The earth's spring bounty is upon us. Not as bountiful bounty as the fall's, but it's pretty exciting to harvest anything this time of year. Lately we have been trying to eat more and more local food. Our personal definition of LOCAL broadens as needed. It goes
the Great Northwest (BC included)
California (vs east coast)
When we buy outside those boundaries, we don't try to convince ourselves that we're buying locally. (California, admittedly, is a bit of a stretch, but oranges just don't grow here.....and it's not Florida.....)
The locavores we know choose to eat locally and seasonally for one or more of these reasons:
Local food is fresher. It hasn't traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to get to Enumclaw (so it both tastes better and hasn't lost nutrients over time.)
Since it hasn't traveled far (if at all) it hasn't used much fuel.
One can usually talk to a local farmer about how the produce was grown or the animal was raised and make more-informed purchasing choices.
Buying local food supports our community's farmers and our very local economy, meanwhile helping to build the consumer-base necessary for long- term investment in local food production. We might really need that sometime.
Whatever the reason(s), fresh produce makes local eating easy and fun. Yakima asparagus (relatively LOCAL) is appearing in produce stands and in some folks' garden plots. Farmers who are even more LOCAL will have it available soon. Our own bed is rather a disaster, being crowded out by horsetails, so we'll be buying most of our asparagus this spring. We found some at the Puyallup Farmers' Market for our Earth Day menu and went back this weekend for more. A trip to Puyallup does add some transportation costs to our purchases, but we count the outing as travel/entertainment, too. (OK, we don't get out much...)
So at the market, we stopped at the stall of Enumclaw farmer Julie Rice of Red Barn Organic Farm, very LOCAL, and picked up raspberry bushes, a winter cabbage, and broccoli starts. We eavesdropped on a conversation Julie was having with another customer. "I'm new at this local and seasonal stuff," he said, "but I really want to do it. I just don't know how." So Julie was explaining to him what's available now, what's coming soon, and how she cooks the chard she had in her stall. He left with the chard, seemingly very excited about his new venture.
Closer to home, LOCAL produce stands are open. You'll find them heading out from Enumclaw in three directions. Two are in Enumclaw, Rockridge Orchards Country Market on Hwy 169 and Tracy's Roadside Produce on Hwy 164. And between Buckley and Bonney Lake on Hwy 410 is Farm Fresh Produce. We also have a number of Enumclaw farms that sell eggs, chicken, beef, and milk products directly to the public. We've bought from Acres of Zion and Meadowbrook. When most of our garden crops failed last year (we blamed bad weather) and we were feeling deprived as harvest season approached, we purchased a fall CSA (community supported agriculture) share from Ode to Joy Farm and had more vegetables than we could eat for the next six weeks (successful farming here despite bad weather!) Note the signs up for eggs all around our community. We haven't been disappointed in any we've bought (yolks bigger, shells harder). We personally appreciate the Enumclaw farmers who are making this food available to our community.
Most local of all is anything you can grow in your own back yard or on your patio. If you have the space, "plant a row for the hungry" as well, and share with our food banks. If you have tiny spaces, grow single plants in patio pots or hanging baskets. Or consider working a small plot at the community pea patch behind the library.
Nowadays we're planting things we've never eaten before. We're thinking, if we can grow it here, we'll learn to eat it. Join us in eating more food locally and seasonally this year. And tell us about other LOCAL food sources you've found.