Eating Local in a Small Town

After my great success shopping at the Milwaukee Winter Farmer’s Market, I was left with a question.  How hard would eating local be in other areas, especially in smaller towns?

As it so happened, we had time booked this weekend in Fish Creek, Wisconsin.  With a winter population under 1000 (which swells enormously in summer), it is more of a resort area than a typical small town.  But shops that don’t do enough business in winter close their doors until spring, so I decided it would still be a reasonable way to research this question.

Greens & Grains in Egg Harbor
Greens & Grains in Egg Harbor

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Am I the Ant or the Grasshopper?

As I prepared to eat locally all winter, I couldn’t help think about the old Aesop fable, The Ant and the Grasshopper.  Do you recall the story?  Per Wikipedia, “The fable concerns a grasshopper that has spent the summer singing while the ant worked to store up food for winter. When that season arrives, the grasshopper finds itself dying of hunger and begs the ant for food. However, the ant rebukes its idleness and tells it to dance the winter away.”

All possible political and moral messages aside, I had to wonder.  With my late start on this local eating adventure, would I ultimately end up like the grasshopper and run out of local food?  And what other local food would be available then?

winter farmers market
Winter Farmer’s Market  

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Looking for Local Red Wine – a Field Trip

When I started my local eating experiment, I was motivated by three things.  First, I wanted to encourage and support local producers. Second, I wanted to provide some practical insights into how to do more local eating. Finally, if things worked out, I was hoping to take some fun “field trips.”  Like searching Wisconsin for local red wine — dry even.

Alas a host of other responsibilities, along with a fall food preservation panic, have been getting in the way of the third goal.  Until last weekend, when I started my search for something that I had been told was impossible.

Tending the grape vines at Lautenbach's Winery
Tending the grape vines at Lautenbach’s Winery

A Wisconsin dry red wine.  Grown from local grapes.  Continue Reading

Sugar, Oh-oh, Honey, Honey: Local Substitutions

If you are eating local, there are some things you need to do without!  It’s okay–there are local substitutions for almost everything. And sometimes it’s a good thing.

Black Friday Shopping coffee. Out again!
Black Friday Shopping coffee. Out again!

The recent holidays certainly put this to the test!  But it was a great learning experience – and I expect to keep using some of the new local substitutions even when my year-long experiment ends!   Continue Reading

Breakdown (Go Ahead and Cry): First Quarter Review

No really, don’t cry. Most of the news is good. But in the spirit of full disclosure, there were two major (albeit brief) breakdowns in the first three months of our Year of Eating Locally.

Corresponding with midterms. And finals.

Yes, if there is anything I’ve learned about eating local it’s that you do need to plan.  Not every single day, but regularly.

Mushroom shopping at the Winter Farmer's Market
Mushroom shopping at the Milwaukee Winter Farmer’s Market

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Eating Local: It’s About Values, Stupid

It was one of those memories… vague enough to give some doubt.  But since it was a landmark moment, here it is.

No promises.

Artisan Cheese
Artisan Cheese, another benefit of small producers

I was attending a meeting of the American Cheese Society.  In beautiful Burlington Vermont, the skies were blue, the air unseasonably hot—and local food was everywhere. Under an enormous tent, a keynote speaker stepped up to the podium.

The first slides are long forgotten, but a later one stood out.  It read simply, “It’s About Values, Stupid.”  Continue Reading

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