Friday, February 27, 2009

Supplies Dwindle

Charlie ran out of dry cereal today. And flatly stated, "the adventure begins" in a less-than-adventurous tone. We still have some far-flung foods that we're using up and really haven't had to sacrifice much yet. We have some tea and a little coffee that won't last long. You might want to steer clear of our house in about a week and a half, when the caffeine runs out. And we still have bits of herbs and spices. Not much sugar, which is concerning. We have a solid honey supplier, though and while it's not as easy to bake with as sugar but it's completely local. I have a real affinity for baked goods (a real problem on many levels) so I'll either have to figure out how to make the honey work in recipes or learn to live without muffins, scones, and cookies (horror!).

I've done a bit of research on where to get some Oregon grown necessities. I'll post my resources on this page, as they come up. Last year I searched and searched and searched for Oregon grown wheat and/or flour. I know what you Oregonians are thinking. Exactly what I was thinking: "Wheat is grown all over this state, so what's the big deal. Go down the road and buy some." Well most of Oregon's wheat farmers grow a particular type of wheat that is more tasty to foreign consumers so most of it gets shipped overseas. Bob's Red Mill is an Oregon company that sells all sorts of flours and grains, but it gets it's stuff from Montana and elsewhere. We suffered several bread-less weeks until I discovered Azure Farms. They are a dry land farm/ranch outside of Dufur, Oregon (just south of the Columbia River Gorge) that grows, mills and sells local wheat. They also traffic lots of other local and non-local natural foods. I highly recommend checking these guys out. I think they're fab.

I also need to mention a Baker City grocery that will be invaluable to us over the next 39 days. Bella Main Street Market (Beverly Calder, purveyor) is the best wine shop/gift shop/gourmet grocery in the Pacific Northwest. And that's not just loyal hyperbole. If you you're traveling on I-84 it's worth a stop into downtown Baker City to check out Bella's selection of ports, Italian pastas, local meats, and high-end bakeware. Bella also stocks produce from local farms and more Oregon products than anywhere else in town. And Beverly e-mailed me personally to let me know that she now is carrying canned Oregon peaches. I love this place.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lent starts with something-less-than a bang.

Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent and our 40 days without olive oil, or raisins, or sugar, or coffee, or tea, or oranges, or bananas, or kiwi, or berries, or, or, or...But at this point I don't really care. I spent a long wakeful night next to our sad little Luke who was throwing up pancakes and ham, all night long. This kid is a puker. He has never had an ear infection, has never been prescribed antibiotics, but tummy troubles are a regular occurrence. So I'm off to the grocery store for juice (not local) and Pedialite (definitely not local).
Luke will try again tomorrow.

For today, I'll let y'all know a bit about what's in our pantry. Our starting point. We did this last year so we've tried to use that experience to help us get a little better prepared. We froze every spare vegetable from last summer's farmers' markets. So there are a few bags of frozen tomatoes, blue berries, and peaches. We also have some frozen apricots from various neighborhood trees (everyone seems to have a forgotten apricot tree around here). I also have to mention that we have a whole goat (formerly named Bullseye) in our freezer. I was vegetarian for a long long time, but I've recently come to believe that being a meat-eater and a responsible part of the food chain are not mutually exclusive. We know where our animals were raised, what the animals were fed, and that they were, in fact, treated kindly like animals not like crops. Bullseye lived within 10 miles of our dinner table. How's that for low food-miles?

I discuss my conversion from vegetarian to conscious animal consumer in last year's blog ( in the post entitled "Love and Evolution." Check it out if you're interested.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Adventures in Eastern Oregon

Today is Shrove Tuesday and we're having pancakes for supper. That means tomorrown is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. That also means we're starting our local food adventure. All Oregon-grown foods for the next 40 days. Why? Lots of reasons. To support local agriculture, to reduce the enviro impact of our eating, and for the challenge. You might know that we did this last year. But last year we were in a very different place, literally and figuratively. First, the literal: we have moved. Last year we lived in the Willamette Valley. Lush, green, wet, and fertile most of the year. It was still a huge challenge. But this year we live in a little mountain town called Baker City. We're in the northeastern corner of Oregon, at the base of the Elkhorn and Eagle Cap Mountains. This is a different adventure. Lots of local meat here, and local eggs and dairy via goat milk (so I hear) but fruits and veggies will be our biggest problem, I'm guessing.

Figuratively, we're in a different place too. Luke is a year and a half and eating with Luke is an adventure in itself. I'm still at home with him but working part-time as an instructor with the local community college. And what I found last year was that local eating takes time. More time than I expected, to research the local producers that are willing to sell to a local eater and then to actually travel to the place where the food lives, and then to plan a coherent meal out of bits of local this and that. It is a worthwhile effort, but an effort none-the-less. So working, even part-time, will make this adventure more adventurous.

I'll lay out our ground rules for those of you just tuning in:
  • No food that was grown outside Oregon (not just stuff that made in Oregon, all components must be grown here)
  • An exception for things on hand (we can keep using stuff until it's gone)
  • An exception for yeast (and other levening products)
  • A possible exception for foods that Luke will actually consume on any given day. We're not sure about this one. We're going to try bringing him on board with the local eating, but I'm not sure how it will go. A boy's gotta eat.
Stay tuned.