My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


Tantrums, Steve Martin & Homemade Pasta: Midway Thru the Localvore Challenge

Posted on September 22, 2009 by crankycheryl


[originally posted at]

When people were first telling me about eating local, I liked when I heard about this concept of “wild cards,” which meant that, yes, the food would be essentially what was grown within 100 miles, but that I could make exceptions.  Like coffee.  Olive oil.  Bananas.  Chocolate. Maybe citrus.  Probably spices.

The list kept growing.  I began to get like Navin in The Jerk:

I don’t need anything except this.

[picks up an ashtray]

And that’s it and that’s the only thing I need, is this. I don’t need this or this. Just this ashtray.

And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that’s all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that’s all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that’s all I need. And that’s all I need too. I don’t need one other thing, not one – I need this. The paddle game, and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches, for sure.

And this.   And that’s all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, this magazine and the chair.

[walking outside]

And I don’t need one other thing, except my dog.

[dog barks]

I don’t need my dog.

There were just too many things I would have started to negotiate for, yes, even for just one week, so I tried to simplify.   We picked the most essential things: peanut butter (all of us), frosted shredded wheat (6 y.o.), canned peaches (4 y.o.) and coffee (me, but it really is for the greater good).  And the rest, to the best of our abilities, is food “grown by our neighbors.”

It’s providing limitless Fascinating Explanations and Interesting Facts, like:

I see from how you’re lying on the floor screaming that the butterscotch pudding isn’t what you wanted.  You probably wanted chocolate, right?  Well, did you know that chocolate comes from a big yellow fruit?  And that that fruit – it’s called cacao – only grows in very warm places?  Did Mommy ever tell you about when she went to live in a tent in a place called Belize and helped harvest chocolate in the jungle …

Riveting stuff, I assure you.

But for many of us, the food day was pretty darn good.  It was those yummy waffles with maple syrup for breakfast (mine was burnt and slathered with homemade jam before being wolfed down on the way to a.m. drop-offs), Does’ Leap goat Caprella, Plum Hill farm plums, and homemade-with-Gleason-Grains whole wheat sourdough bread for grown-up lunch.

Dinner was homemade-no-machine-needed whole wheat pasta for dinner, also made with Gleason Grains bread flour, cooked, drained, buttered, and tossed with Vermont Butter & Cheese chevre, wilted swiss chard, and halved grape tomatoes from the garden.  Some of us had the aforementioned butterscotch pudding for dessert, while others elected to have pure localvore temper tantrums instead.  We go on.

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  • melissa pasanen

    you are funny, girl. My 12 and 14-year-olds are mostly hanging in there when at home, but I’m being pretty liberal with the out-of-house wild cards like a school lunch or two – younger is definitely harder. My 14-year-old says he misses crunchy snacks. (Apples don’t count.) Like pretzels, almonds, tortilla chips. Ever made localvore tortillas…?

  • Thanks for stopping by, Melissa! I haven’t gotten myself to the point of counting what the kids do or don’t do as far as the challenge is concerned. What about popcorn? Last year I remember there being local stuff around. Cheddar crackers? I’ve never made tortillas but masa wouldn’t be local anyway, right?

  • I think that there is something to be said for this, but on the other hand, there has to be room for the reality of what is available. I am in CT. Year around, my fruits and veg are 100% local. No packaged food at all. My beans are 100% local. While there are some grains grown within my 100 mile radius, due to health conditions, I can’t eat those. I need to eat a gluten-free diet. So – unless I go without any sort of grains – they are not going to be local. I make my own gluten-free bread, but the grains are from the midwest.

    And what about those people who just don’t have grain within their area? There are such people, many of them. I don’t think they should be scolded as “not good enough” or “cheaters” for doing the best they can. Supporting our local communities is important, but looking down on others and saying that too many exceptions are made seems inappropriate. For the people who do what they can by looking to local produce when possible, but still having some things from “elsewhere”, they are still making a contribution. What would you say for people who don’t have the space for storage to eat locally when there is no available food (i.e the local growing season is over)? What would you say for someone like me who needs to eat grains from “elsewhere”? What would you say for someone who eats local winter squash and makes sure not to eat eggplant from Holland, but still has yogurt from a family farm 300 miles away? And what about the person who reaches for local carrots and apples when they are there, goes picking for local veg, but has a banana once a day? Do you look down on them as running down the slippery slope you describe in this post?

    I know this is quite the rant, and I truely don’t mean to be offensive. But this post just struck a bad nerve with me. Even though I am primarily local, I feel strongly that there is more to be said for doing the best one can – or the best that one is comfortable with at the time, as long as the awareness is there of the reasons to eat what he/she can in a sustainable way that supports worthwhile communities. One should not look down on another, and – while I know this post does not do that explicitly – a lot of the undertone in it seems very pointed, in a negative way that I cannot agree with.

  • Thanks for stopping by, Mangochild!

    I agree with all of your rant, really. No offense taken at all. This post was put up during our EatLocalVT challenge, where I was blogging on their website (there’s a link in the original post) about trying to feed my family for 7 days with food from within the 100-mile zone stipulated in the “rules.” Any reference to said rules, or guilt, or good/bad is strictly within the framework of the one-week challenge, not usual life.

    For those of us here in New England (and lots of other places, for sure), there is totally no way that we could eat locally year-round. Like you, I do what I can … when it’s available, when it’s affordable, and when it isn’t torturous. We eat avocados, bananas, coffee, chocolate, lots of other things from far away.

    But we do try to get as much local as we can. We’re lucky that we grow grain and soy and lots of fruits and vegetables, and of course all the dairy you can shake a stick at, close by. We’re lucky to have a great CSA farm just a couple of miles from our house. I don’t take it lightly, and I could never take issue with folks who have to make different choices, for reasons of cost or availability or practicality. We don’t have a lot of money either, and eating even partly local means choosing what we can do. Yesterday at our farmers’ market I saw sausage for $8/lb. Holy cow! How could the average family afford that? And what about people without an extra freezer or space to store foods they can in season?

    I appreciate what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to comment.

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