Monthly Archives: March 2011

Wine and Vinegar

Springtime (?) in Maine

Dear Reader:

When I began this Outside the Box venture, my goal was to stay out of big box retail stores for one year and to document ways to buy from locally-owned (or at least NOT big corporate-owned) businesses. Along the way, I’ve dabbled with everything from gardening to spinning, figuring that if I can’t buy it, I might as well learn to make it/grow it myself.

One thing I didn’t jump into completely was locavorism–only eating food grown, say, within a 100 mile radius of my home. I bought locally-produced food products when they were easily available, but I also spent the bulk of my food income at the local grocery store. It seemed just too big of a jump to try to eat only protein, veggies, grains, and fats produced nearby.

The other day, an acquaintance I’d met through a community mom’s group contacted me to ask about local food sources in our area. I gave her what I had, and then I began to ponder whether or not I was ready to take the plunge this year and try for a 100-mile diet. As I wrote out my weekly meal plan and grocery-store list, I circled everything on the list that I thought I could purchase from Maine farmers. Surprising to me, I circled more than half the items.

Maine Wine and Vinegar

In fact, I believe that with the exception of rice, my family could live on a locavore diet–substituting good ol’ Maine potatoes and corn for the brown rice I usually prefer for starch. Around me I have beef and eggs and chicken (and I believe pork, though I haven’t done too well seeking it out) and venison, if my husband shoots one this year or if I finally do what I’ve been threatening to do for a long time and learn how to use a bow and shoot one myself.

There are some veggie farmers in nearby towns, and I can grow a few things for myself. I bought some wine from a Maine vintner (Blacksmiths Winery in Casco)and some raw vinegar from Ricker Hill Orchards in Turner while stopping to get a prescription filled at the local Hannaford’s a couple weeks ago.

I’ve purchased safflower oil from safflowers grown in-state (found at a health-food store in Kennebunk). Milk and cream come from Downhome Farm just up the road in Parsonsfield. We have blueberry, apple, strawberry, and raspberry growers in our town.

I’ve purchased Maine cheese in the past, though I haven’t seen any mozzarella–the lack of which might make for some unhappy family members on pizza-movie night.

The woman from whom I buy my beef has also started a food co-op featuring Crown of Maine Organic Cooperative offerings. Options aplenty!

After I shared my limited local food sources with my mom-friend, she shared the following with me. It is a newish farm in Alfred, Maine called Groundwork Farm which offers a community supported agriculture program (CSA) where you pre-buy a share in this year’s crop. Check out their blog by clicking HERE. I quickly zipped off an email to request an application, and I hope that there are still slots available.

I will also need to sit down with a calculator and my husband to see just how far down this locavore road we can go this year.

I find it so encouraging to see new farms starting up and so many people becoming interested in supporting local agriculture. It is especially encouraging this week as news from Libya and the Middle East reinforces my concerns about the future of energy–hence life–in the U.S. The sooner we begin to localize, not just food but everything, the better off we will be.

I urge you to find CSA’s, local farms, and local artisans in your neck of the woods this spring/summer. New customers will encourage even more young people to see farming as a viable career. Speaking of young farmers, I also found a great blog dedicated to these amazing young tillers of the soil. The blog is called The Irresistible Fleet of Bicycles, and is part of Greenhorns, a land-based non profit dedicated to helping young farmers across America. I’ve found many of their blog posts to be inspiring.

I will be adding these blogs to my list this week and doing some basic “housekeeping” here Outside the Box. It’s been two years already! Time to sweep out the dusty cobwebs.

Do you have any great blogs or websites that inspire you in your daily life? Sharing information is a simple way we can all learn from each other as we head into an uncertain future. Thanks for continuing to read!

Like Memory

Wishing and Waiting

Another new poem. Hmmm. Has my muse decided to get off her chaise lounge? She must be fat and lazy after 13 years lolling about in her silk negligee, smoking her Gauloises cigarettes, and drinking all the good Champagne bottles down there in the cellar (see Stephen King’s thoughts on muses and their living arrangements in basements), but I dare not diss her. I wouldn’t want her to get angry at me and go back to bed for another decade.

LIKE MEMORY

Where are the heirs of the dignified farmers
of old; dirt and seed
pressed into the corrugated, molded soles
of steel-toed boots, earth beneath
fingernails, and round yellow callouses
on the palm of hands familiar
with the hoe and the rake and the gears
of heavy equipment out in the barn?

Where are the daughters of farmers wives,
jam bubbling and popping on the stove,
while a cheesecloth drips whey
into a bowl, dull tin biscuit cutter
with the ruffled edge pressed down
into the resilient dough on the board,
and the push of cold, soaked clothes
through wringer washing machines in the kitchen?

Have they passed now
into a forgotten time, never to return and leaving
behind dry, empty husks
like corn stalks shaking in an autumn wind?
Like chaff scattered and crushed
beneath a rough heel?

Or are the farmer and farmer’s wife sunk deep
into the skin? Hiding in the bones
and muscle, the very living cells, the twisted
ladder of DNA, coursing somehow in the veins,
vessels, holding onto knowledge
until a time when need ignites
some inherited, instinctual knowledge
of soil and seed and whey and sugar
boiled to sweet, viscous jam,
red and vital like blood,
like memory?

Poem For My Daughter

ADMIRATION

I would prefer you wear
preppy plaid skirts and sweet
button-up blouses with little
round collars; sensible
shoes to cushion your feet
and warm sweaters to drape
over your cool shoulders.

But you like snug
tee-shirts printed
in complicated designs, tiny
skirts worn over footless tights,
skinny jeans, some with rips,
wide belts; glittery
jewelry wrapped around your neck
and ballerina slippers

So thin and hard
they must hurt
your heels. Every day
you create yourself from a palette
of cotton, glitter, and strands
of plastic neon-colored hair
clipped on
and fingernail polish in every color.

I’m awed by your persistence
and your capacity for hurt
in pursuit of image.
To me you’d be beautiful
in any sort of clothes . . .
even wrapped in lengths of silk
even plain dark wool
even rags.

For all the daughters trying to fit in, trying to figure out who they are, trying to make a splash and just trying to get by; And for all the mothers trying to understand, trying to figure out who they are, trying to make a stand, and just trying to get by. Blessings to you all.