Monday, December 3, 2012

Eating Locally: One Year Later

{Stuffed peppers--my first all-local ingredient meal ever}

It was a year ago this week that I started the challenge to eat at least one locally-sourced meal a day. Called the "Dark Days of Winter" challenge, it seemed like the logical thing for me to try after spending a couple of summers growing some vegetables and reading books like Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and The Omnivore's Dilemma.  I met some cool people via our posts and recaps, and after the challenge ended, some of us started our own breakout group (the SSFC) to continue to challenge ourselves to eat locally throughout the summer and fall. Although our mini-group's challenge ended last October, we've decided to continue throughout the winter.

Our new SSFC Challenge period begins this week also, and I'll have a post on what I made later. But something about the unseasonable warm temperature today (near 70 degrees!!?!) makes me want to recap some of the summer meals I ate.

Although we are supposed to feature at least one meal a week made from all-local ingredients, I have found myself incorporating locally sourced food into all my meals. This was a lot easier for me in the summer than last winter because of the greater variety of fruits and veggies. Some of my Almost All-Local Meals:

{grilled chicken, mozzarella, tomato & olive salad}

I found a great farmers' market near my house. According to the site: "The farmers markets sponsored by the Fairfax County Park Authority, is a locally grown, producer-only market system. You must grow, raise or make all products you sell. No distributors, re-selling or brokers are allowed. All produce grown, meat raised and other products made must be within 125 mile radius of Fairfax County." Perfect! This became my go-to market until they closed for the season in October. The chicken and olives above weren't locally sourced but the veggies and mozzarella cheese were.

 I have found a great VA-based source for mozzarella cheese. I've used it in omelets, salads, and just as a snack on a roll. I probably never would have stumbled upon this great company if I hadn't forced myself to look for local sources of cheese. Love them!

Ropa Vieja
Cuban-style ropa vieja (shredded beef) using flank steak from Smith Family Farm, based in Virginia. Onions and peppers came from my garden.

chickpea salad
Another light salad. The chickpeas and olive oil obvs weren't locally sourced, but the tomatoes and cucumbers came from my garden.

Finally, Ribollita (aka Italian peasant soup)--the local ingredients were all from my garden: yellow squash, zucchini, and onions. 

Although some things are impossible to get locally (like beans, olive oil, spices), I've tried to buy organic when possible, and I've also tried to eat with the seasons. It's strange--but not really, it makes sense--but I've noticed a change in my palate. I'm not craving blueberries and strawberries out of season anymore, which is good because the berries sold at grocery stores in the fall and winter often taste like water and I used to waste money because they'd go mushy in a couple of days. Lately I've been craving butternut squash, sweet potatoes, chard (what?! used to not like it), and I'm really looking forward to this winter's challenge. One great side-effect of these Challenges are that I've been inspired to get more creative in the kitchen!


  1. This is a good thing! Congratulations! We do a pretty job of it from May through November. And then we have to eat shipped-in veggies and fruits for five months. :( But if I could, I would eat fresh and local all year long.

  2. What a great thing to do, the food looks lovely too. I always to to eat locally sourced food.xxxxx

  3. You continue to amaze me, Angela! I feel guilty that I don't make the effort to eat locally more often. The stuffed peppers look delicious. P. x

  4. I've enjoyed reading about the challenge, and have been so impressed with what you have come up with to eat that is grown locally. Interesting that your taste has changed with the seasons.

  5. I'll stretch my definition of local to Africa - but I'm disconcerted when the sugarsnap peas come from Ethiopia. For months I've been glaring at onions from Holland, why are we importing onions from Holland?!

  6. What a great post. I like the review of your summer meals. It feels great to be posting again about our local meals. I too, incorporate so so much local into our meals every single day. That feels really good! My winter garden is coming along really well. We have been unseasonable warm here too and things seem to enjoy it!

  7. I love these posts and they are inspring to me to eat locally and seasonally...I bet they increase your creativity a lot!!


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