Sunday, April 29, 2007

Penny-Wise Eat Local Challenge, The Final Day

Baby grape leaves on the vine

I think I am going to write a new diet book; I'll call it Eat Local, Feel Better, Help the Earth, and Lose More than Weight. Too long a title? Yeah, well, maybe.

I don't actually know if I lost weight during my local eating week, but I feel as if I ate this way all the time, I would. Whether this is due to what I was eating this week, or to the pressure of reporting what I was eating to the world, I don't know.

We have been trying to eat as locally as possible for a year or so now, so I didn't expect to have any major revelations during our experiment. And, in fact, the focus of our meals is usually local. What I realized was that the extras usually weren't. My granola, for example- even though I make it myself, from ingredients purchased from the Mennonite store, I felt it had too many non-local ingredients to include it even as an exemption. Tortilla and potato chips come from the grocery store. (There are local chips around, but we don't like them as well.) Same thing with ice cream. Mayonnaise, mustard, catsup. And this is probably why I feel like the week was a slimming one- with the exception of the mustard, all of these foods are calorie dense, and for the most part, highly processed; things I shouldn't be eating anyway.

For our last day on the challenge, I tried something I have been wanting to do for a while- make my own tofu. I'll talk about the process more at another time, but I did it because I realized I had no idea where my tofu as made, how far it travelled, anything. Soybeans do grow in the field down the road from my house, but since they are a commodity, I have no idea if the ones I bought at my local bulk store grew here or in Missouri. We also toasted the end of our week with the MOST local item since the dandelion soup- Chuck's Devil Dog 50-50 Wine. Using our own Concord grapes, Chuck has made wine for the past 4 years. He thinks the 2006 vintage is the best- I think it surpasses Koolaid in sweetness. I generally pass it up.

The Menu:
Breakfast: The last of the cherry zucchini muffins. Thank goodness!
Lunch: Chuck had the last of the chicken corn soup, I had a peanutbutter whoopie pie bought at the Mennonite greenhouse when we purchased some pansies for the garden.
Dinner: Stir fried spinach, green onion and mushroom over brown rice with tofu
Snack: Yes, yogurt. With peaches. And Chuck had Devil Dog Wine.

Local Items:
Muffins already included in weekly total
Whoopie Pie- $0.79
Spinach: $0.50
Onion $0.50
Mushroom $0.50
Yogurt- $0.24
Peaches $0.25
Wine: Priceless. The grapevines came with the house, all we do is pick them and wash them. I guess there is a yeast cost, but it would be in the fractions of a cent.

Tofu: Also Priceless. OK, OK, $0.25 for the soy beans, ($1.00/pound, we used 1/4 pound) $0.10 for the solidifier ($9.95 for a quart bag full, we used 2 teaspoons)
Brown Rice: $0.25 ($0.55/pound)

Total: $7.88. Total for the week- $81.88 with Wednesday's lunch out, $58.25 without the lunch out. I'm pleased that we came in well under the $144.00. We ate pretty much the same way we always eat, I didn't find it too dull. I did find it hard to keep from looking in the freezer or the cupboard for things to toss into the soups or the stir-fries- I'm sort of a seat-of-the-pants cook.

Caveats: I came into this with a lot of preserved food from last summer. It's a lot of work, but worth it. There were days when I came home from work and thought if I never saw another peach or tomato I would die a happy woman, but it sure tastes good now.

Purchasing meat as whole animals does take an outlay of money at the time of purchase, but is very cost effective over all. And I like having everything I need here, so that at anytime I can say let's have "X" and go get it out of the freezer.

On the other hand, I do have to have 2 freezers- one for meat and one for vegetables and fruit. I had the equipment and expertise I needed- I have always canned fruits and dried things. I've made my own yogurt for years, off and on. I like the feeling of self sufficiency I get from knowing how to do stuff like that. It's the same reason I spin yarn and weave. I'm not going to clothe myself with my output, but I could if I had to.

Some might say it was easier because I do live in the country, sort of. I would have thought that, too, except I keep an eye on the local food available where my children live- Kansas City and St. Louis, and let me tell you, KC has WAY more opportunities to eat local than I do. Not only are there a lot of small farmers, but the artisan products in the city are more plentiful, too.

Devil Dog 50-50 label

Chuck enjoying his wine

No comments: