When it comes to food, Chenango County has more to offer than people think.
To highlight Chenango’s bounty of locally produced food items – and to encourage people to spend their dollars within the community – Opportunities for Chenango and Cornell Cooperative Extension are putting on an “Eat Local Challenge” Sept. 10-16. Equipped with a handbook and an eat local “passport” to guide them to the numerous products made throughout the county, participants will incorporate as much locally produced food into their daily diets as possible and keep a log charting their experience.
The Evening Sun staff is taking the challenge and will be giving daily updates on their progress in both the print and on-line editions of the paper throughout the week.
After only two days of staying locally sober, yesterday I had a relapse.
The convenience of a hot cup of Joe while I was over at the hospital yesterday was a little too much to resist, but there would be more.
I’ve always had a sweet spot for chocolate and despite the fact I was a recovering addict, that didn’t stop one of my close friends from offering me a miniature-sized Twix fix.
I had a number of fruits and vegetables yesterday and for dinner I had some more eggs. I also made a sandwich from organic tuna and homemade bread, courtesy of Solstice.
If the plan was to create an awareness of nutrition, then mission accomplished. In the past few days I’ve had ongoing conversations of health, exercise and diet with a number of local people including an organic grower, shop owners, a personal trainer and others in the field. Like getting advice about a relationship, it seems to vary greatly compared on who I ask, but I’ve found a few common truths.
One, completely forget almost everything you ever learned in school; the traditional food pyramid is moot. Hardly a good word was uttered in favor of the way nutrition has been taught, and many of those I talked to called it completely wrong.
Two, many of the people I talked to got their information from outside the United States because of the lack of credible resources found in our own country. If the obesity epidemic is an indication of this, then they are probably right – not to mention the recent FDA scandals. One person I talked to has a chemical retention disorder, an affliction that won’t allow their bodies to filter out chemicals. She said she couldn’t even eat the commercial organic food sold in most grocery stores because ever since the government began regulating organic food, the requirements dropped dramatically. She was forced to find alternatives. She started her own organic store and now runs her own hobby farm.
Looks like I’m going to have to unlearn about nutrition before I can be taught.
Yesterday’s challenge went much easier than the previous day. Although I still haven’t managed to get my hands on some locally roasted coffee beans, I’m beginning to see a lot of benefit to eating local foods.
As a very busy working mother, I generally use my lunch breaks to run errands and pick up supplies and grab something quick to eat on the way back to the office. Yesterday was no different. After a not so quick trip to the hardware store for paint, border and flooring, I remembered that someone had told me I could purchase locally made bread at La Maison Blanc. Although it was not entirely made of local products, I grabbed a mozzarella, tomato and pesto sandwich on locally made bread, and was amazed at the difference it made. (I would recommend that meal to anyone.)
As I was driving home last night, I considered what we had been told when the project first began, basically that there are different degrees of local. Obviously a product grown in your own town is local, but to a different degree a product produced in New York as opposed to California would also be local. I used that concept yesterday to create a meal with varying degrees of local flavor. Instead of driving straight home last night, I drove to my sister’s house in Georgetown and got some great produce from her garden. (I love gardening, but we moved into our house a little late in the year to get one started, and since my sister grew more food than her family could ever consume, it has become community property.)
I took two zucchini and several tomatoes, and after picking up a brick of New York sharp cheese, I hurried home and threw together a delicious and very healthy zucchini casserole. Thanks to the “speed bake” button on my new oven, the meal only took about half an hour to create, (which was great, because I had a Common Council meeting to get to) and the whole family was happy.
Now, if I can just figure out something to cook tonight.
People keep telling me I should have no problem “winning” the eat local challenge.
“You’re twice the size of the other reporters,” they point out.
But like I tell them, this contest is about the quality of the food we eat this week, not quantity. And it just so happens that I found both quality and quantity at Clyde’s Little Red Barn in Earlville yesterday.
I’m not going to say it was heaven, but a beam of light shown on this place from the sky as I approached it from the road. And for good reason – it had everything. All types of produce, cheese, meats, breads, baked goods (awesome chocolate chip cookies), snacks, gourmet candy, spices, whole grains and other cooking ingredients – all mostly organic and made, grown or raised in upstate New York. So I guess they weren’t kidding when the decided on their motto, “The little store with the best of everything.” Needless to say I opened up my wallet a little wider than planned. One more stop on the way home for a whole chicken from Quarry Brook Farms in Sherburne and my day was complete. Hopefully Tuesday’s spree will carry me through the week.
But in regard to me winning the challenge because of my eating expertise, I apologize in advance. Because there won’t be any locally-made yogurt eating contests, no faces buried in a trough full of local produce and none of us will have to chow down on soggy hot dog buns to save room in our stomachs for 57 grass-raised beef franks. Thanks for the vote of confidence, though. Hopefully I can still win the competition, even though no puke buckets are required.