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Preserving Vanishing Know How

When I first started doing this ‘eat local’ project, what struck me the most was how little I knew about feeding myself.  Indeed, without multinational corporations, I – and most of us – would starve in short order.  Our entire food system is controlled by multinationals; we have relinquished not only our ability to feed ourselves, but the knowledge around how to do so as well.  So when I first started eating local, I was really engaged in the basics.  First, where do I get food if not from a grocery store?  Buy it from farmers?  Grow it myself?  I have been trying both, with much greater success with the former than the latter.  (although maybe this season will be different…)

Next, how do I prepare it?  Cooking has never been my strong point, so this has actually been quite a challenge for me.  And I know I’m not alone.  I recall one farmer lamenting that not only does she have to grow and harvest food, bring it to market and sell it, but she also has to teach people how to prepare it for eating!  Many market vendors now include recipes on their tables so their customers will know what to do with their products.  

Third, how do I store this food?  Freezing was a bust, and so was root cellaring without a root cellar.  I will do a little more canning this year (preserves are nice but don’t offer much in the way of substantial food).  But overall, I am going to have be very reliant on others yet again this winter.  Fortunately there’s a fall-winter CSA opening up with a good root cellar.  That should help a lot as clearly in my current house, I just can’t keep food properly over winter.  I’ll bet most new houses don’t have root cellars, something that may change if this food crisis deepens and pervades.

Overall, starting to eat local left me feeling very dumb.  As my knowledge level has improved, that feeling has lifted somewhat.  Now I’m mostly feeling inadequate and frustrated, and strongly desiring more property and a root cellar!  All in good time, I keep telling myself.  But I have never been known for my patience.  This hasn’t been helped by spending quite a bit of time on farms of late, mostly drooling over the space, the barns, the animals, and the energy of country living.  I think this city girl is going to make a big change in the not too distant future.  But in the meantime, I’m doing my best to learn as much as I can about how to be more self-sufficient around food.  

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4 Responses

  1. There is so much around here about seasonal cooking and so on. I’m not sure if it would be relevant to you, but one cook book writer is Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall whose recipes are available on-line. He owns a place calls the River Cottage and it is aiming to become self-sufficient (ish) growing their own vegetables and raising their own animals:
    http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/foodanddrink/hughfearnleywhittingstall/0,,1880711,00.html

  2. You might be interested in one of the food writers for the Guardian, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall as he runs a place called River Cottage where the aim is to become self-sufficient (ish). He has good recipes for seasonal food, the last one with radishes!

    http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/foodanddrink/hughfearnleywhittingstall/story/0,,2278768,00.html

  3. Thanks for the link! I just book marked it. I have been getting a handful of radishes in my weekly CSA organic box and have had no idea what to do with them. I’ll definitely look into that recipe!

  4. Oops, sorry I posted twice. I thought that the first one didn’t work. (I have a slightly twitchy mouse finger.)

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