A Year of Eating Locally
October 24, 2008
Editor’s Note: Katrina Davidson is one of many Bay Area bloggers who participated in the 2008 Eat Local month and chronicled their experiences.
I never intended to be a locavore. I took part in the Eat Local Challenge last year thinking my husband and I could survive off Massa Organics brown rice and eggs from the woman with the chicken hat at the Barrett Farm stand and call it a success. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Instead of suffering through the Challenge, meals became a celebration, a time to learn about places and people. And it’s those seasonal and personal narratives that continue to inform what we eat and have a perennial seat at our table.
Farmer David Little became my sage; he had advice about how to cook the many varieties of Petaluma potatoes he grows and preserve the dry farmed tomatoes I’ve come to depend on all year, fresh or from the freezer. Stan Devoto of Devoto Gardens had advice about which of their Sebastopol apples was the sweetest, which the most tart, and which made the best pot of sauce. Before long, I could taste the mix of sunshine and fog in the spinach, chard, nettles and turnips I bought from the secret land of Bolinas.
We gave up the grocery store for food untraveled, often with dirt still on its roots. And because I work and commute we ate simply, letting go of most foods with multiple ingredients. We began using oil and vinegar for dressing. We ate homemade salsa on mixed greens, and Purple Haze carrots instead of tortilla chips. We snacked on almonds, strawberries and figs. We ate vine-ripened melons, St. Benoit yogurt with honey, and scrambled eggs for breakfast. I made pots of Rancho Gordo heirloom beans, mashed potatoes, slow roasted tomatoes, and applesauce sweetened with more honey.
I also discovered restaurants near my home―Ava’s in San Anselmo, Pizzeria Picco in Larkspur, Smallshed Flatbreads in Mill Valley―which created their menus, and still do, from farms whose names I was beginning to recognize.
A year later the learning curve has relaxed. I’m participating in the Challenge again this month, but around ninety percent of our food already comes from small local farmers. My desire this year is to use the challenge to more fully include friends and family, despite their busy lives. It’s not an easy transition to make, but I hope, through example, to show them that I’ve gained far more than I’ve missed.
Recipe: Katrina’s Favorite Locavore Salad
A handful of local walnuts
A bowl’s worth of Marin Roots Farm greens
½ basket of strawberries (or pears, figs, persimmons, apples or kumquats, depending on the season)
2-3 tablespoons Bariani olive oil
2 ounces of Andante chèvre
Sea salt to taste
Toast walnuts and let cool. Mix greens and fruit in a bowl. Drizzle olive oil, sprinkle salt, crumble chèvre and top with walnuts.
Katrina Davidson is a fourth generation native of Northern California. She lives to eat and eats to blog at kaleforsale.blogspot.com.