I then raised the question, how do our local farmers survive during the dark days of winter if their immediate communities don't buy their products year round? Ivy, my quiet though astute vegetarian noted, 'we should buy maple syrup from the Browns, we haven't done that since last spring.' Absolutely! Now you're on the localvore bandwagon. My other daughter, Camille, a true omnivore, stated, 'so we can't have grapefruit juice???' Not wanting my teens to hitchhike back to NYC, we all chose two items that we just HAD to have that could not be produced locally. Sean's choices were coffee and red wine; Ivy choose black tea and avocadoes; Camille choose grapefruit juice and chocolate chips; and I chose yeast and lettuce. Commentary on how our choices model our core personalities…I'll tackle in a future article.
In order to stay true to the test, we created realistic goals to suit our lifestyle. We agreed to consume the non-local items we already had in the house (sugar, pasta, baking ingredients, olive oil, curry powder) but if we ran out, they would need to be replaced by local options or substitutions. We defined our 'local' market as a maximum 200-mile radius around Dover, Vermont. Since we are nearing the end of a rough Vermont winter (3 feet of snow still coats the ground) and local produce is not abundant, this radius added some flexibility to our definition of a local marketplace. Ideally this range would extend to 100 miles. Even so, we swore to first search for products within a 35-mile radius and then extend our reach outward if we couldn't find what we needed. After we made this decision, Camille stated, 'since you two do the shopping, looks like you get to do all the work.' Ah, the privileged life of an American teen.
Most evenings, our family eats dinner together, but breakfast and lunch are less structured. For breakfast, we decided to make our own bread and eat eggs purchased from a neighbor since all 16 of our chickens were 'harvested' by a hungry weasel last month. We decided to cook twice as much as we needed for dinner so Sean and I could eat leftovers for lunch. The girls' would continue to eat lunch at their high school cafeteria, an uncontrolled environment in more ways than one, but would choose housemade rather than packaged items, knowing that the chef (their cafeteria cook was a former chef to a French President) purchased many items from local producers. We would avoid snacks as much as possible or eat Vermont apples to tide us over to the next meal.