Well, the February Farm Food project is over. Our meat still comes from Chestnut Farms, like it does every month, and we still receive our regular vegetable CSA delivery – at least for one more week. Then we don’t have vegetable CSA produce again until probably June: that is the way of New England! But we have Farmers To You to fill in the gaps, and of course now again, Whole Foods! The first day off the project, our shopping cart was filled to the brim with GREEN. Every green thing, tomato, and berry that was for sale was in our cart, not to mention beautiful mushrooms! (and for the sake of full disclosure, not a small amount of chocolate!)
Here are some final thoughts on the project – not exactly final, because the experience was so good I think we’ll do it again some more! But some final-to-this-round, anyway:
February made me extra grateful for some simple things. Apple cider is a treat we rarely have “in real life”, but it was so wonderful to enjoy during this project, particularly tasty as a cocktail with fresh pressed cranberry juice! I felt grateful for the sweetness and acidity of the mix, especially with so much heavy winter food. Also, surprising pickle relish! Farmers To You partner Claire’s Country Garden grew all the stuff, and relished it, and now we relish it! Exciting condiments make such a difference, and we had a lot of fun having hamburgers (without their usual lettuce wraps) with pickle relish on them.
At some point it occurred to us to try Sugar on Snow. Given how abundant our snow was, I’m not sure why it took us so long to think of it. In general we don’t eat much sugar, but we had a friend over and wanted to do something special and suddenly Amber said – Sugar on Snow, so we did! It’s definitely not an every-day kind of treat, but it was a lot of fun when we did it.
We really felt the lack of snack foods. After a while, we’d eaten just about as many carrot sticks and apple slices as we could, and we were craving something different. Dried apples – another why-didn’t-we-think-of-that-sooner item! Paired with jerky, that would have been the perfect snack solution, except that we never had enough meat to make jerky. For future projects, we’ll be sure to plan ahead, just in case of Snowpocalypse.
Hm. I’ll just note that all those things are things that contain sugar. Interesting!
I think the thing I enjoyed most about the project was that each and every time we received food throughout the month, we felt such immense gratitude, and downright joy just at having food. Eating local doesn’t mean that you can’t have enough food, but eating local in a month with ridiculous amounts of record breaking snow and lots of CSA pick-ups cancelled kind of does. I’m sure that doing this project in July or August, or even in a winter month with far less snow and cancellation, would not necessarily have had this aspect of scarcity, but I was grateful for it. And being so tuned in to how the weather was affecting our food availability meant that I was watching and noticing the week we finally could have TWO dozen eggs – because suddenly the days were longer and the hens started laying more eggs! When we used to farm, this was always a sign that despite the remaining piles of snow and the still-not-budding trees, spring had definitely sprung. It was wonderful to have that assurance here in the city, while we were still walking in snow tunnels up to my shoulders!
Of course like any time of scarcity, the first few days afterwards were feasts of unusual proportions – and the accompanying feeling of over-fullness! That experience has made me really aware of how I think about scarcity and “enough-ness” – even the days when we were really stretching our foods to get by, we did actually always have enough. We often had no variety, but we had enough food.
I noticed that once we could eat out-of-season/not-local things, our portion sizes increased. That’s an interesting thing to think about – could it be that eating things that are out of synch with Cycle disrupts our bodies’ understandings of what is enough? Certainly the increase in sugar that happened those first few days played a big role in that disruption, and it was really easy to see how differently we responded to organic-but-carby “treat” foods, which had sugar and/or gluten free grains versus local, in-season carby foods such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and apples, and even maple syrup. Invariably, we overate the “treat” foods, even though local in season carbs had not caused that reaction. (Not even the Sugar on Snow, actually! It was delicious, but we could each only eat a small amount.)
All in all, this was a really fantastic experience. We’ve reduced the treats back to a minimum, and once Amber’s birthday is passed at the end of the month, I expect to return to very simple eating, if not exactly 100% local due to the disruption in local vegetable availability. Our dietary style was already fairly simple, and while we were on the project I definitely allowed myself to feel deprived. But since it ended I’ve realized that I felt much better than I do now – I ate more reasonable portions and far less sugar (which is saying something for a family that really doesn’t eat much sugar!). I think I’ll be quite happy to stick to what we can get locally from now on!
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