Wednesday, June 28, 2006

We love Liz

Now that May's Eat Local Challenge is over, Liz at Pocket Farm has come up with a new challenge. She calls it One Local Summer.

The concept is as follows: Participants agree to make one dinner entirely out of local foods during each of the twelve weeks of summer, starting this week and continuing through Saturday, September 16. The only non-local ingredients allowed are oil, salt, pepper, spices and herbs, and condiments and sauces. Everything else should be from your local foodshed (usually defined as a 100-mile radius, or as close as you can get to it).

Because Liz rocks, she has sweetened the deal by offering prizes. Every time participants make a completely local dinner and supply photographic evidence, they get a chance to win a market bag from the Eat Local Challenge Cafe Press store. She'll draw a name every fourth week. It's not too late to join--just go to Pocket Farm and sign up.

Obviously, I'm participating. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't be writing this and accompanying it by a photo of food!

Here's our entry for Week 1. As I put it together, I tried valiantly to stay within a 100-mile radius. I suspect that as the crow flies, I came awfully close. But in terms of highway miles as calculated by Mapquest, this is how it all shook out:

Pork loin chops - from Dyal Farms, Cobbtown, Ga. (132 miles); processed in Millen, Ga. (120 miles)

Fresh sage - our own (0 miles)

Braised Parmex carrots - our own (0 miles)

Carolina Gold rice - from Anson Mills, Columbia, S.C. (144 miles)

I feel very, very close to the food we ate. Those pork chops? I personally cut them from half a carcass of a humanely grown pig that we bought from Mary Dyal, a lovely person with whom I spoke on the phone several times. (FYI, besides being pig farmers, the Dyals are also among the very, very few organic Vidalia onion producers in the state. They are really wonderful, principled people.) I picked the half-pig up from the processor myself and was given a tour of the facility.

The carrots? They're gorgeous. After trying to grow regular pointy carrots in our heavy Georgia soil and ending up with monstrous deformed horrors, I switched to Parmex seeds and have been rewarded with delightful little globes of carrot-y goodness.

The sage? It grows outside the kitchen door.

The rice? Stop what you are doing right now and call Anson Mills. Carolina Gold rice is an heirloom variety, delicious beyond compare, and when you order it you will get the opportunity to talk to a person who is so spectacularly, delightfully geeky on the subject of grain that it will blow your mind. I smiled for hours after placing my order. They care that much.

Stay tuned for next week's entry...