Last June, I retired from my job of 32 years and took the summer off to enjoy gardening. As a “foodie” and charter member of Calvert Eats Local, I decided to take the Buy Local Challenge in July. However, I took a radical approach to the Challenge!
The Buy Local Challenge asks people to make a pledge to include local products (produce, eggs, meat, fruit, wine, etc.) in our meals for one week (to learn more, go to www.buy-local-challenge.com). Just a decade ago, taking the pledge in Southern Maryland might have been considered a dangerous diet plan! There simply were not many farmers, stores, or restaurants selling locally sourced food. Thankfully, things have changed. There are now:
• 30+ farmers markets in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s, and St. Mary’s counties (Check out the Southern Maryland Farmer’s Market Guide)
• 24 farmers selling local meat (check out the Southern Maryland Meats Guide)
• 8 Southern Maryland wineries
• 32 restaurants and caterers that feature local farm products.
• 17 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operations
Last year, the ‘Challenge’ was an adventure for me because I decided to eat ONLY local foods for one week (with just a few cheats such as coffee, yeast, olive oil, and salt). After mentioning at least ten times that I was crazy, my wife helped me find local replacements for most of my staple foods. The week before, we stocked up with items not available from the garden, by going to the North Beach Farmers Market and our favorite road-side stand on Broomes Island Road. I got flour for bread from White Cliff Farm in Prince Frederick and I picked up yogurt at a stand on the Eastern Shore when we were returning from a trip.
Then came the first day. I realized that I hadn’t found local milk and wanted scrambled eggs. Solution–I mixed water and yogurt! When I made my favorite muffins, I remembered that the recipe included raisins. Solution – replaced raisins with blueberries. As the days proceeded, I realized that I often had to innovate, with reasonable success. When we went out to eat at local restaurants featured in the Southern Maryland Farm Guide, I found that most would have some local food, but not all. So again, I was creative with my order!
After the week was over and we spent some time travelling, we asked about restaurants using locally sourced food. We found Frederick, Maryland to be a great town for ‘local’ and other places, not so much.
Could you find local food products to eat every day of the week? Is that perfect locally sourced restaurant just around the corner? Could you live for a whole week just on locally sourced food, my own version of “going rogue”?
Try it either way! Participate in the Challenge. Do it with a friend and create your own culinary adventure!