Day 4 of our Downshifting Manifesto asks people to make a meal from scratch using fresh, local ingredients. And 'tis the season for reaping fresh fruits and vegetables, all over the U.S. Farmer's markets, community gardens, and CSAs are growing all over the country, thanks to the burgeoning interest in locally produced foods. If you haven't yet checked out Local Harvest and Eat Wild, today's the day to type in your zip code and find out about the local producers near you. So, celebrate the fantastic revival of simple, wholesome dishes. Consider organic, home-grown, and fair trade too. Cooking fresh food is cheaper and can often be quicker than the processed options, with taste and health benefits beyond anything in a box. Enjoy putting your meal together, and enlist the help of the eaters!
If you already eat locally, next time you're out at your favorite supermarket or restaurant be sure to ask what's local on the menu. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and we want those buyers to know that supporting local farmers is important to their customers.
For those of you who are ready to take on the next eating local challenge, try learning to preserve your local produce into the winter, by canning, fermenting, freezing, or dehydrating. You can find some food preservation resources on line, you can order the book Putting Food By, or you can try your local community resources to see if there are food preservation classes offered near you. In my area, Boulder County Going Local sponsored a class with Sandy Cruz, of High Altitude Permaculture, where I learned to dehydrate fruits and vegetables using nothing more than flat baskets and the sun. I also learned to make bread, meusli, saurkraut, kefir, and goat cheese, and now can make these locally all year long. Yum!