If you've read this blog for any length of time, you'll know that one of my (minor) obsessions is local food. We have a produce share, a meat share, a fruit share, and a winter root vegetable share all through various local CSA's (community supported agriculture). In fact, many of our meals, particularly in the summer, are almost 100% locally sourced.
Not only am I convinced that the food tastes better, I also feel as if it is healthier. Remember a few years back when salmonella was found in California greens? How about the recent egg recall? Unfortunately, this is a result of factory farming pressures and I don't see the problem going away anytime soon.
Well, it's easy to eat locally this time of year. Even without belonging to a CSA, farmers markets are practically in every town brimming with ripe, locally grown, and competitively priced produce.
But we're in the frozen North of New England, and eating locally is a lot harder in the winter. Which brings me to harvest season and the reason my blog posts are rather more infrequent than normal. It's tomato canning time. Right now, I have 3 pots of tomato sauce simmering on the stove, waiting to be thick enough to can.
The farmer who operates our CSA has made a barter deal with me. He'll give me as much produce as I can handle if I'll share the preserved food with him. I find it terribly ironic that he has all this farm fresh bounty around him and no time to put it by for winter. I can every fall anyway, so having access to free produce in return for my sweat equity is a great bargain.
Well, friday, he sent me home with close to 60 lbs of tomatoes. Yikes! That's on top of the 8 quarts of cherry tomatoes he gave me a few days earlier. Those are now dried, put away in quart ziploc bags. Half in my pantry, half in his. Later this week, he'll have maybe 5 or 6 quarts of sauce and 3 quarts of chopped tomatoes to join them.
I have chopped, cored, and skinned so many tomatoes, I'm dreaming about them. Yes, I'll swear and fume about never wanting to see another tomato again, until December, when I go down to the basement pantry and open a jar of August sunshine and rain in the form of tomato sauce. Then I'll be overjoyed that I did this yet again.
So for the next few weeks, if you need me, I'll be in the kitchen dealing with tomatoes. At least until the local apples come in.