September is an important month. The season’s bounty is in full bloom. Somehow those dreary months of winter when only cellared root vegetables and greens are available seem so distant. Heirloom tomatoes overflow from farm stands, pumpkins shine brightly in the sun, and apples arrive crisp and fresh off the trees. It’s like a rainbow, shades of every color draw you in, inviting you to indulge in far more produce than you could consume. September is aptly dubbed National Organic Harvest Month and also marks month-long NY Locavore Challenge, sponsored by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY).
I talked about October Unprocessed on Sunday, then I found this really awesome infographic from Enlightened Lotus Wellness and absolutely needed to share! I’m such a visual person. For me, reading about how much processed food exists in our diet, and really just how much corn we eat (though I will NOT sacrifice my love for sweet corn on the cob!!) is interesting, but seeing it is so much more. When I first saw Food Inc, a lot clicked, especially the fact that organic isn’t all its cracked up to be and those big organic brands are often owned by some other non-organic brands. Like Cascadian Farms and General Mills or Naked Juice and PepsiCo. So a photo for your thoughts.
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How was your September? Did you succeed in keeping up with NOFA-NY’s Locavore Challenge? I have to admit, there were times I cheated. But overall I think I did pretty well. Even on vacation in Long Island and Vermont, I sought out local treats to satisfy my appetite. Keeping up with the whole 30 days is hard. Even I couldn’t manage. In Vermont we ate at the Simon Pearce Restaurant that had a fantastic list of Vermont beers. I could have been local, but I really wanted a glass of wine. So I went with a Rose from Oregon. At least it was domestic, I guess. Well October brings more fun.
Yeah, this one’s pretty easy. Beer gets a bit more difficult with so many fantastic microbreweries all across the country. But, wine, I got that one covered. Practically the only wine we have (unless presented as a gift) is from New York. Earlier this month I pointed out my favorite Long Island wineries. Unfortunately I haven’t had time recently to go to the Finger Lakes or Hudson Valley. Both are a bit of a trek (5 and 2 hours respectively) but even worse, pretty difficult to get to without a car.
There used to be a wine bar in Manhattan, Vintage New York. Not only was the place right around the corner from my office and had happy hour specials, but it served only New York wines (and some pretty tasty food!). I was amazed to find their prices were similar to what I was used to seeing at the vineyards themselves, so no crazy “travel to NYC” surcharges. Sadly that place is gone. I heard rumors of financial struggles, owner disagreements,who knows what really happened. All I know is I was walking by one day and it was gone. And I mean gone, gone. The corner building had been knocked down as well. A very sad day for me. That is until a few years ago I discovered Brooklyn Oenology that not only sells only NY wines, spirits and beers, but makes their own wine as well!
The New York Locavore Challenge ingredient of the day is Locally Roasted Coffee. I had some trouble choosing my 5 non-local ingredients for the challenge (which in all honesty varied a bit week to week), but coffee was one I had some gripes with. Obviously there aren’t any coffee trees here in Brooklyn (shame…), but there are a number of local coffee roasters. So is it a local ingredient? It’s kind of like supporting a local bakery. All of their grains might not be sourced locally, but it’s much better to buy their bread than the mass produced supermarket brands. Or when I get my salsa from the Brooklyn Salsa company. I know all their ingredients aren’t local, but it’s better than buying from a national manufacturer.
There’s a lot of loop holes, per se, in localism. When I eat at a local mom and pop restaurant, I know not all of their ingredients are sourced locally, but I’d rather eat there than a larger food chain. At least the revenue stays locally in the community. So in short, yes, I consider my coffee local. If I were able to bring some Kona beans home from Hawaii on my own, that would be even better, but I still have another 3 years before I go back there (I might start a daily countdown soon…).