ELC ’08: for the mathematically challenged

1 10 2008

Well the Eat Local Challenge has hit its first… challenge. I realized that I have NO idea how to measure my self-proclaimed goal of 50% local food. Last night my beloved brought in some mushrooms he had foraged (Note: this is NOT recommended for amateurs…) and wanted to make mushroom risotto. ‘Great!’ I thought. ‘Hopefully there will be enough leftovers of the local mushoom risotto for lunch on my very first day of the challenge’… oh wait, except those leftovers contain a rather gigantic handful of rice from India. Hmm… not so local.

So how do I measure? Do I do it by weight? By volume? And if it’s the latter, is the food measured before cooking or after cooking? Because those mushrooms shrank in size and the rice grew. Okay then… what about number of ingredients? Hmm… it hardly seems fair to compare the sprig of local parsley to the chunks of Italian parmesan cheese I melted into the risotto. I mean, I barely tasted the parsley. If parsley can offset my use of parmesan cheese then I’ll start throwing it into every dish I make!

So here it is… my rather unscientific way of measuring how much local food I’m eating: I’m going to – excuse the pun – go with my gut. Last night’s dinner was a mediocre effort. As exciting as it was to have fresh mushrooms foraged by my beloved, the rice really did a number on my guilt factor. There were a lot of other mushroom dishes we could have chosen over risotto but we didn’t. So the risotto is worth 25% in my books. Somewhat random and arbitrary, I know. But I’d be fooling myself if I didn’t say that I can do better.

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3 responses

1 10 2008
Jennifer

Oh my, good point. I never really decided how I would determine how well I’ve done with the challenge beyond seeing my bill at the big box grocer decline.

Wahoo for foraged mushrooms, I bet that was a treat. It has been something I’ve wanted to do for awhile, but wasn’t really comfortable as a lot of the safe mushrooms look a little too much like the not so safe ones. But I bet that risotto was fantastic. I’ve only made risotto once (a butternut squash one), and I loved it. I even still have arborio rice in the cabinet…

I am a vegetarian, and had already purchased around 200 lbs of organic (grown in the continental US) beans and rice from a local organic buying club earlier this year, so I had to add that to my exceptions list. Basically, if it is non-local and already in my house it is game. I do have some other exceptions like oils, vinegars, and spices, but again, those fall under the “already in the house” category.

I am excited to go to the farmer’s market on Saturday, get our CSA share and see what we can do with the goodies we find and whatever else we already have on hand. I really want to limit the amount of non-locals that enter our apartment, not just for the challenge, but in general.

Oh my! This is a long comment, I apologize for taking up so much space!

1 10 2008
gillian

The space is endless Jennifer! No worries at all. Wow – 200 lbs of beans and rice is a LOT. I’ve bought local dried beans for the first time this year. It’s not enough to get me through the winter but it will certainly do for October. I’m a little nervous about depleting my winter stores for the sake of this challenge though… we’ll see!

11 11 2008
my month of eating local « hit pay dirt

[…] what about my goal? Well, you already know that it was a little difficult to measure. But setting that aside, I think that I came close to my goal of 50% local eating. To be honest, I […]

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