Friday, August 3, 2007

Friday, August 3: Day 3—Why 100 miles?

Why not 200, or 250, or something less arbitrary, like using the borders of Wisconsin?

It all comes down to what you think is local. For us, a big part of it is to know who produced the food. Wisconsin is a medium-sized state, but it is possible to drive 6 hours and not cross out of it. That's a long way, and by no standard that we recognize does that constitute local, particularly when we can be in northern Illinois in just over an hour, which you have to consider much more "local" by comparison. We are buying most of our food from people who had a hand in growing it, and only under special circumstances could this happen for a producer that was hours and hours away by car. But this is why we made our exception for buying in person. We traveled to Door County, WI in July, which is an area famous for its cherries. We bought cherries at the orchard where they were grown, and we'll continue to enjoy them despite the fact that they come from "too far away". Likewise, Harmony Valley Farm is a mainstay at the Dane County Farmers' Market. As the crow flies they are about 92 miles from here, but I have no doubt that the odometer on their truck registers over 100 miles every Saturday. But when we buy from them we are buying directly from the producer. I think it meets the spirit of what we are trying to accomplish, which is to know where our food comes from and to spend our food dollars with people we know.

So what did we eat today? Well, we were all on separate tracks today. Jen was out working, so after a breakfast of wheat bran cereal, she packed a multi-stage lunch including cauliflower, cheese, popcorn, peanut butter, yellow-doll melon and a Caprese salad picked from our driveway garden.

Scott and Evie had a special treat for breakfast—brun-uusto from Brunkow Cheese. This is a Finnish cheese that is in a slab about 5/8" thick, and it is baked on both sides until it is golden brown. You bring it home and reheat it until it is soft inside. The flavor is insane—buttery and salty, it tastes like a whole grilled cheese sandwich (I consider it a bit Willy Wonka-ish, to be honest) and the texture is a little chewy, almost rubbery, with a bit of cheese curd squeak to it (I'm sure we'll post on sqeuaky cheese curds in the future for those who don't know), and a creamy finish in your mouth. Plus buttered toast, maple yogurt, and Evie finished the last of the apple cider. Oh, the yogurt. I know that the FDA or the USDA has a standard for what can be called Lowfat yogurt, but I swear those people at Sugar River Dairy must be cheating. Their yogurt is unbelievably creamy. A lot of national brands have additives in them to enhance the mouthfeel. Nothing sinister—pectin is a common one, and Stonyfield Farms uses some sort of natural dietary fiber (Inulin I believe it is called), but I'm here to tell you that there is nothing like the real thing, baby.

Lunch? Hot dogs (all beef from Pecatonica Valley Farms), potatoes (Driftless Organics), and broccoli . Couldn't find the homemade ketchup we made last year, so I ate everything straight up and have no complaints (do not normally use ketchup on broccoli, BTW).

For dinner we went out to Jen's parents house (1/2 hour away) and had bison burgers, salad from Harmony Valley Farm , pasta from RP's Pastas, and dessert of whipped cream and raspberries on graham crackers from Potter's Crackers. This was a meal that did not meet our criteria 100% (flour in pasta and crackers, for example) but we were thrilled that Jen's mother put so much thought into where everything came from. This, after all, is the whole point of the exercise. We're after mindfulness, not mindless allegiance. More on this topic to come.

On Saturday I have 2 markets to hit. I'm bringing a long list, a big appetite, and a wad of cash. . .

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