Sunday, September 30, 2007

Last night's potluck supper get-together was great! Nine individuals from varying backgrounds came together over delicious food and drink - almost entirely locally grown/produced ingredients, including the wine. We were architects, farmers, journalists, pastors and retail workers, but we had one thing in common: a concern for the future of our world in general, our community in particular, expressed through a desire to eat locally, sustainably. It was a wonderful way to wrap up the Eat Local challenge.

I learned a lot just from the supper. I brought a vegetable vinaigrette salad that included corn kernels. The recipe called for frozen kernels, but why buy frozen when I can get sweet, succulent corn on the cob, fresh-picked from the farm, and get my own? That's where the learning came in: I learned that it's incredibly easy to cut kernels off the cob. I don't know where I got the idea that it was difficult - just a good, sharp blade and a sturdy hand, and the kernels practically jumped off the cob. Two cobs produced 2.5 cups of kernels, exactly what was called for in the recipe.

I learned that locally produced, pastured-fed meat is quite expensive compared with the commercial offerings at the local supermarket. Ground beef is some $5 a pound or so; or was that the steaks? Either way, it was quite beyond my food budget. Some day I would like to be able to support local beef producers, but that day is far off right now. I was able to pick up a dozen large, local eggs for $1.80; not the lowest price but good enough. With some bleu cheese and a mild cheddar, that was it for animal products, for me.

I learned that there is far more locally produced foods than I'd ever consciously realized, judging from the feast we enjoyed last night. Wine from one of the many Finger Lakes wineries provided a joyful libation; tossed greens topped with goat cheese; long, fat green beans in a pesto sauce; vegetable-stuffed eggplant; etc. My vegetable salad called for a sweetener, so I used a dab of locally produced raw honey that I'd bought at the Regional Market that morning.

Best of all, I learned that there are more of us who are interested in food - from source to table - than I imagined. Around here, it's easy to get the impression that you're the only one who's into a given subject. Then you gradually hear through about others, and eventually you learn through the grapevine that there are all these other people quietly forming their own small groups of like minds ... and I think that's what's happening now. Several folks at the table last night named at least one person who'd wanted to attend but couldn't.

And so we agreed - we'd meet up for another local-food potluck supper on the fourth Saturday of the month. And we were pretty sure we'd be a larger crowd next time. I hope so, because the more the merrier!