As I plan for going “hardcore” local in the Dakota Local Food Challenge, that’s the first seemingly insurmountable task. How can I narrow down the exceptions to the local food rule to just seven?
Here’s what I have so far. You’ll notice I’m stretching the definition of an “item” a bit already.
- Coffee. Non-negotiable.
- Salt and spices. I realize this seems like a lot to count as just one item. But there is a precedent for this: People have traded for spices for centuries, while still getting the bulk of their diet locally. And there’s just a practical component to this thinking also, as bland food is not going to inspire anyone to stick with a “go local” mentality. So I’m declaring anything in my spice drawer fair game, except that if I can get it locally, I need to use the local source instead. (I grow a few herbs, and I can get a few more from the farmers market.)
- Condiments, including soy sauce, ketchup and mustard. Again, it’s a lot to cram into one item. But these are staples in some recipes that are otherwise local, like stir-fry, or local hamburgers or brats.
- Rice. We eat a lot of stir-fry with local vegetables. I will see how local I can get my rice, however. Maybe we can mix in a little Minnesota wild rice.
- Peanut oil. A necessity for stir-fry.
- Milk and butter. I am counting these as one item because butter is basically a milk product, with nothing except perhaps salt added. Ice cream, unfortunately, doesn’t count in this analysis. I am going to be on the lookout for a local source for dairy, however!
- Vinegar. I am going to be on the lookout for a local source for this, too, in which case I could substitute something else into the exceptions list. If I’m going to eat salads, and buy/make some pickled veggies, vinegar is fairly important.
I am adding one asterisk to my list: sugar. I am planning to substitute honey wherever possible, but if I come across some delectable jams or jellies made with local fruit, I’m not going to cross them off my list because of they were made with sugar. Some sugar might actually be considered fairly local anyway, if we count that made from sugar beets in North Dakota. There might be other considerations besides “localness” in that decision, however. In any case, I’m swearing it off in its straight form.
Something not on my list that is going to be difficult: Sparkling water. My husband chastises me for purchasing what comes free from the tap, but somehow the added fizz and a little flavor makes it a pleasing beverage instead of just a thirst-quencher. But I’ll have to figure out something else for two weeks. Maybe I’ll experiment with some tea-like infusions with local ingredients.
And I’m probably not thinking of everything I’ll want to make exceptions for! Here’s hoping I can find a few local sources for the above, so I can add swap out some other things that didn’t make the list.
What are your challenges as you gear up to go local? You can comment below, or go to forum.dakotafire.net.