Posted by Sarah Dore, Tom’s of Maine consumer, Kennebunkport, Maine
A few years ago I was given the book Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet by By Alisa Smith, J. B. MacKinnon and was intrigued by the simplistic concept of the lifestyle. The philosophies of “less is more” and “everything in moderation” combined with our desire, as a family, to commit to “greening” up our lives, fit together so perfectly. We decided to commit a year of eating only food that was grown or raised in Maine, and suddenly, we found ourselves in the midst of the long Maine Winter, dreaming of green gardens, hot sun and our hands deep in the dirt.
Committing to our goal was easy, but the reality of the project has come with its own challenges. Prior to starting on Earth Day of this year, we spent 2 months sourcing our food- figuring out where to get the essentials- flour, honey, meat, dairy… Now, we are focused on weeding out food that was truly made in Maine versus that which was packaged in Maine (a challenging reality of grocery stores– we’re learning “local” doesn’t ALWAYS mean “local”!).
Truly the biggest challenge right now is learning to eat seasonally. We look forward to the Saturday Farmer’s Market and are learning who’s got the best kale, where to go for cheese and how early we have to arrive so as not to miss the slender asparagus. However, we have learned quickly that even if we really want garlic, if no one’s selling it, we’re out of luck. We’ve had to get used to eliminating that which just isn’t grown in Maine- rice, coffee, sugar- and learn to substitute for what is (potatoes, kale and more potatoes).
One of our greatest accomplishments has been the food that we make at home. Right now we’re going through about 2-3 loaves of bread, 6 to 8, 8 ounce yogurts, 2 blocks of cheese and 1 pound of pasta a week. With three kids and two full time jobs, we’ve had to really work together to make it all happen. There is nothing like a warm loaf of bread with a heaping plate of homemade Fuseli pasta and beef meatballs from a local farm to make you feel like your labor and sweat was all worth it. So far, we’re missing only very little- avocado’s, tacos and perhaps a bottle of grape juice.
Watching our garden grow is exciting, but the most rewarding piece of this project is seeing our children get interested and invested in both the daily and long-term aspects of the goal. Helping them learn simple concepts that we take for granted (hamburgers are made from beef and beef is cow!) in our cleaned up, scrubbed down and pretty-packaged world of food is priceless and we hope that these lessons will help them to become informed consumers throughout the rest of their lives.
You can read more about Sarah, her family and their journey at byebyebananas.wordpress.com
What does eating locally look like in your part of the country?