Last night, I went to the Local First “Eat Local Challenge Kickoff” at San Chez with my pals Look, Mom, Look! and Good Idea Momma. What a great way to begin this challenge! We sampled food from local businesses, restaurants, and farms.
I am up to this challenge, but I have decided to spend the same amount on groceries as I usually do, and see where that gets us. I am going to use previously purchased food I already have also; regardless of it’s origin. The new food I buy during this two week period will be, as much as possible, ‘local’.
Cleaver Mama left a comment asking, “How do I do this?”. This is a good question; and probably one I should spend some time answering.
Look on the “Eat Local Challenge” website for ways to participate in the challenge. Choose what is going to work for you. I am looking at this as a way to learn how to make choices while I’m shopping for food that will support my local economy, and to teach my kids about where their food comes from. Other people have different reasons and there are different ways to participate.
Most people agree that food within 100 miles of your home is local to you. If you would like to make that a smaller area, or decide to eat food only from your state, you can do that too. For those of you in Grand Rapids, you can go to the Local First Eat Local Challenge to find some local businesses and resources for local foods.
You can also play along at home with Big Binder. I will be talking about my own experiences and really hope that as I learn and share what I find, so will everyone reading. And of course; play all of the contests! Eating locally doesn’t get easier than winning free local food.
In preparation, I have done some shopping around this week. The kids and I went to Horrocks on Thursday. Here are my first three lessons learned in eating locally:
- It takes longer to look at the labels to see where your food is produced.
- My kids do not want to sit still while I try and read labels.
- The information is not always on the labels anyway.
I asked an employee what cheese was made locally. She did not know, so she got the deli manager. She showed me the way to Steve N Sons Grassfield Cheese. Have you had this cheese? I bought it at the Farmer’s Market before but didn’t know they carried it in stores. (Cleaver Mama – this is the cheese that you liked at my house the other night!) It is really good; and I suspect it is because of one of the ingredients they put in all of their cheese; love. Yes, it says ‘love’ in the ingredient list.
Here are the next lessons learned in eating locally:
- Check the websites of your favorite local products to see where they are sold.
- Not all of your favorite local products have websites.
- Neither do all of the local stores.
We also got some other products with labels that indicated they were local (within 100 miles); Bareman’s cottage cheese, San Marco tortillas, a bunch of Arnie’s Bread, Schuler’s Garlic Chips, Slow as Molasses molasses, Miller Amish Country Poultry chicken (OK this is 111 miles, but you can’t blame a chicken for tryin’), Naturally Yours sesame sticks, and Carlson-Arbogast black beans.The total bill there was $35.98.
Yesterday Maybelle and I went to Homrich’s Under the Pines Market. I love this place, they have great prices on fresh produce and are really helpful. It is at 6103 Alpine Avenue. I wanted to get some peaches for canning, as this is one way to eat locally all year. Unfortunately, I missed out. The peaches came and went early this year. Under the Pines doesn’t have a website, but they do have a ‘produce line’ that tells you what they have available. The number is (616) 784-1020. While we were there, we did pick up some spaghetti squash, corn, patty pan squash, peppers, potatoes, cabbage, and a few gala apples which my kids eat like candy. We spent $11 there.
Then we cruised over to Heffron Farms. Their website isn’t up yet but it is close which is good news; because they are going to have some cooking demonstrations by Sue Chef and will announce them there.
There are several locations around town; here is the phone number so you can see which one is near you: (616) 794-2527. This is a retail store and they carry naturally grown meat without hormones. I am more focused on the ‘local’ aspect than the other qualities, but this is good to know. They have cheese from an Amish farm in Lakeview, MI. The beef comes from Heffron Farms and the pork and turkey are from local farms.
The milk is from Country Dairy in New Era, and they will start carrying Mooville Milk’s Cream Line soon. The veggies are flash frozen and from a farm in Coloma. They also carry Al Dente pasta, and several sauces from American Spoon. These are all from within 100 miles of Grand Rapids and most are closer. The store has a cute little fenced in kids area for them to play in while you shop around. This brings me to the next lesson learned in Eating Locally:
- It is a lot easier to shop in stores with cute little fenced in areas for your kids.
We picked up a pork shoulder roast, some bacon, ground beef, and broccoli carrot noodles (because they were on sale and I was very curious). We spent $17.26 there.
This brings us to $64.24; about our weekly average. Since the peach canning fiesta was cancelled due to the guest of honor being unable to attend, I will spend that time finding tasty recipes to use my local bounty. I’ll be back tomorrow with my menu plan.
In the meantime; please feel free to leave a comment with your favorite local food!