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!

6 responses to “Wine and Vinegar

  1. You’re an inspiration Shelley! Sine you’re mentioning local and non-profits in the same post I’d feel lax not throwing in Rippling Waters Farm in Steep Falls/Standish. Oh, and CSA’s, they have those too, so they hit on 3 points. 🙂 Oh yeah and, pork is definitely available locally!

  2. Crazy Lady . . . I keep meaning to get up to Rippling Waters! That’s what I was talking about here. The local food I buy has been a haphazard project. Now I’m thinking this year will be the year I make a concerted effort. If only it didn’t take so much gasoline to drive to all the farms!!!

  3. I think our local farmers’ markets here in Virginia are about to open for the season, and I can’t wait! It always feels like such a long, sparse winter without my favorite food sources.

    There are lots of mozzarella-making instructions online, if you feel like dabbling in cheesemaking! I’ve seen some great youtube videos, just haven’t gotten around to trying it myself.

    • Oh, that sounds like a good idea, Julie. I’ve made queso blanco which is a bland spreadable cheese. I want to try making yogurt this week. Mozzarella might be fun!

      I don’t think our farmers markets open until May here.

  4. Localharvest.org is a terrific website to find a CSA near you. I used it to source some of the items I started using when I narrowed my eating radius. It is a great challenge, but I have to say if anything has come out of our very slow dive into local eating, it is my curiousity of how things are made. I am trying a lot more these days. I think my DH is very patient to put up with me! We are not full local, but we are close. It is a little hard for us as I will only have organic in the house. I am surprised by how many farms are not using organic methods in this day and age!
    Keep up the challenge, you’ll love it. Homemade yogurt, cheeses, soups and more!

  5. Hi Robin: You are one of my inspirations! Localharvest.org is indeed a great resource. I’ll have to pop over to your blog and see if you’ve planted yet. Honestly, I want to be like you when I grow up:)

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