what does local mean to you? or, me?

this blog has certainly been focused on the Dark Days Challenge, i'll cop to that. i'll blame it on the lack of a camera (gone missing during halloween) and a lack of a garden (gone fallow for the winter.)

on that theme, i thought i would expound on my thoughts on "local" and how i came to subscribe to it.

my intention is to buy my food as locally as possible with the limited budget that i have. this can range from home-walla walla-grown to produced in the USA, the closer the better but sometimes it can't be helped.

it began not even with an interest in eating locally or even seasonally.
i was fortunate enough to work at Baker & Spice, which prides itself on local, seasonal and organic products. in eating there over the course of year and more, i became someone more in-tune with the season-to-season produce. after a long winter of apple handpies, the appearance of the pink tartness of rhubarb brings a small thrill to your day, and then you are onto the berries, stone fruits and more. we were fortunate enough to have an exchange program with one of our suppliers, Gathering Together Farm, and as a struggling college and post-college student, i took full advantage. there is nothing like a booth of colorful organic vegetables to get you excited about trying new things.

then one reads The Omnivore's Dilemma and you're off on a new path...

naturally, there are differences between the ideal and the reality. you may find me in the grocery store buying lemons and i will probably have no idea where they have come from, but you will probably never see me buying tomatoes in the off months—or for that matter, asparagus. some vegetables are just too good to buy off-season.

when i am out of town i try to pick up local treats that aren't available at home. this summer i took a trip to portland in which my primary purpose was to pick berries. and now, i have some luscious berries stored up in my freezer for the winter! (better believe they will be in some Dark Days challenges!)

you get into things such a milk and cheese, two of my favorites, and i will confess that i am happy to consider Tillamook on the Oregon Coast local. its regional to be sure, and i simply love it. and the prices aren't out of this world. so as a splurge i will buy fresh local cheese (usually goat) but for my day to day eats, Tillamook still fits my locavore paradigm.

not to mention, there are just some things that cannot be found locally. correct me if i am wrong, but i do not think there is a source of sugar that isn't Hawaii, Florida or the Carribbean. or rice. they do not grow ride in the pacific northwest. so i haven't yet made the leap to local raw materials—flour, grain, baking supplies.

and specifically for the Dark Days Challenge i am fudging on breads and pastas if they are made locally. because i might not know what they are made out of, but i know that the people making them are part of my community and that is something i want to support—and want to include in my meals.

so..........what does local mean to everyone else? am i just a lazy cheat?

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