Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

Have you hugged a tree today?

So here in the Land of Bean, we have been experimenting with some twists on living green. Switched over to compact fluorescents. Installed a new insulated garage door. We’ve been recycling and composting for awhile, but I’ll admit that more out of necessity than a desire to be kind to the planet: here in the rural outskirts of North Coast Metroland, we pay by the can for garbage removal, and they don’t take yard waste.

But Mr. Bean, the Bug and I have been experimenting with eating within 100 miles of our home. I am finding this to be a bigger challenge than expected, not so much because we are lacking in locally-grown and produced food choices, but because it’s darned difficult sometimes to figure out where our food is actually produced!!

We’re lucky in some ways: The West Side Market has a fabulous selection of locally grown and produced meats and meat products, and if you are willing to regularly show up before 7:30 on Saturday mornings, unshowered (I find the unshowered part is essential; they won't talk to you if you've taken time to apply cosmetics), you can eventually build enough “cred” with the vendors that they will give you their “real” addresses and phone numbers so you can get really really fresh beef and chicken and lamb and other lovely delicacies. You can get locally baked breads and cakes, locally-made cheese and wine, and locally roasted coffee. (Before you say something, I know that they don’t grow coffee within 100 miles of my house. Look; I at least try to stick to shade grown and fair trade. I’m not giving up coffee. End of discussion.)

Produce is another matter. I like fresh vegetables. A lot. There is quite a bit I can grow under cold frame for much of the winter, but clearly not enough to keep us happy and healthy. So I try to compromise. I look for produce that is at least grown in the US or southern Canada (I’m amazed at the quality of the hothouse cucumbers and tomatoes that are coming out of Ontario). But it’s really tough to tell sometimes. Witness the following exchange I had on Saturday at the Market:

Me: Are these grapes from California?
Vendor: Yes
Me: OK; I’ll take that bunch there.

As he’s packing up the grapes, I notice the empty crates behind him that say “Product of Chile” on them.

Me: I thought you said these were California grapes?
Vendor: Yes
Me: But the box behind you says “Chile” on it.
Vendor: Yes
Me: So they’re not from California.
Vendor: Yes

Me: You don’t speak English, do you?
Vendor: Two Dollah

Alrighty then.

I think grapes will have to come off the list until the local vineyards ripen in August…


winter said...

Chile, California, Parador - really, it's all the same. We are all children of Iluvatar and the swan, are we not?

zmcjwk - Avant-garde Eastern European musicians' collective dedicated to exploring the possibilities of Thai jazz-polka fusion metal.

Christine Borne said...

I wish I could tell you the name of the vendor, but the best local grapes come from the guy with the salt-and-pepper beard on the south wing of the produce market (the part with the flowers and fudge). Last year he had beautiful Concord grapes until December.

Beanie said...

Welcome Christine! Glad to see a neighbor stop by.

Actually, being a far, faaaaaaar west-sider, I have a half-dozen vinyards within a 20-minute drive of the house.

Plus the neighbors down the road are trying their hand at growing merlot grapes. We'll see how that goes. ;)

But I'll try the flower guy. I know exactly who you mean.

rebecca said...

two dollah.

i love your blog.

living close to eden, ny (15 minutes) known for corn grown there (as well as many other things) i feel lucky. even if i can't eat the dang corn. soon they'll be using that machine that shoots manure on pastures. smells heavenly (ha! no.) but we have a great co-op that my neice works in. starts up soon with more veggies (corn, leeks, broccoli, lettuces, cabbage, etc. etc. etc.) than we can possibly eat just ourselves, so come visit.