I used 1 cup of milk with 1 tbsp of lemon because I had those; no extra trip to the store. I also bet there are more book on this subject; check the library to borrow them.

I've found that the dirty dozen and the clean one are different depending where you look which is annoying; pick the one in common and you probably have a pretty good list is how I do it. Google it :)

Baby steps; get the info and organize yourself in stages. It's taken me a while seeing I have other things to tend to.

Good luck

SHIRE33's Photo SHIRE33 Posts: 976
2/6/12 3:53 P

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Definitely start slow. Do what you can at first. If you can't find local at certain times of the year, then you can at least be choosing whole foods (not processed, like not in a can or a box for sure). Then I second the idea of preserving your own food. If you have some freezer room, it's not hard to get some freezer bags and put up some of that summer market bounty. Go online and you can find lots of instructions for freezing food (the Ball Guide is my favorite).

Then one day, you might want to venture into canning. It's helpful if you know somebody who can let you help, but it's so easy you can figure it out. Again, I'd recommend getting a Ball Canning Guide -- they are only around $5 or so. A beginner water bath canning set isn't super expensive, and sometimes you can find them used at garage sales or you might know somebody who doesn't use theirs anymore. Then you can do fruits and tomatoes. Vegetables must be pressure canned, so you might want to put that off awhile until you get to feeling comfortable with "water bath" (boiling) canning.

That's how I do it. I buy what I can when I can, and then preserve what I am able. It helps. I think that the more people turn to this local foods idea, the stronger will be our voices for local produce and other food.

�The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living on a small piece of land...� - Abraham Lincoln

"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.
Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them--every day begin the task anew."
- St. Francis de Sales

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2/6/12 3:25 P

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You have lots of questions and concerns that are hard to answers, if we don't know you're priorities . Luckily, neither do you! You'll learn what they really are as you go along.
In no areparticular order:
Don't ruin your food budget when trying to the right thing.
In winter, there isn't much available, in season, so you're right, your definition of "local" has to become more elastic.
Different foods come into season at different times. Just as you get the hang of making a recipe your kids like, that food has gone.
As mentioned, learn how to can and freeze foods.
You will never stop learning and your priorities are going to change so don't worry about getting this right all at once.

The Dirty Dozen (buy these organic)
apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce, kale/collards

The Clean 15 (least contaminated)
onions, pineapple, avocado, asparagus, peas, mangoes, eggplant, cantaloupe, kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potato, grapefruit, mushrooms

Good luck in your first season. Go slow and you'll be fine

Fairy Tidbits and Dewdrops
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2/6/12 3:04 P

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It takes preparation, buy a lot when in season and make preserves. Maybe you can find some at the supermarket?

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2/6/12 12:42 P

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Hi everyone, I am new to the group and am trying to start a whole foods, local, hopefully organic lifestyle for my family and myself. I am still in the learning stages since we had a kitchen full of stuff that I can't bear to throw out or donate (we are a very low income family) and honestly I would not know what to do with a kitchen full of healthy food.

So... I was wondering if anyone could give me some tips or resources on buying local. There is nothing at the farmers market right now (the stalls are not even in operation) so I am not sure where to start. Whole Foods and Sunflower Market claim to have local produce but I did not see much of anything that was from my state or even this half of the country. How do you make it through the winter? Also, once the local crops are producing how do you know what to buy? I try to meal plan for the week and go to the store with a list knowing they will have what I need.. it seems like the farmers market might be hit and miss on things and since I know nothing about cooking healthy meals buying what looks good that day would not work for me.
I was also wondering about eating organic. Is it true that the only fruits and vegetables that you need to buy organic are the ones that you eat the skin of?

I have a ton of other questions but I will leave it at those for now lol I don't want to wear out my welcome the first day I am in the group lol emoticon

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