Saturday, November 01, 2008

Breaking the Fast

I woke up this morning and realized today was November 1st, that the month-long Eat Local Challenge was officially over, and that I could officially eat anything I wanted again. Other than the, ahem, handfuls of Halloween candy that I swiped from my son's stash though, I figured out quickly enough that today wasn't going to be the free-for-all that one might expect. Like ending a fast, it seems almost vulgar to go and get hog-wild now. (I have desperately missed homemade granola though, and plan to whip up a batch just as soon as I get a chance).

Spending an entire month being so completely mindful of every bite I consumed and most specifically it's provenance, even for someone who eats fairly locally to begin with, has firmly engendered a level of awareness in which it has become second nature to eat well. And eating well encompasses so much more than just healthfulness.

I would like to avoid stomping back up atop my soapbox, because if you've spent any time around me or just lurking about in my blog, then you have already heard enough of my preaching regarding eating locally, eating organically, eating sustainably, eating ethically. Let's just suffice to say that I want to make the world a better place for my children. I want to share with them values that include being conscious of our impact on the physical environment. I yearn for them to meet the farmers who provide their food and to be aware of exactly where food comes from, and I desperately want to protect them from harmful pesticides, hormones and antibiotics, mercury, lead and all the other truly scary non-foods that are showing up in the world's supposed food system.

But that's enough of that, right? We're all clear on where I stand on this issue. This blog is the journal of our family's exploits in eating, not a compendium of Sarah's sermons on moral repasts.

Oh, I know. I'm just kidding myself when I say that. Maybe I should change this blog's title, come to think of it, to Recipes for a Moral Repast. But then you guys might just commit me for good, and never try another of these recipes that I so excitedly bring here to share. So, you know, moving right along then...

I did break our fast today, but I did so in a gentle fashion. My sister-in-law and my nephews were coming over to watch football with The Carnivore, and black bean chile seemed like an ideal companion to their silly game. As far as I can tell, black beans cannot be sourced locally, and making my own corn tortillas in order to scratch up my own personal tortilla chips is far-fetched even for me, so I didn't plan this to be a strictly local meal. Prior to this past month though, I might have been content to reach into the pantry and grab cans of beans, diced tomatoes and corn to make this, but I found that the biggest lesson of the month, the one thing I am sure will stick long after the novelty of participating in the Eat Local Challenge has passed, is that I am capable of planning ahead and striving to make every meal as local as possible before then, and only then, supplementing with non-local items.

So yesterday, before committing to a set-in-stone menu for today, I surveyed what I had on hand. For the chile, I set dried beans to soaking. While the beans are far from local, dried beans have much less of an environmental impact than canned ones (and they are light years less expensive), so a little advance planning is worth the trouble. I also reached into the freezer and started defrosting some tomatoes that I had frozen during the summer and portioned into 14.5-oz servings (to be used as a direct substitute for cans). The onions, garlic and bell pepper were on hand already from jaunts to the farmer's market, as were green and red tomatoes, jalapenos and cilantro which I used to whip up a batch of salsa to serve with the chile.

Tortilla chips were purchased from the supermarket as was a bag of frozen organic corn to go into the chile. Every meal will not be 100% local, but we'll do what we can. My goal here is to be mindful. That has been a goal of mine for years, actually, in ways other than just eating and purchasing food, but works almost universally in conjunction with the way I want to live my life. Training myself to take the time to truly think about the things I do, the things I eat, and even the things I say (though that particular action is by far the most challenging) is how I keep from being overwhelmed by all that I can and cannot do to, dare I say it, change the world.


Cindy said...

Keep preaching Sister...You can change the world, one mama at a time.

Suzanne Anderson said...

What a wonderful month of eating mindfully. How nourishing, in so many ways.

Jen said...

:) Your mom makes a point--over the past month I've done some research while watching you eat local and it has changed some of the foods that I buy for our family.

We still live in an area without a CSA in sight and the only crops are chili peppers and pecans--but I can look at the entire large state of Texas--rather than our dry region and neighboring California for more of our choices.

Sarah Beam said...

Jen, that is wonderful news. Eating locally can be as subjective as need be, too. I typically try to eat within my region (which I consider to be about three states). It may not be ideal, but it is a big step from eating most of my produce from other countries. I tend to think about each item: if it isn't available in my hometown, then I look to the rest of the state, then to the region, then to the country, and then, if only available from other countries, I think long and hard about whether I need the item at all.