accidental locavores

the tall hormonal kid picking apples

I would never call myself a locavore. One, because it would make me feel silly, and two, because it’s not exclusively true. However, eating seasonally grown local food is nothing new to us. This is what we grew up doing and what makes sense for us to continue to do. It’s easy, where we live.

Our main reasons for eating local foods? Economics and taste. It’s normally a little less expensive to buy from our neighbours, plus it keeps money in the neighbourhood. And it just tastes better. Seasonal vegetables from your own garden or local area are picked right when they should be and make it to your plate on that same day (or are preserved at the moment of ripeness).

In the part of southeastern Ontario where we live, we have neighbours with apple orchards, strawberry fields, u-pick corn fields, an apiary, wineries, dairy and meat cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry. We also have local commercial fishermen who sell to neighbours and there are cheese factories very close by. We are lucky, and I know it wouldn’t be as convenient for others to buy local food as it is for us.

However, that said, we don’t buy exclusively local foods. We buy when it makes good economic sense and when food is in season.

When we can, we buy local meat at the appropriate time and stock it in our freezer (ask me sometime about the time my husband accidentally thawed a freezer with a new side of beef, a whole pig, half a sheep, many chickens and a couple of turkeys – all for the sake of a cat door that he put on the wrong side of the furnace room door anyway).

We also grow a lot of our own produce and buy some when it’s in season and put it away for later (I freeze most fruits and veg, but this year I am going to attempt some canning – if my mom could manage it while working full time and coralling 3 kids, I should be able to too. Maybe.).

Our bodies are set up for eating seasonally. In the winter we eat solid meals made with root vegetables that stay well over the winter and with stewed and preserved vegetables from the summer garden. In the spring and summer, we are ready for lighter meals during warmer days. We no longer need the heavy meals to get us through the cold days and are ready to eat greens and fruits as they become available.

Right now we are enjoying chives and rhubarb – the first two things to arrive in our garden. Our neighbours have also been generous with the asparagus from their gardens – definitely my favourite vegetable of spring.

Another benefit of eating local foods is meeting and becoming part of the local community. As well as buying food from neighbours, we’ve also been given maple syrup, honey, venison and moose (sometimes as a barter, sometimes as a gift) and we give away garden produce as well as goose and duck meat in return during hunting season. Food sharing makes you part of a community. We also try to attend local church or women’s institute dinners on occasion. Our families went to them when we were growing up, now we do too. It’s a great way for the younger members of the community to get to know the stories of the older ones.

We also hold a pig roast at our place most years as a way to get the community and some far flung friends together for a weekend. If you feed them, they will come..

We’re making plans to purchase some meat hens soon for our own consumption. We did that a couple of years ago (in collaboration with some friends) with 100 meat chickens. However, after killing and cleaning that many birds, it took me a month to stop grumbling about chicken pluckin’. This time, the dad says “he knows a guy”. I take that to mean he knows a guy with a chicken plucking contraption of some sort. Oh, how I hope so..

Linking to Frugally Sustainable, A Delightful Home

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25 thoughts on “accidental locavores

  1. I also live in an area where it is easy to find lots of local food–from ny own backyard to farms to the millions of greenhouses (this is only a slight exaggeration) we have in the Kingsville and Leamington area in southwestern Ontario – so I am with you–though I am not exclusively a locavore I get to partake in wonderful harvests year round.

  2. Like you I am fortunate to live in an area with access to locally produced foods. From the blueberry fields where we can pick our own, to the numerous farmers where we can buy cows, pigs, even bison (Yes we have a bison farm here). We can get cheese, milk, and eggs, apples, pumpkins, and much more. Yesterday I finally met a family who I will be buying my honey from who live only two miles from me, can’t believe I hadn’t met them before! And like you many of the town’s residents set out their surplus produce. What I love the most about living here is the trust that we have found in our neighbors. When setting out local produce a box is set out trusting people to drop in their money and not steal what is there. Now if the deer would stop eating our garden! The only thing they haven’t touched or devoured completely are our potatoes so far.

    P.S. Can’t wait to hear the story about your accidentally defrosted freezer….and your husband lives? (only kidding)

    • He lives, but I entered his story in a “handyman disaster” contest at the local radio station – that later got read aloud at a golf tournament he attended. 🙂

      We have the same money drop boxes here at the farm stands. People rarely lose money. It’s nice to know that most people are still honest.

      And it’s good to have a feeling of community – and getting to know your neighbours.

      • I hope you won the contest! I do love the sense of community I have here, and the trust. Being in the U.S. our news is filled with all the stories which almost convince us there isn’t any good left, we just have to look around to see it’s not true.

        • Sadly, no, he didn’t win the contest, but did take home the booby prize at the golf tournament, after they read his story out.

          I think news stories are often skewed toward the sensational. It’s good to keep a bit of reality close by.

  3. Wow… was the accidental thawing followed by the biggest community BBQ ever? Or how did you deal with the aftermath? I’m curious as to what moose would be like, the closest I’ve ever gotten are pictures and PBS, certainly never had any on my plate. I wish I did more local eating. It’s on my list of changes I want to make in my life when I stop being overwhelmed by keeping up with my whirlwind of a toddler. Included on that list is renting a patch at the local community garden if they will have me (it’s in the nearby 55+ community). I think by next year I’ll be able to convince Eli to leave at least a few of the plants in the ground!

    • Moose isn’t bad, at least not the stuff we’ve had. I guess including moose as “local” might be a little stretch – it comes from hunting trips a little further north.

      The thawed meat wasn’t discovered until almost two weeks had passed (hubby had unplugged it briefly to plug in his saw, then forgot to plug it in again). We drove the meat out to the woods in back of the farm and left it for the coyotes. I hope they enjoyed it.

  4. emmycooks says:

    It sounds like you live in the right place! 🙂

  5. ceciliag says:

    Hi I am new, i just popped over from soulsby and what an excellent essay. We are working on being self sufficient on our small; property so it is wonderful to find other people with like ideals.. I have thought about selling produce at my gate but we are so isolated.. I need traffic!! Have a wonderful sunday in your garden! c

    • Unfortunately, we have a lot of road traffic. We could do with a little less. I’m going to let my girls have a little produce stand for some fun money again this summer, or at least with some of the pumpkins in the fall.

  6. Sounds like you are doing quite well eating locally!!! We try to do what we can, but we don’t have the resources that you do. Little by little, I always say.

  7. We can get a lot locally, too. These days with thing like polytunnels, we can even have vegetables like capsicum soon. I haven’t seen any bananas yet, though!

  8. Oh, this sounds wonderful! I’ve been a long time local market shopper, but since we have a rather short growing season, it’s not enough to last year round. Last year I finally started my own garden (square foot style), and it was great. We live in city limits (in Ohio), so we can’t have chickens (which I WILL have some day when I get some real country land).

    I’m all for shopping/eating local whenever & where ever possible. I also try to teach my kiddos the same, as it’s the healthiest you can get. 🙂 And PS, so jealous of the asparagus! It’s my fav too, but seasons are short here and it’s $4 a lb when not in season. 😦

    Enjoy!

  9. I have just started shopping at the Farmers Markets. It is such a wonderful feeling to be eating such fresh and seasonal produce.
    Also I love gifting my herbs that I am growing in my herb garden to friends and neighbours!

  10. Sounds like you are amazingly well situated for local food! What are the non-local things you would never give up? I can’t live without oranges, grapefruit, bananas, olives and olive oil, rice and wheat!

  11. Once again….wishing I was your neighbor!! We live in the city so it’s harder for us to do everything I’d like when it comes to eating local and you’re right there is the economic factor. We keep backyard chickens and grow (and freeze) as much as we can from our garden. The food does taste better when it’s local and especially from your own or your neighbor’s garden.

  12. Roar Sweetly says:

    Fabulous post and great food for thought, pardon the pun. Just curious…I followed your link and couldn’t find out how “local” is defined? Is it food produced within the same State or is the area even more narrowly defined?

    • I hadn’t really thought of that – when I say local, I guess I mean within the county that I live in, for the most part. Though the boundaries could be pushed out quite a bit – there was a show on tv last year about a town that started eating food produced within 100 miles.

  13. Your post made me hungry! I want to eat more locally, but I don’t have the space to grow enough for those kinds of trades. Instead I want to visit farmer’s markets more often.
    I really like your thought about how we’re meant to eat seasonally. I’ve never thought about it that way before, but it totally makes sense! Thanks for bringing that idea to light.

  14. Justine says:

    I am thinking about canning this year too. I just need to do it and stop talking about it, right? This is a great post about how eating locally doesn’t have to be a fad, it can be an unspoken way of life. Thanks for sharing.

  15. subtlekate says:

    I had not heard the term. We do eat a lot of local food, but living in the major city of Australia, it’s hard to get everything with x radius. My son is very aware of the miles everything has to travel and so we shop at the local market for fruit and veg and eat fish and the occassional piece of meat as close as we can get it. Things like butter and cheese have to travel a few miles but we try to get it as close as we can.

    I agree about meeting the local people. It’s great getting to know them and where they are from and where there food is from.

  16. […] wrote about buying local food and eating seasonally. We shared rhubarb from our patch, gave away manure and split some bedding plants and gave them to […]

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