We're an ordinary family, complete with picky eaters, budget concerns, and time management issues. But to prove that "eating local" works - even for busy families in cooler climates - we're trading Chick-Fil-A and goldfish crackers for grassfed meat and local produce. Join our adventure in learning to eat (sort of) sustainably for the summer!

Friday, May 14, 2010

"Remember when I tried that bite of green pepper?"

I'll be honest with you - my family is not entirely on board with the whole idea of eating sustainably for the summer.  I'm fairly sure my husband is only tolerating the idea because it means more cooking at home and less eating out, which appeals to his stingy side.  And my daughter started a vocal rebellion when I pointed out to her that goldfish crackers aren't exactly made down the street from stuff she can pronounce.  I believe her howl of "I DON'T WANT DO TO THE PROJECT THIS SUMMER!!!!!!!" could probably be heard wherever it is that they actually do manufacture those yummy little aquatic snacks.

In an effort to drag Liza on board the bandwagon, I've been trying to share some of what I'm learning with her, toned down a bit to appeal to the sensibilities of a five-year-old.  She loves talking about methane and global warming ... she just doesn't know that's what it's called.  Composting is good, for example, because it helps make a nice home for worms and bugs while they help our garden, and keeps stuff out of the landfills (which produce the same gas as cow burps, which is helping heat up the planet and hurting the polar bears). Thank you, Planet Earth

I'm also trying to come up with some homemade versions of some of her favorite snack foods, things we can make when we just can't face another bag of carrot sticks as playground fuel.  Our first attempt was granola bars, which Liza was very enthusiastic about making.  She was particularly in favor once she read the recipe and saw the part about how it's best to mix the ingredients together with your hands.  If there's anything the kid loves more than worms and cow burps, it's messy hands ...

As you may be able to tell from the picture, these are not strictly locavore-approved.  But it was a convenient way to use up a whole bunch of the leftover Easter candy - did you know that if you chop up hollow chocolate bunnies, nobody will notice that you were running short on chocolate chips?  And I figured that for a first try, the more familiar stuff we could cram in there (Reese's Pieces, anyone?) and the more control I gave her over the recipe, the more likely she would be to eat them.  

And I was right.  I think if I could manage to package these individually (rather than in one ever-congealing lump in a Tupperware bowl) they'd be perfect grab-and-go snacks.  A little bit of sweet, a little bit of stealthy fiber, and she didn't even complain when I threw in some sunflower seeds for protein.  I think I'll go for dried fruit instead of chocolate in the next batch - maybe with a chocolate drizzle over the top to keep Liza happy ... I think we still have a hollow bunny haunch up in the cabinet somewhere.

In the meantime, Liza has been very excited about the fact that the strawberry plants she bought already have strawberries on them, and she's ready to start grazing right. this. minute.  She asked me this morning if we could go strawberry picking today at Fitch's, which gave me the perfect opportunity to talk with her about fruits and vegetables being "in season."

I've been listening to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver as I do my training walks, and one recent chapter was the perfect introduction to the rough order in which you can expect to harvest various types of foods.  So this morning we sat down and read "Stalking the Vegetannual," and we talked about what kinds of foods are leaves vs. fruits vs. roots.  In a fit of creative genius, I grabbed a sheet of poster board and the estimated harvest schedule for Fitch's, and we made a calendar of when we should look for various veggies for the rest of the summer.  Veggies and fruits were drawn with gusto if not skill, and we even ended up with a bunch of smiling summer squash holding hands with some very pale zucchini, not to mention the Largest Potato Ever.  

I knew I was on the right track when she looked at the finished poster, sighed, and told me, "It's going to be a long time before I get to try another green pepper, isn't it?  Oh, well - at least the peas start soon!"

Yep, that poster's going to be in the place of honor (otherwise known as "taped to the end of one kitchen cabinet") for the rest of the summer.  After all, we still need to research and add drawings for when the raspberries and blueberries will be ready for picking, not to mention when that guy up in Avon is likely to have those funky Concord grapes with the eminently spittable seeds ...

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