Cookbooks for the Homestead Kitchen
Here’s a list of some of our favorite whole foods, seasonal, and local foods cookbooks for inspiration! Many of these could be found at your local library.
The River Cottage Year by Hugh Fearnley-Whittenstall
Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmer’s Markets by Deborah Madison
Eating Close to Home: A Guide to Local Seasonal Sustenance in the Pacific Northwest by Elin England
The Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown
Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cooking
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Putting Food By Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg, and Beatrice Vaughan
The More with Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre
Feeding the Whole Family: Recipes for Babies, Young Children, and their Parents by Cynthia Lair
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz
Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health by The Moosewood Collective
Eating Local Foods Mini-Course
What is local food?
Let’s start answering this question by say what local food is not:
- Local food is not an “us versus them” mentality where we buy locally because of a dislike for people outside of our community.
- Local food is not a strict way of eating that induces guilty feelings for “cheating”
- Local food is not only buying food with a specific label
- Local food is not a boring (and unhealthy) diet of salad all summer and potatoes all winter
Okay, enough of that negativity! Here is what local food is:
- Local food is eating food seasonally and from regional sources
- Local food is about getting to know the farmers in your community
- Local food supports farmers near and far by investing in sustainable practices
- Local food is eating many different foods
- Local food is a good faith effort (not an all or nothing endeavor)
Why eat local food?
There are a lot of reasons to eat locally. Your first challenge in this course is to consider the various reasons you are interested in local eating.
A few generations past, everyone ate local food. Spices and a few delicacies were imported from other regions, but the vast majority of everyone’s diet was food produced by regional farmers. City dwellers had food shipped in from the farmland that today has become suburbia. New Jersey is called “The Garden State” because it was the farmland that produced all the food for New York City.
In the last century, the developed world has gone through a major change in how we produce food and how we eat. Food has become industrialized, corporatized, and mass produced. Today, we think of food as coming from a package or coming from the store.
Local food is the attempt to rebuild the connections that were lost in the cultural shift to convenience. For some folks, it is about self reliance and growing your own. For others, it is about voting with your dollar and keeping money in the community. Environmentalism drives many to local eating in order to support small sustainable farms. Health is another big reason: eating local, seasonal, whole foods is as good for the human body as it is for the planet. Local food is also about preparing for a future where oil might not be so readily abundant.
One of the wonderful things about local food is that it does not come with a one-size-fits-all explanation. We all have complicated relationships with food, sustenance, and culture that play out in our reasoning.
Challenge: Why Do I Eat Local Food?
The goal of this challenge is to come up with your main reason(s) for eating local food. It is a great support to have a clear reason for the extra work of changing the way you eat.
Start by filling out answers to the questions below. Try to write stream of consciousness. You may want to type or you may want to print this out and write by hand. Another option is to use a voice recorder (your phone or your computer probably has one) and record yourself “talking through” these questions. Make sure to have about 15 minutes of quiet time.
1) When you think back on your childhood, what is a memory about food that stands out to you? Try to describe it in as much detail as you can. Focus on colors, smells, other sense impressions.
2) How does this memory make you feel? How does it influence how you feel about food today?
3) What cultural traditions do you bring to your kitchen? Are there particular foods, recipes, or styles of cooking that resonate with you?
4) Consider the idea of home. What does home mean to you?
5) How about community? Who is your community? Where is it?
6) Take a moment to picture where you live. What is the landscape like? What types of farms do you know of in your area?
7) What if the day came when trucks stopped bringing food to your local grocery store? What would that be like for you?
8) What is your relationship with food? How does it make you feel?
9) What counts as “good food” to you?
Look back through your responses and find 1-3 ideas that stand out in your answers.
Think back to why you decided to take this course and see if you can put together a brief (1-2 sentence) statement of why local food is important to you.
Try one of these prompts to get your statement going:
Local food is something I value because…
I want to eat more local food because I want to feel…
Here is what local food means to me:
Defining Your Version of Local
Hopefully, you have taken some time to explore your “why,” your reason for coming to this course and delving deeper into the idea and practice of local food. From here, we move into the nitty gritty of how to get more local food into your diet.
There are lots of different ways to challenge yourself to eat more local food. Several books worth reading have chronicled the shift to a local food diet.
If I were to sum up local food in one sentence it would be: a good-faith effort to eat food grown in your region.
Let’s break that statement down into some important points:
- Good-faith: Be honest about what you can accomplish. Make small changes in the way you buy, cook, and eat food and stay attentive to whether they are working for you.
- Effort: Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Try something new.
- Eat Food: Don’t starve yourself and don’t eat fake food.
- Grown: Focus on eating foods that are whole (not processed) and nutrient dense.
- In your region: Your region can be a certain mile radius (use this link to figure it out), it can be a political boundary, or it can be your bioregion (there will be more info on bioregionalism next week).
Local food eating is not about perfection. Even as super-passionate localvores, we run into issues all the time. Just remember to be gentle with yourself, acknowledge your imperfection, and celebrate all the small successes.
Bioregionalism is a loyalty to a particular region that is defined by watershed, plant life, topography, and other ecological features. It’s kind of like patriotism, except instead of feeling your primary loyalty toward your country, you feel it toward all the different forms of life that make up your local ecosystem.
Tatiana lives in the Champlain Valley. To her west are the Adirondack Mountains and just a few miles down the road to the east is Lake Champlain. The region has great soils and a vibrant farming community. Tatiana is currently getting almost all her food from the full-diet CSA at Essex Farm, down the road from her house. There is also great mushroom foraging in the nearby woods. She just moved, but plans to have a large garden next summer and plant a small orchard.
Teri’s bioregion is the gently rolling hills of Northeast Missouri, bordered by the Mississippi River to the East, the Missouri River to the South, and the Great Plains to the West. She grows a large vegetable garden and raises ducks and chickens for eggs, a family milk cow for milk, butter, and cheese, and can access fruit, and meat regionally.
Defining Your Bioregion
You know where you live, but have you ever tried to describe your home without using any political place names? Towns, states, counties, roads, and buildings are all recent additions to the place you live, but there is a deeper way of knowing that does not involve human artifice.
Bioregionalism is the idea that we are part of a community that has a history dating back before human habitation, and we share our home region with a variety of species of plants and animals. This challenge is an opportunity to get to know your neighborhood in a deeper way.
1) What are the bodies of water that exist near your home?
2) What are a few species of animals and plants that you associate with home?
3) Who were the pre-European inhabitants of your home region? How did they live?
4) Do you know whether or not your area was ever covered by glaciers? You can Google “map of glacial extent” to see how far south glaciers stretched.
5) What is your soil like? The three main constituents of soil are sand, clay, and loam. Stick your hand in the ground and pull out a handful or soil. What does it look like and feel like?
6) When is your last frost in the spring and your first frost in the fall?
7) Are there any other natural features in your region that stand out to you (geology, weather patterns, mountain ranges, desert, elevation, etc.)?
Here is the fun part: Take your answers to some of the questions above and describe where you live without using any of the political place names (no state, town, city, county, roads, etc.):
Getting Started Gardening Mini eBook