My Eat Local Challenge is over, and I celebrated by adding a spoonful of chia seeds into a fall-inspired pumpkin smoothie. This week was delicious, fresh, and a great learning experience. First off, I want to share some of my favorite meals of the week: Blueberry Cilantro Kefir Smoothie
- 1 cup frozen berries (pick-your-own)
- 1 cup kefir (I used Does' Leap goat's milk kefir)
- Few pieces of cilantro
- Half a peeled cucumber
- Handful of ice cubes
Don't be scared of adding the cilantro & cucumber to this smoothie! It's quite refreshing, and if you're a big fan of cilantro, you'll love this.
Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Sauce, Veggies, & Goat Cheese
My mom made this delicious meal when I was home for a night. She mixed summer squash and peppers into a Vermont tomato sauce, and we topped the spaghetti squash with it. We also threw in some peppered goat cheese to make it creamy & delicious.
Apple & Cheddar Omelette
My favorite fall meal. I mixed up a few of my neighbor's eggs and cooked an omelette with Paula Red apples and a few slices of cheddar cheese.
I also cooked up a chicken and large kombucha squash, which become the base of quite a few of my lunches. Good thing, I never get sick of winter squash.
6 Lessons I Learned from Eating Local (besides a piece of peanut butter fudge kindly made by a patient)
I learned to truly appreciate where my food comes from. My chicken came from my old pediatrician less than 2 miles from my house. My eggs came from my neighbor. The swiss chard came from a friend's garden. It's actually pretty cool being able to know exactly where all my food came from because I was able to talk to the farmer or grower. I even met the chickens next door that laid the eggs I ate.
I can drive to the grocery store about a half-mile away from me and buy bananas from a different country, hamburger from cows living somewhere in the mid-west, and spinach from California. I have no idea what that farm looks like, or how they treat the animals or workers. Buying local allows me to know more about my food.
Eating local made me eat more mindfully. Buying and eating local food is a beautiful process. I walked around the farmer's market, admiring the huge variety of produce, and talking to the friendly people (and those admiring my dog). I handed my money directly to the farmer. When it came home to cook dinner, I had to wash, chop, and cook the produce into a homemade meal. Instead of thinking of food as a commodity, I looked at it as more of a gift that took time to grow, prepare, and cook.
Eating local allowed me to eat seasonally. Season eating is fantastic to vary the amount of nutrients your body needs and takes in. It made me appreciate the food available this week in September. I don't usually think about what foods are in season at this time because I can buy strawberries in the dead of winter. However, fresh berries in the summer just tastes SO much better than buying imported strawberries in February.
It was hard at times! Honestly, some of my favorite foods are not Vermont-grown, and I did miss avocados, chia seeds, and nuts/nut butter. I rely a lot on nuts and seeds for snacks and adding more bulk and flavor to snacks and smoothies, so I had to get creative. Instead, this week, I ate larger meals and had a small snack like an apple, if I was hungry.
It wasn't more expensive. One of the big arguments against eating local food is it's too expensive! Yes, eating local meat and produce can add up, but meal planning and prioritizing is a huge part. I want to fit it into my budget, so I set my priorities and make it work. Instead of buying lunch or stopping for quick snacks, I prefer to take leftovers for lunch. I also cooked up a whole chicken and made chicken broth with the bones to make the most of what I had.
It's more than a week challenge. Even though I am not planning to eat 100% local from here on it, it was a great challenge, and I want to continue to keep eating MORE local food. I still went to the farmer's market yesterday and apple picking today. I'm planning on buying a winter CSA and want to eat more all-local meals a few times each week. It's fun to be creative, eat seasonal, and know that my food comes from the same wonderful state I live in.
What do you love about eating local food? Share below!