Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mystery Lamb

Fitting to start the blogging on a mixed-bag of a day.

For breakfast I had local, non-organic raspberries and blackberries from Phillips Farm (Milford, NJ).  Although the berries aren't organic, Phillips Farm does use integrated pest management (IPM), crop rotation, and other methods to reduce the need for pesticides to last-resort application only, which makes me feel a bit better. I understand that organic is not always practical in every case, but I do like to know that the farmer is thinking about sustainable ways to tackle the challenges of pests and fungus and fertilization first, rather than just reaching for the nearest chemical.

I ate my breakfast berries with local, organic, grass-fed milk from Milk Thistle Farm (Ghent, NY), and non-local, organic, high-fiber, low sugar Smart Bran cereal from Nature's Path (Blaine, WA).  The cereal came a long way, I know, but I have yet to find a comparable local replacement. See my list of "Non-Local Foods I Eat", link at right.

Later in the day I ate half of a tuna sandwich from 'wichcraft. I don't know what percentage of the sandwich was made from local ingredients, but I do know that 'wichcraft does practice local and/or sustainable ingredient sourcing, because they are refreshingly transparent about their suppliers on their website. For example, my sandwich was made from American Tuna, which, while far from local, is sustainably fished in the Pacific Northwest. I appreciate the pride 'wichcraft takes in using local and/or sustainable ingredients, and I feel good about eating their food, knowing I am supporting a business that shares my values. It helps that the sandwiches are pretty darn good, too!

In the afternoon I had a piece of a burger that I had leftover from a work lunch yesterday. The lunch was at one of my favorite restaurants near my office: Hundred Acres.  Marc Meyer and Vicki Freeman are devotees of creating delicious food from local, seasonal, sustainable ingredients at each of their three restaurants, which include Cookshop and Five Points in addition to Hundred Acres. The grass-fed burger is a real winner at Hundred Acres, proof that eating local, sustainable food is hardly a chore.

Before I left work for the day I had a small piece of lamb loin. To be honest, I have no idea where the lamb came from or how it was raised, because I didn't ask when I could have. The lamb was leftover from a cooking class I took on Sunday, and I do regret not asking the instructor where the school sources its ingredients.

I also ate some fruit as snacks during the day: an (unknown varietal) apple from Samascott Orchards (Kinderhook, NY) and a Bosc pear from Truncali Farms (Marlboro, NY).  Neither fruit was organic; Samascott's website just says they try to spray the crops only when necessary, while Truncali is reported to use IPM. The lack of detail about growing practices on Samascott's website makes me uncomfortable and likely to choose fruit from a more informative orchard next time. I feel a bit better about Truncali: although they don't have their own website, they are featured on a website for Northeast Family Farms that use IPM. But in both cases, I am forced to make a choice based on limited information, which makes me less likely to want to buy from those farmers again. Farmers, more information on your websites, please!

Another snack today was beef jerky, which I like to eat after my tennis matches. My favorite jerky is from Slantshack, a local purveyor that uses grass-fed beef from Vermont, and lets customers custom-order jerky with a variety of different rubs and glazes. This jerky is no Slim Jim -- it is very lean, not overly salty or sweet, and the ingredient list has nothing you won't find in your own kitchen.

Finally, for dinner I had a salad that was entirely local and mostly organic. The lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, summer squash, shallots, and garlic were organically grown by Norwich Meadows Farm (Norwich, NY). The broccoli came from Stokes Farm (Old Tappan, NJ), which uses IPM but is not organic. The dressing was a creamy poppy seed dressing left over from my cooking class, and again, I regretfully did not ask where the ingredients in that dressing came from.

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