Jurich: Choosing — and loving — locally grown foodsWritten by Stacy Jurich | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s a question we’ve all been asked in cheesy surveys and/or middle school: “What would you take with you if you were stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere?” How about the question, “What would you eat if you were stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere?”
I spent eight months on an island in the middle of nowhere. I wasn’t exactly stranded, nor are the Hawaiian Islands deserted or without all the “necessities” of Western culture. I did, however, think about the food that is shipped or flown thousands of miles to reach the islands, likely after being inefficiently flown or trucked around the “mainland” seven or eight times. I know it hasn’t always been that way, and the possibility that the islanders would again have to become self-sufficient didn’t seem that unreal.
Fortunately, I surrounded myself with people choosing to live off the grid, grow their own climate-appropriate foods and harvest what abundance the islands naturally offer. These people also swear by an unbelievable amount of conspiracy theories, literally, and feel it necessary to be prepared if suddenly the shipments of food and goods to the islands are halted. Needless to say, I was conscientious as to what I was eating and where it came from. This was “buy local” to the max.
I took on the challenge with excitement, while not putting too much pressure or guilt on myself when I purchased or ate something from off the islands. The first key to conscious eating is using what is already there. Instead of driving to the supermarket, or even farmers market, I would first walk through the orchard and see what fruits were ready to pick. Even though I’d had kale every day for the last three weeks, it was still going strong in the garden, so new ways to eat it were created (and I shared a lot).
When it was mango time, there was no sense in eating, or even thinking about, any other fruit. The mango tree in our orchard was dropping more than the 20 of us could eat before they’d rot, so we harvested them daily and made mango hooch, mango smoothies, mango cobbler, mango ice cubes with rum and ate a mango off the ground every time we walked through the orchard.
Once it was time to supplement the hundred mangos with other foods from the market, I’d look for island-made. There was grass-fed island beef, goat milk, nuts, goat cheese, honey, vegetables, coffee, beer, wine and loads of desirable fish. The tropical fruits are abundant and seemingly limitless, like kumquats, lemons, tangerines, mangos, starfruit, avocados, coconuts, grapefruit, oranges, breadfruit, and my favorite, lilkoi. And yes, there was island-made Spam. I passed on the Spam.
I liked to make some non-island foods from scratch, like breads, cheese, chocolate and granola. I also learned how to sprout seeds, maintain active cultures like kombucha, kefir, whey and sourdough, and how to kill, butcher and cook a chicken.
After I got sick of riding my bike to the beach every day, hiking the volcano and doing yoga … I decided I’d better get back home. I’m just as excited, maybe even more excited, about seeking locally grown food in Toledo (go Toledo GROWS!), Northwest Ohio (Andy Keil Greenhouse, Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese), Southeast Michigan (Calder Dairy), Ohio and the Midwest.
I spent my 25th birthday at the Revolver in Findlay. Not only was it possibly the best dining experience I’ve ever had, but each of the four entrees served to our table was exquisite, delicious and local. I spent an evening at an end-of-summer cookout eating homemade peach ice cream and homemade peach cobbler with peaches from an urban homestead.
There is no shortage of locally produced foods in our region; just stroll through the Toledo Farmers Market in Downtown on Saturday mornings and see for yourself … before you go to the supermarket.
E-mail Stacy Jurich at email@example.com.