Anyway, before I abandoned writing here, I started telling you about what got us started caring a little more where our food comes from (read Part 1 here). Now I want to tell you about a few small ways we have taken steps closer to our food sources. Spoiler alert: we did not start homesteading. We moved from our cottage on the riverbank to an equally small plot of land which is best measured in feet rather than acres. It also has lots of shade trees. And laws about livestock. So, no, no homesteading here. But here are a few things we do actually do...
1. Hobbies fill our freezer
and put dinner on our plates. My husband is a chef by trade (which I may have mentioned once or twice), but he also loves to hunt and fish. So, yes, basically his life revolves around food. This is a glorious arrangement for me and isn't too hard on him either. These hobbies keep our freezer stocked with plenty of venison, striped bass, and trout. This year we're hoping to add turkey and squid (eek!) to the mix.
We love Pick-Your-Own farms! It is a thousand times better than grocery shopping with kids. I have never called up a friend to say, "Hey! We're going to the grocery store! Want to meet us there with all the kids? It will be a blast!" But a trip to a PYO farm means you can bring family and friends along for extra fun. Also? Sun-ripened rubies that melt in your mouth (or down your chin) fresh picked in June? THAT'S a strawberry. Don't let any sign in the supermarket tell you otherwise.
This is also a chance to let your kids see food with dirt on it - which in my opinion is important. Yes, food - GOOD food - comes out of the dirt. Thank a worm for the good soil, wash it off, and enjoy.
This is probably the most in-vogue thing we have done since becoming parents (or ever) but it was a wonderful decision and we plan to re-join every year. It's a crash-course on local, seasonal eating. It comes with slight sticker-shock (imagine paying for 20 weeks of produce up-front), but for us sign-up usually comes after tax return season, which is serendipitous for us. I don't want to get political here, but I will say there is something sweetly satisfying about giving my local farmer money from the IRS. Some CSAs give members who are willing to volunteer at the farm a discount, which is a great way to save money and get involved. It's worth every single penny, and then some (ask your farmer for detailed information on your return on investment). Also, you get a chance to meet your farmer and maybe, just maybe, he'll ask you if you like bacon (seriously?) and then tell you some delicious way his mom prepares their corn...which comes in handy when it's late in the season and you have your 111th ear of corn in your crate and you're just not sure you want to bring it home. But bacon saves the day, every time.
Thankfully we are just a short drive from many Pick-Your-Own farms, which includes strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apples and more. A 10 mile drive from the farms will take us to the ocean where we can find fresh fish markets, or, if we're lucky, catch some ourselves. On the drive home we'll pass a half dozen "fresh eggs for sale" signs in yards. I realize this is a fairly unique situation. If this doesn't sound anything like your "local," don't lose heart. Work with what you have. These things became a part of our life one at a time in small steps.
There are many ecological, dietary, and maybe even political, reasons to eat local. But listen up, eating local brings you the best tasting food you can find. I can tell you the golden middle of an egg is richest and creamiest in a farm-fresh egg, but you'll never know it if you stick with the ones that have traveled to your grocery store.
Our "here" in New Hampshire tastes like real maple syrup during the muddy late-winter/early spring when there's seemingly nothing else good going on. It tastes like brook trout in the late-spring with plenty of salad greens. It tastes like striped bass, crunchy green beans and sweet golden corn in late summer. On my birthday in June it tastes like strawberries, and blueberries flavor my daughter's July birthday celebrations.
We're not homesteaders, but we know what here tastes like.