Almost local dinner

A few days ago I realized that the Eat Local food challenge I wanted to participate in had come and gone. I had completely forgotten about it. The challenge requires you to eat as much food as you can that was produced or grown within 100 miles of your home. I’ve been trying to make more local food choices since reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle earlier this year. It may seem that trying to eat this way is a lot of trouble…but it really isn’t. Even the big box grocery stores carry a lot of local produce these days. It’s simple – if given the choice between SC peaches and peaches from Mexico, I choose the ones from SC. I haven’t had to go terribly out of my way to find better, local choices which is why I was looking forward to taking on a more serious challenge. The honest truth is that the local food tastes SO MUCH better. I’ve been lamenting the loss of tomatoes for two or three years now. I don’t think you can call those red, round things in most grocery stores tomatoes. Even the organic versions don’t have the same tomato flavor that I remember as a kid. I was so desperate for a good tomato, I even tried to grow my own last year (unsuccessfully.) I miss tomatoes. In our CSA box two weeks ago, we had three, fresh, juicy tomatoes. Although my hopes have been dashed so many times, I started slicing the first one with hope in my heart, took a bite, and almost got tears in my eyes. THIS is a tomato!! How do you describe what a fresh tomato is really supposed to taste like?? I don’t know but I know that THIS was a tomato like I remembered from my youth. The flesh is firm yet juicy. There’s a sweet tang on your tongue. It tastes more like a spoonful of tomato paste than a spoonful of heavily diluted tomato juice.

I ate the first small tomato with my lunch and decided to slice the other two for dinner. A perfect summer salad (and sandwich) – tomato slices alternated with fresh mozzarella and basil then drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. As I put together our dinner plates, I realized that almost everything on our plates was local and I hadn’t even tried to do that. The tomatoes came from a farm in Blythewood. The basil came from the pots outside my kitchen door. The figs had been plucked from the tree in our back yard only an hour earlier, then stuffed with blue cheese and grilled. The mashed potatoes were Yukon Golds from our CSA. All of the main foods were local! The only things that weren’t local were my cheeses and the oil and vinegar. I know that I can fairly easily get SC made cheeses so if I was really trying to go “all local”, I’d spend a little more for those. I don’t know about the oil and vinegar. Regardless, this was an amazing meal. I couldn’t believe how full I was at the end!