Monday, August 11, 2014

Eating From the Homestead - Eat Local Challenge 2014

I had mixed feelings about actually doing this challenge. I've been contemplating it for years, but I have always been afraid that we would eat all of the food I grew and then, we wouldn't have anything stored for winter and we'd starve. I know, silly, right? But the reality is that we grow some portion of our food, but our diet is heavily (more heavily than I like to admit ... in public) subsidized by food we buy. I know this, but I like to pretend it isn't always true.

So, I procrastinated in doing the challenge.

Then, Deus Ex Machina started his Foraged Sundays challenge, and I posed the idea to him that we combine our two challenges in August and still forage on Sunday, but eat from our homestead for the rest of the week. He was game, and we started the challenge.

It hasn't been difficult, exactly. The hardest part has been realizing how much I tend to grab-and-go. That is, I realized that I eat a lot of nuts and foods like that when I'm waiting for my daughters at their various activities, and this past week, not being able to do so was actually kind of tough. One day of the challenge, when I was feeling particularly peckish, I remembered that I grew popcorn. It was still hanging in the dining room, looking more ornamental than edible.

It's completely edible and took the edge off my hunger.

It's been an interesting week, and we haven't been completely successful in keeping our food intake to within the requisite five mile radius, but there have been extenuating circumstances. This week we had to choose between being strict about adhering to our very rigid personal food standards, or being thankful that we had friends and family who cared enough to wish for our company and accept invitations for community and camaraderie. We choose the latter. It's all well and good to have personal standards (and we still opted out of anything with gluten, including the mass-market National brand beer, which I wouldn't drink - even if I weren't avoiding gluten ;)), but sometimes life is better with people we love, even if they don't agree with or fully understand why we do what we do.

So, last Saturday and this past Friday, we ended up at social gatherings filling our bellies with food that was, decidedly, not local (except the homemade pickled beets at last Friday's gathering that were grown at a local farm and canned less than 2 miles from my house - local and delicious ... and, hey, Gar, we would love more, if you have them :)).

The rest of the week, however, was spent enjoying the abundance of our local food shed. Deus Ex Machina even managed to make a lunch each day that was (mostly) from our homestead (the first couple of days of the week he said he was cleaning out the leftovers, and he may have taken some leftover rice for lunch).

I didn't take any pictures or record what we had eaten. I ate a lot of hash browned potatoes with eggs during the day. It's actually one of my favorite fast meals. We enjoyed some steaks, hamburg, and stir-fry, compliments of Corky the cow who previously lived at the dairy farm up the road. We also had chicken, which we raised on our farm.

This week was a long lesson in doing without. The Tortilla soup (which is another of those quick, simple dishes I make frequently, especially in cool or rainy weather) wasn't nearly as satisfying without the tortilla chips, shredded cheese and the yogurt I usually add. I still haven't made yogurt or cheese, and it's still on the "to do" list, and either I'll get around to it, or we'll spend a month bemoaning all of the things we can not have.

Still, I'm not hungry, and so far, between what we grow here and what we are able to purchase at the farm stand, we've had plenty to eat.


Melonie, over at Wandering Quail Road has also decided to join the challenge, which she has combined with her own challenge "What Would Ma Ingalls Do?" She had an incredibly tasty week that included local foods from her CSA, some bounty from her own garden, and some wild caught blackberries. I'm impressed and inspired by Melonie to work harder at my own challenge, and I love her WWMID challenge. Too fun!

Be sure to check out Melonie's blog about her week of local eating.

And if you're joining the challenge, leave a comment and let me know how it's gone. I'll post a link to your local meal in my weekly Challenge Update blog post.

The most fun in doing these challenges, for me - at least early in my locavore days -, has been sharing my story with other people. It was always fun to see what other folks were eating where they were. I will always be a bit jealous of the Californians who can avocados and olives, but as I recall, there were some people who envied my meals of fresh-caught lobster. So, it all balances out, right?


In the interest of full disclosure, I should also let those of you who read my blog, but aren't on Facebook, know that Deus Ex Machina and I failed in our Foraged Foods only Sunday this week and had to fall back on just eating local (dinner was grilled chicken, corn from the farm stand, and some garden vegetables sliced and eaten raw - a real homestead meal, actually).

Last week, while cutting some vines growing near the road, Deus Ex Machina met a new neighbor. Apparently, and unbeknownst to us, we have poison sumac growing among the bittersweet vines. What started out as just a very irritating rash turned into a pretty serious case of contact dermatitis with some possible cellulitis.

We had to visit the Quick Care this weekend. The nurse practitioner was deeply surprised - almost to the point of awe - by his condition. The rash covered his entire right side (both extremities and his chest under his arm). It was bright red (like a very, very bad sunburn) with weepy pustules. He probably wouldn't have gone to the clinic for just the rash, but when his hand and foot swelled to twice their usual size, we figured he should probably get checked out, in case it was cellulitis. Unfortunately, because he could barely walk, he did not go foraging on Sunday, and so we cheated and had chicken and local vegetables instead.

He'll be fine, but it's a good lesson in building awareness, in the difficulty of balancing natural remedies and modern busyness, and in the need to balance our health concerns with our work lives.


  1. I love this! I recently started posting a One Local Summer meal on Fridays. Our diet has changed so much since I did OLS way back when, and we eat as much local as possible. I am not as successful in the garden as I would like to be, but these days are definitely filled with veggies from our garden, and although they may be very simple meals, they are delicious! The foraging...that is something I would love to work on. We typically go around and pick as many black raspberries and blackberries as we can around our street, but this year the birds seem to have gotten them first...

  2. YIKES! I'm so glad he's okay. That's kinda scary. >.< We went berry picking again yesterday evening and one area had some poison ivy growing in it - luckily I spotted it before I stuck my hands in the brambles (or my foot - I hadn't planned to actually go walking/picking so I had just worn sandals).

    I agree with you wholeheartedly - go and enjoy the wonderful company! Have you already read The Moneyless Man? He ran into some social situations that got sticky because he tried to stick to his guns but he was out in the bars with friends. He came up with a good solution for visiting family, but some of his other relationships did suffer because he didn't seem to have a flexible option for socializing. Good for you all for figuring out a way to have your (local) cake and eat it too. ;)

    Thank you for the blog mention! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I actually have pictures for the next one. Woohoo! My friend and I hope to have the WWMID? list up by the end of August, but I've put together a few little things for the current month and for September to get folks started. I think you're well ahead of us on both months, but it's really helping us to be more focused about it. It's so easy to feel like you didn't accomplish much in the homesteading realm unless there are some boxes to tick sometimes.

    Thanks for hosting this - I'm really enjoying your breakdowns, like always, and I look forward to other folks' stories too. Mmmm...local avocados.... *swoon* yes, I definitely envy those folks! :D

  3. I need to edit my week's post because I dropped off on adding to it throughout the week as I'd planned - but it's here if you're interested :)