Monday, August 01, 2005

Harder than it sounds

Boy, I'll tell you--the Saturday farmer's market can't come soon enough. We may have to take a field trip ASAP!

Today I drove to our two closest grocery stores in search of southern foods for my Eat Local project.* I tried to keep my expectations low, but I was still disappointed. What I found, even with my incredibly broad definition of "local," could just about be the rations for a Civil War soldier:

watermelon (Florida)
bulk pork sausage (Georgia)
frozen ground turkey (North Carolina--a pleasant surprise, since I had figured Hormel and Butterball would have a monopoly on turkey products)
bacon (South Carolina)
cabbage (North Carolina--many thanks to the store for the "North Carolina Grown!" sticker)
collard greens (South Carolina)
brown rice (Texas)
Community Coffee (an exotic, but roasted with chicory in Louisiana)
milk (Tennessee)

and the luxury item...

"Sweet Heat" flavor Golden Flake potato chips (Alabama, and yes, I know they probably get their potatoes up north, but how can I not support this venerable Birmingham business?)

I already had onions, cornmeal, and grits at home. I could have bought ham, but figured it would have been a little excessive since I already had bacon and sausage in my cart.

There were a few other fresh foods that I suspected were southern (squash, eggs, etc.), but since I couldn't prove it, I left them alone. Same for the citrus fruit. Apparently Sunkist has a new labeling policy where they don't tell you if a fruit comes from Florida, California, or Texas.

The peaches should have been a standout, but they were a travesty. The first store had South Carolina peaches for 48 cents a pound, but they were so small and green and rock-like that they weren't even worth that. The second store had a sign up that said "Southern Peaches," but on closer inspection they turned out to be from California. I will definitely be going to a farm stand for my peaches.

Tonight's dinner will be bucatini with pesto made from our home-grown basil. I already had Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and pasta in the pantry, so the meal feels like we're cheating! But once these items have run out, we will be replacing them with local artisan cheese (I discovered some that I'll tell you about later), pecans, and polenta.

* See previous post for details.