Eating 100% localish

So I decided to challenge myself and eat 100 per cent local this month. If it wasn’t grown in Nova Scotia, I wouldn’t eat it. Everything had to be from a local farmer or producer, or something I had foraged on my own. Simple enough. But four days in, as I sit here hungry and cranky, I feel the need to re-evaluate.

First off, let me say that the province produces a cornucopia of edible delights. I can spend hours at the farmers’ market checking out the variety of foods and ingredients on offer. And since signing on with a CSA I’ve had great meals that have been pretty close to 100 per cent local.

But going totally local means no coffee, lemon, olive oil, chocolate or rice — all foods that I crave or rely on as key ingredients. I can’t find a local producer of grains, so pasta and bread is out. In fact, pretty much anything that comes packaged is out because there are usually some ingredients that I can’t track. Logistically, it means planning meals two or three days ahead and scouring the city and countryside for edible things that can keep me alive. And one more thing: It means doing this on my own because Tom refuses to give up coffee.

Right from the start I knew I was in for an ass-kicking. I didn’t plan properly and found myself without eggs or meat. I had homemade applesauce and strawberries for breakfast and a dressing-free mixed greens salad for lunch. I sucked back hot water (tap water, of course) with honey all day. I was in a haze the whole time.

Dinner was a lot better. We had roasted potatoes and chicken thighs that I had taken out of the freezer that morning. The tricky thing was cooking without oil and salt and pepper. The potatoes were rather bland and dry, even with a sprinkling of thyme. But the chicken turned out great thanks to a good dose of rosemary.

We squeezed a lot out of that chicken. We used the fat drippings to make a salad dressing with roasted red peppers and garlic, and parsley. I had leftover chicken for the next two lunches, along with a new-and-improved salad.

We also boiled several eggs that first night, which made the next couple of breakfasts far more filling and nutritious.

But let me be clear: At no point was I truly enjoying it. I was spending more time thinking about food (or rather about being hungry) than actually preparing and eating it. I found substitutes for some things, like a pricey maple sugar for cane sugar, and I was learning to live without coffee and chocolate. But cheese? I wasn’t touching the delicious caerphilly from Knoydart Farm in the fridge. It was certified organic but contained salt and herbs, and I didn’t know where they were from. And wine and charcuterie meats? I was avoiding those too for the same reason.

Something cracked in me on Day 3. I was at Obladee Wine Bar, which proudly serves local wine, cheese and meats. I decided then to loosen up and eat something. I wasn’t going to scrutinize the list of ingredients so much. Rather, I would enjoy the food that local farmers and growers were labouring to produce. I stuck with the meats and cheeses from Nova Scotia and ignored everything else, including the bread and olives. I had a glass of wine from the Gaspereau Valley. It was glorious.

Tonight we had a tasty haddock from Alyssa Foods. It was poached in Nova Scotia wine, with farm-fresh zucchini, onions, garlic, tomato and thyme. We reduced the poaching liquid after the fish was cooked and made a beurre blanc sauce. We had beans and steamed broccoli on the side. Tom had an Italian beer and I didn’t beg for a sip.

It feels like I know what I’m doing now. Yes, it was a tough start, but I have meals planned for the week and a better idea of where I’m headed. Progress!

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5 Comments on “Eating 100% localish”

  1. beccabeee says:

    Nice post (love Nova Scotia too, would love to go back there someday).
    It goes to show how the idea of ‘eating local’ is sometimes romanticized out of reality. Vegetarians love to brag about their varied diet, but so much of it relies on fruit and vegetables that have been shipped halfway across the world (mind you they do taste good!). Few people realise just how bland and unvarying our ancestors diets often were. When it comes to food, many of us are spoilt for choice! Makes me hungry just thinking about it 🙂
    Thanks for the reality check.

    • Terra says:

      Thanks for the note. This whole experience has really taught me to think about everything I ingest. Can you imagine if everyone did? Grocery stores would look completely different.

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