Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bailey's Buying Club - Ordering is now open for December 21, 2009

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Hi Local Buying Club Members,
What are your food traditions during the holidays? Do local foods fit in?

I'm looking forward to mashed sweet potatoes with the Crema Fresca from Amarjit. Amarjit, owner of Local Dairy Products, is a cheese maker from Ingersoll who makes an amazing array of local cheeses and creams including Paneer, Queso Fresco, Queso Duro-Blando, and Crema la VaQuita. Paneer is that unique Indian cheese that does not melt and is perfect in soups, and curries or on salads. It's low fat too. The Queso Fresco is a Latino cheese that I've enjoyed at Mexican restaurants and am eager to try it on tacos, nachos and fajitas at home. I'm not sure how the Crema la VaQuita (cream from the little cow?) and the Crema Fresca are different. I'll have to try them both and compare. I'm hoping that one of them tastes like the cream that my host family in Guatemala City served us with refried beans and crusty french bread. We'd have a simple supper where we'd gleefully tear into the loaves of bread and dip them into the beans and into the cream. They were thrilled that the gringa liked it. Like it? I couldn't stop eating it! Maybe my kids will love it too and it can become a new family favourite.

New Yogurt, Creams and Cheeses from Local Dairy Products

Amarjit says that the finest chefs in Toronto use his Crema Fresca for making cream sauces (it doesn't boil out) and he suggests eating it with fruit or on nachos. Amarjit also makes the line of Perth County Yogurts (who knew!) so we can offer those too. These are made with fresh milk and only milk powder is added to help it thicken (no gelatin or whatever else). He says they only offer plain so that customers can add the fruit and sweetener that they want. He describes the yogurt as smooth and claims the 2% tastes like whole milk yogurt.

Now Turkey Breasts, Thighs, Wings...

Our turkey farmer Kevin Snyder just told me that he has turkey parts for us now, not just whole turkeys! In October I was encouraging him to get his birds cut into smaller parts for people who like to eat turkey meat but do not want to make a big production of it. He said it was just too complicated to find a butcher who would do it. Now he tells me he has boneless turkey breasts, boneless thighs (and bone in) and more! He does not like that he has to drive to Listowel to a processor there to who will cut the birds into smaller pieces but the ground turkey he got is already sold out. He promises to get more so we can offer it in the new year. So now we have super-convenient boneless turkey thighs and breasts. What are you going to cook? I was thinking fajitas. If I put Amarjit's cream in there, pick up some hot house sweet red peppers, and use Doug McKechnie's whole wheat tortillas it would be super local and SUPER delicious!

Planning for 2010?
Erma (baker of maple tarts and the farmer who grows a lot of our fresh herbs) called me this morning at about 8am to ask what I want her to grow and preserve for us next year. Uh, 2009 is not over yet, how can I have a plan for 2010?? So that is my nudge to start planning and estimating for 2010. How much cilantro do you plan to eat in 2010? We'd like to offer two pick-up days next year - preferably a Tuesday and a Friday. We're working on figuring out where to hold the Tuesday one. If you have a church near you with a ground-floor gymnasium and you think the neighbourhood around the church would be keen to buy local food, let us know.

Kim Chi Meal idea
We had an odd meal tonight but everyone liked it. I planned the meal around a big jar of mild Kim Chi (made by Rachael and Andrew). So, what goes with spicy fermented cabbage? Hot dogs, of course. I broiled hot dogs, made a pan of baked beans (not really baked but had molasses in it), and cheesy noodles. The flavours all worked together well. My kids preferred the fresh chinese cabbage salad but the adults all dug into the Kim Chi. Besides that we've been eating soup soup and more soup. Matthew made a vat of butternut squash soup that had the perfect bite in the back of the throat after I swallowed. It nursed me back to strength after a 24hr flu on Monday. He made it thinner than I'm used to but I liked it that way. 

Masters of Local Eating is the ticket to happiness?
I was talking to a researcher today about why Waterloo Region is a leader in the shift to relocalize the food system. She asked me why I started this buying club. Three reasons:
  1. I wanted to make it easier for urban families like mine to eat a higher percent of local food. I was trying to source more local food for my family and it was TOO MUCH WORK and too much driving around.
  2. I wanted to calm my anxiety about our vulnerable food system (we'd run out of food in three days if the borders closed) and knew this would be a way to encourage local farmers to grow and store more people food.
  3. I saw local food as a way to "save the world".
I don't think that buying local food will really right all the injustices of the world but buying local food saves me from paralysis and depression in the face of climate change, peak oil, economic recessions, and so on. I figure if it saves me from going numb or being paralyzed by anxiety then it might have positive effects on others too. When it feels that nothing I do matters, I hold onto the fact that eating local really DOES matter. It matters to Paul and Saloma and their family who now know that their children can make a living growing organic people food rather than having to go to the city to survive. It matters to Perry who is working hard to source and mill local organic flours for us so I can't stop buying or he may go out of business and then we'll have to drive another 40 minutes further away to find locally milled grains. It matters to our local economy. It matters because it heals the land when I buy from sustainable farms. Local food has so many positive ripple effects. Why would I NOT eat as much local food as I easily can?

What if eating 25% or more local food is like a Masters degree. You don't have to pay tuition and yet you will learn an enormous amount (about your food, farming, seasons, local food culture, and probably get to know your neighbours better). This Masters of Local Eating opens doors for you that would not open before. Suddenly you see connections between things that you did not see before. You find yourself part of a community of local eaters and far from alone. The Masters of Local Eating means that not only are you more food secure, you're also more job secure as local food creates many "green jobs". The Masters of Local Eating is your ticket to open doors, new learning, more security and maybe increased happiness as you savour the simple joys of good eating and your whole community's anxiety levels decrease from knowing that there is enough good local food for all.

Bread Bakers
Are any of you bread bakers who want to bake bread for our buying club (crusty loaves, not soft squishy loaves)? You need to make the bread in an inspected kitchen (maybe that Rise and Shine Bagel place on Bridgeport will rent out their kitchen). If you know of someone who will use local flour to make us bread for our pick up days, please let me know.

Speaking of bakers, Lindsay is baking us a few Holiday treats. Check out his Christmas Fruit Cake (a rich and flavourful rum cake; heavy with fruit and nuts), his Italian Style Panettone (a citrus scented yeasted loaf; rich with eggs and butter) and little Gingerbread People.

Running out of Local Root Crops Already?
Do you realize that we are nearly out of locally stored squash, carrots and possibly cabbage?  Next year I hope the farmers will store more for us because they now know that we are here (they need to plant enough seeds in the Spring to store the harvest in the Fall) and that we will buy all they can store throughout the Winter.  I'm so thankful we have Pfennings and their big storage facility near New Hamburg!  Angie Koch of Fertile Grounds CSA is digging carrots for us in the next week or two.  She does not have a vegetable washing machine so the carrots will come to you with the Good Earth still clinging to them.  If you are storing them for a month or two, do not wash them. If you will eat them in the next 2-3 weeks, I suggest filling a big bowl with water and washing them all at once. You can then put them in your fridge cleaned and ready to eat. (note from Rachael - When I talked to Noah from Traditional Foods the other night he talked about using the laundry machine to wash veggies in a pinch!)

On the order form look for:
  • Turkey parts (raised without hormones or drugs or animal by-products)
  • new cheese (soon - we need a few more details)
  • new creams and yogurts
  • specialty chocolates (some local ingredients and made in Kitchener but, no, the cocoa is not local)
  • frozen "Strawberry Goose" from Paul (these geese weeded the strawberry patch this summer)
  • organic popcorn - in a 'sugar sack'
  • sparkling ciders
  • frozen pureed squash from Lena (in the 'other' section)
Thank you for choosing to support local farmers and local food processors.
Thank you for choosing hope,
Bailey's Local Foods
P.S. We can use your fruit baskets and jars from preserves again if you return them.


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