This year, I’m taking on a farm-to-table, #localmonthly challenge where I eat local, home-cooked meals for one day every month. All ingredients from these meals are from Texas.
At the beginning of the year, I made a food goal of eating completely local one day a month. This #LocalMonthly challenge meant every ingredient (with some exceptions like salt) is grown and produced within 200 miles of my home. I hoped this journey would connect me to local farmers, teach me about the food industry, and give me some delicious things to eat!
How did I do? Keep reading about what I learned and did every month.
Local Monthly Recap
In January, I kicked off this project by talking about winter seasonality.
In February, Will and I walked an olive tree orchard and tasted olive oil at Texas Hill Country Olive Oil.
In March, I held baby goats and got a close-up look at goat cheese production at Pure Luck Farm and Dairy.
In April, I volunteered at Johnson’s Backyard Garden and received an abundance of veggies in return.
In May, we picked strawberries and peaches at Sweet Eats Fruit Farm.
In June, I shared my recommendations for learning about slow food.
In July, I talked about local meat and the abundance of resources we have in Texas.
In August, I talked about how easy it is to shop local at your grocery store. Stores like Whole Foods, Central Market, and HEB have signage that designate “local” produce and some even share farm information.
In September, I donned a beekeeper suit and learned about local honey.
In October, I went to the Austin Fermentation Festival at the farmers market.
In November, I toured New Leaf Agriculture, an enterprise of the non-profit Multicultural Refugee Coalition. The farm connects refugees to sustainable farming opportunities.
In December, I visited Still Austin and learned all about grain-to-glass whiskey and gin.
5 Things I Learned in a Year of Local Eating
1. Eating local reminds me to read the labels.
What is actually inside the packaging? When you’re required to question every ingredient, you also question the nutrition and value of what you’re eating.
2. Eating local is a privilege.
It seems like such a novelty, eating fresh produce from a farm in town. Can you imagine how this system worked seamlessly before grocery stores were built five minutes away? It’s also a privilege of being able to afford the time, money, and knowledge to acquire and cook the produce.
3. Eating local is rewarding.
Fresh vegetables and meat are delicious. You have to taste it to know. But it wasn’t only the reward of good food that made this challenge satisfying. We were supporting the local economy: local farmers, ranchers, and makers.
4. Eating local makes me question what I want to eat versus what is available.
Seasonality is a big part of eating local. Certain fruits and vegetables are not available all seasons, so you learn to cook new types of ingredients. This reminded me to go back to gratitude and be thankful for what I have and the experience it brings.
5. Eating local makes food simpler.
I’ve noticed that this farm-to-table challenge is not only about eating local but eating the purest, most natural form of an ingredient. Have dishes and meals become too complicated? Have our taste buds evolved to want and need more flavors? When I was eating local, olive oil, salt, and pepper were usually what I used to cook and season the food. Dishes like roasted carrots and grilled chicken were simple yet delicious.
While I’m saying good-bye to this project, this isn’t the end of local eating. I know we’ll still make our regular farmers market trips and explore all the local opportunities we can find in Austin. For starters, I would love to start our backyard garden, join a CSA, try canning and fermenting, visit a lavender farm, and visit Barton Springs Mill’s new place. There are plenty of local adventures to try! If you have ideas, send them my way.
I hope my farm-to-table challenge has been an eye-opening and fun journey for you as it has for me.
How can you eat local in the new year?
P.S. See all the posts from the Local Monthly challenge here.