Apples and Blueberries: Learning to Eat More Locally

Day 266 of 365

Since 2012, we have been in the middle of a long process of trying to grow more of our own food, and on top of that, buy locally as much as possible for the food we can’t grow. Right before the pandemic, I estimated we were growing about 40 percent of what we ate, but during the pandemic, there was nothing else to do but step up our game.

Today, we grow about 60 percent of our food, and we buy another 15 or so percent directly from farmers. We were fortunate in that our basement came with a cold room. It’s small, but we can keep potatoes, onions, garlic, and more in it. From there, we rely on freezers and my limited canning abilities. I am hoping to learn more, but I am able to can several things we eat a lot of. When I go to the grocery store every two weeks, the same few things over and over: cheese, coffee, tea, cat food, organic flour and sugar, bananas, and all the spices and sauces, like cumin and ketchup and mayo. I just plan our meals about what we grow or bought from farmers during harvest, and we just have to buy the accessories.

Again, this was a process. I went to college and lived for years in the suburbs of Dallas. I was a city girl. I was afraid of the woods in Maine when we first moved here. I had read far too much Nathaniel Hawthorne. I definitely did not know how to grow anything or raise chickens or can food, but here I am. Everyone in my family says they never imagined I would be doing this kind of thing, but we watched Food Inc. in 2011, and that was just it for us. Plus, right now, these skills are particularly helpful to us. The things I buy at the grocery store are so expensive that I am terrified to think what groceries would cost us if we didn’t grow so much.

With that in mind, Ron and I are trying harder to increase the amount of food we use from our own or local sources. This year, we are planting peach trees, and we are adding more blueberry bushes in different places, really anyplace ducks or chickens can’t eat them. We share with the chickens and ducks, but if they have the opportunity, they do not share with us. But we are also trying to figure out how to take even more advantage of local farmers.

One of the things we eat (well drink) a lot of in winter is fruit smoothies. We all crave berries, and smoothies are a great way for us to use the local blueberries we freeze. We have always bought frozen strawberries at the grocery store for smoothies though, which we decided makes no sense. First of all, they are terrible really, and second of all, it’s a bit cheaper to buy locally in season if we pick our own and then freeze.

Still, at the moment, all we have are the frozen blueberries and some frozen apples we picked in the fall. I have never had an apple and blueberry smoothie, but I decided to give a try. I added a little yogurt, and it was magnificent. So there’s one more thing we no longer have to buy right now. And, in the fall, we’ll stock up again when apples are cheap–and hopefully, we will have more of our own blueberries this year.

I am going to try to chronicle our process of trying to shift even more our own and local sources of food. I hope it helps someone, maybe just gives them a good idea or two. I want to also start growing more of my herbs and spices. Ron thinks this is unnecessary, but I have an urge. There is a chance it will taste better, and did you know paprika was just ground dried red sweet peppers? I did not know this until the other day. I’m like, “Oh, that’s do-able!”

PS I just have to add that we are looking at -20 degrees in a few days. This is such a worry for me because we have a few old chickens. We are going to clean out the coop, stack the straw high, and possibly use the oil heater in the coop. Still, with the rats in the coop, Ron is going to have to check the wires for damage. If they are damaged, then I guess it’s just straw and hope our coop is dry and warm enough. The ducks always snuggle. I wish the chickens would snuggle more. Maybe they will if they have to. Still, if we can’t use a heater, I think I might put Rooster in the garage in a crate packed with straw. He will hate that, but I don’t want to lose him to the cold.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s