Take the challenge
Countdown: Eight days till the local market opens!
Talk about good timing: While browsing the Flickr photo group I started last year for the Albany-Corvallis Farmers’ Markets, I noticed that group member Katherine Rivera had posted a note about her new local foodblog: the Mid-Willamette Valley Eat Local Challenge.
Based on the national Eat Local movement, Katherine poses a simple challenge to mid-Valley cooks: Every week, from Memorial Day to Labor Day (May 26 to Sept 1), try to work local ingredients into your meals. How you do it is up to you. A meal a week using nothing but food grown in the valley? A little something local in every meal? It’s up to you. And she makes the challenge in a spirit of fun: Enjoy yourself, and if you miss a week, don’t sweat it, just try again the next week.
Heck, this is an easy challenge. I’ve been managing to eat locally grown food just about that often even through the winter, thanks to all the stuff I bought last season and dried or froze, plus an occasional trip to the indoor Winter Market. In fact, I’m down to about one good meal’s worth of last summer’s bounty (some dried chanterelles and herbs, a container of frozen oven-roasted tomatoes, a small stash of dried beans and one last package of lambchops from Wood Family Farms). If I get a chance in the coming busy week, I hope to make a meal out of that and clear thelarder for this year’s market.
Of course, the first few markets are more promise than anything. The growing season starts slowly here, and it’s been a cold spring so far. In April, we can expect spring lettuce, leeks and garlic, plus maybe a few hothouse vegetables. There will likely be baked goods, eggs from happy chickens and perhaps some of last summer’s honey from local bees. And a lot of plant starts, for those of us hoping to grow some of our own food this summer. It’ll be a few weeks, weather willing, before the early radishes and spring-tonic greens begin to show up. Bit by bit, the season will advance, the variety of wonderful things will increase, and by Memorial Day, it should be a snap to join the challenge.
If you’re reading from somewhere outside Oregon, check the “Eat Local Challenge” link in my sidebar – there might be a challenge group near you. Or start one. Or just take a personal challenge. Do it for your health, do it for the environment (food transport is a major consumer of fuel, do it for (my favorite reason) your taste-buds. There’s no more pleasing adventure than discovering wonderful things to eat in your own back yard, figuratively or (for you gardeners) literally.