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.
If you’d asked me last week if I would eat a “wrapini” (grilled wrap, like a panini) filled with locally-grown roasted vegetables, I would have said, “yeah, I’ll try one – when I throw on a flower print hemp gown and join a hippie commune.” But I had one yesterday at Hoppie’s in Oxford – along with local potato salad, apple sauce and corn chowder – and it was good. Really good. And it didn’t require me to quit my job and sell beads at music festivals.
It wasn’t just a change for me, either. Hoppie’s owner Danielle Williamson said it was a fun, and interesting task trying to come up with yesterday’s special, adding that she got most of the ingredients for it from a relative in Oxford. But she also said the idea of adding more local flavor to her menu has been on her mind recently. In fact, in October, she and several other local restaurant owners say they’ll be meeting with local producers to pipe in more of their products. So, something like Williamson’s Monday special may be offered more frequently in the near future.
Dinner wasn’t as local – stroganoff made with grass-fed beef raised in Earlville. That too, was excellent, and relatively inexpensive – it, along with farm fresh eggs and a host of other items, can be found at Solstice in downtown Norwich.
While it wasn’t the lunch or dinner ensemble I’d have normally chosen, the challenge forced me to break the mold, and like Martha says, that’s “a good thing.”
Today may not be as easy. Another busy schedule. If shopping doesn’t work out, maybe I’ll fry up some eggs from Georgetown and warm up some of Monday’s locally-made leftovers.
There’s a lot of pressure being the only vegetarian on staff during an initiative like this. Everyone thought this would be easier for me than the rest of the staff, and so far I am totally blowing that theory out of the water...