Thursday, January 21, 2010

Happy New Year!

Yes, I know it’s almost the end of the month already but in my usual procrastinator’s manner, I’m way behind.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about this blog and I think I will be making a few changes in direction. I’ve always wanted to write about what I think modern Home Economics is, but was unsure how to focus my efforts. Simply put, Home Economics is the care and management of your home and family.

I had originally wanted to share tips and information, from past and present, on the topic of running a household. More recently an interest of mine has turned into a compulsion. This year I am going to try to be a locavore. A slow-food eater. A sustainable gardener. An active member in my community. This could be a rather large undertaking but it is very important to me so I hope it will “stick”. By this I mean I hope it’s not another one of my big ideas that I’m passionate about for 6-12 months then move on. I want this to become part of our lives. Perhaps by sharing my goals with you it will add some accountability.

This means that running my household will now be a lot more hands-on. I will try growing more food (I am a procrastinator and a lazy gardener. Not a good combo for this) and eating what’s in season (that means no more imported winter tomatoes from Mexico! gulp). Exploring more regional foods (seafood!). It means paying more attention to what’s in packaged foods and educating myself on how foods are manufactured and processed.

I’m going to take baby steps. Not everything will be possible but we will make small changes where we can (buying Washington wines instead of our usual Yellow Tail). I plan on spending the whole year easing into this, not jumping in head first right away. Perhaps some of you will join me. I hope many of you already have and can share your experiences.

At the risk of boring you before I even get started, here are the basic tenets I’m going to try and follow (from the Locavores website):

If not LOCALLY PRODUCED, then Organic. This is one of the most readily available alternatives in the market and making this choice protects the environment and your body from harsh chemicals and hormones.

If not ORGANIC, then Family farm. When faced with Kraft or Cabot cheeses, Cabot, a dairy co-op in Vermont, is the better choice. Supporting family farms helps to keep food processing decisions out of the hands of corporate conglomeration.

If not FAMILY FARM, then Local business. Basics like coffee and bread make buying local difficult. Try a local coffee shop or bakery to keep your food dollar close to home.

If not a LOCAL BUSINESS, then Terroir, which means 'taste of the Earth'. Purchase foods famous for the region they are grown in and support the agriculture that produces your favorite non-local foods such as Brie cheese from Brie, France or parmesan cheese from Parma, Italy.

Hit the farmers' market before the supermarket. Plan your meal around local ingredients you find at the market.

Branch out. Maybe your usual food repertoire could use some fresh ideas. The farmers' market provides a perfect chance to try a new ingredient when it's in season, and lets you talk to its grower to find out the best way to prepare your new food. Flirt with your food producer!

Feed the freezer. Can't cook every night? Worried about your fresh produce going bad? It's easy. Make lasagna with local tomatoes or a soup packed with fresh veggies and freeze it! You can also make personal size meals for a brown bag lunch.

Go out! Many area restaurants emphasize local foods in their dishes. Ask around, you might be surprised how many options you find that serve up local flavor.