Monday, September 29, 2008

Bailey's Buying Club Oct 3

Hello all you eaters of this land,

Did you see those beautiful purple marbled bean pods on the
spontaneous table on Friday? Those are French Horticultural Beans,
I've learned. Never had them before. On Saturday Mona and I shelled
them (she, quite fast for a three year old) and talked about how
pretty they are and how they don't taste good now but we'll see what
they taste like after boiling and adding butter and salt. They were
lovely! They reminded me of the fava beans my Polish friends would
make and take on picnics. They'd boil them, salt them and then just
take them along like we take carrot sticks. Or potato chips. The beans
from Paul (French Horticultural is such a long name) lost their
stunning beauty in the boiling but we ate them with pasta and tomato
sauce and everyone at the table liked them. Eating those got me
excited for the dry beans we'll be getting from a farmer near St.
Mary's Oct 31. He has a wide variety. More beans, less meat. That's
the way to eat more sustainably, we know. Maybe we can swap favourite
bean recipes for inspiration. Email me a paragraph describing your
favourite easy bean recipe and I'll choose a couple to include in one
of these emails.

We also get to order foods from the Simcoe area this week. Simcoe
was/is a big tobacco growing area where farmers have been looking for
alternatives to tobacco. They have acres and acres of ginseng now (but
what would we do with it?) and a few creative and brave farmers are
branching out into crops like popcorn and peanuts. They have lighter
soils than this area, I hear, and are a bit more temperate because
they are so close to Lake Erie. This is the area I also found the
farmer who sells that lovely golden canola oil we got to try the end
of August. If you want to see that website again, it is .

From Simcoe we also have found farmers who sell sparkling apple ciders
(all-juice bubbly beverages with no sugar added) and an amazing black
currant jam. Consider buying a case of the sparkling ciders and
pulling them out for festive occasions. It's cheaper than wine...
Okay, I have to tell you about the black currant farmer. Russell
Blake is a teacher who has planted over nine acres of black currants
and spent the last few years figuring out how to harvest and freeze
them. He uses a blueberry picker that shakes the bushes and a conveyor
sorter where he and his kids sort out the blemished ones and leaves.
Have you ever picked black currants? Their little stems hang on tight
and are a huge chore to pick off. He figured out that if he freezes
them and then dumps them into a milk crate and shakes it a few times,
the frozen stiff stems break off and fall through the holes of the
milk crate. Ingenious! This cuts down on the costs of labour
tremendously. He sells them frozen or as jam. His jam is chuck full of
premium currants. The ingredients are: black currants, sugar and lemon
juice. Consider buying a case of jam (cheaper that way) and having
them on hand for a little gift when you wish you had one.

From Simcoe we also are lucky to get peanuts and peanut butter. Ernie
and Nancy Racz are the farmers, peanut-processors and retailers of
their lovely valencia peanut butter. They are not organic but they do
not use fungicides at all (unlike the peanut growers in the southern
US). I like this peanut butter much better than Picards. It is
creamier. No salt added. Just peanuts. If you know your family eats
peanut butter well, stock up now. We will probably not go to Simcoe
again until after Christmas.

This week we have the last of the last Niagara fruits. Look for
Bartlett pears, Bosc pears, Blue plums, green table grapes, blue table
grapes and wine grapes on the order form. I'll have a a few plums on
the spontaneous table. We also have conventional or organic MacIntosh
apples this week. They are good for saucing or fresh eating. I have
conventional Macs in half bushels. I hope to find an organic apple
orchard or two in the area from which to buy. If you can recommend
one, let me know.

Turns out, only the spelt bread and cookies were made with local flour
last week. There was a mix up and the Bread and Bretzel did not have
the right kind of flour to make whole wheat bread for us. This week
Karen says it really will happen. Prices are changing for the breads
with Oak Manor Farms flour in them because it is organic and local and
costs three times as much as what Karen was using before. If you want
to support a local baker, local mill, and local organic grain farmers
(and a local buying club), we now offer bread that lets you do all
this. I don't know of any other bakery in the area that offers local
wheat breads. The spelt cookies were especially toasted-tasting and
very delicious. Now, if I could just get Karen to use local raspberry

One way buying locally is different from shopping globally is that we
can't expect retailers or Bailey's Buying Club to carry a steady
supply for us to buy whenever we want. We have to think ahead a wee
bit and stock up on things when we are able. I'm not set up to
warehouse a four month supply of peanut butter, jam, and canola oil
for 100 families, for example. It also doesn't make environmental
sense for my dad to drive to Simcoe for food every month or so with a
half-full van. Now is your chance to estimate how much you'll use of
these items in the next four months (or more) and stock up. These
items are what I call "less perishables". They have a long enough
shelf life (at least a year) so that you can buy a bulk amount of it
and use it steadily over the months. This means a higher upfront cost,
but a lower cost over all. It also means less packaging. Even if you
don't have a large pantry, it is easy enough to store a few boxes or
buckets in the basement or under a bed.

I was thinking that in the deep and dark of Winter we could all submit
photos of our food stores and I could put them on my website for an
inspiring photo gallery of local food. I should take a photo of
Miriam Gingrich's basement. She cans their applesauce in gallon jars!
Row after row! Elmeda, who we are buying the MacIntosh Apples from
said that every year she turns 50 bushels of apples into applesauce
for her family (only five children)! Can you imagine ordering 50
bushels (not half bushels) of apples for me and turning those into
applesauce??!! Kind of makes my canning efforts look puny. Or at least
something I should stop complaining about : )

It's going to frost any week now so enjoy the last of summer's tender bounty.

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