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Year of Produce: March, The Final Chapter

radishThis month marks the final installment of a “Year of Produce” in which I charted my fresh produce purchases in illustrated form for a year starting in April 2010. I was curious to see if I put my money where my mouth is about eating locally and, by definition, seasonally. Yes, 2010 was so last year. But April is so now! Which means you can start all over again if you missed the whole thing. Scroll down for March as well as a mini image of each month that links to that month’s post. Each one has some combination of recipes or recipe links, preparation ideas, thoughts on eating locally and other good stuff. So please explore!

With this final post I offer:

• A tally for the year
• Thoughts on what is local
• My observations on the project
• March recipe links
• How to eat seasonally, affordably (prompted by a question someone asked me) Read more

A Year of Produce: May

In April, I posted my first month tracking fresh produce expenditures—comparing local versus non-local produce. See May below or download a high-res PDF of May. To paraphrase a saying, eat the colors of the rainbow and you’ll be fine. May is already looking more colorful.

Two things I’m struggling with:

Defining local: If I were to use the 100-mile radius rule, then I would have to find out if the Washington apple I buy at grocery store is from a farm within 100 miles. My very loose definition of local is Oregon and Washington. Given that a big percentage of my local produce costs are from the farmers market, I’m fine with my definition.

Including garden costs: This project isn’t about tracking garden costs. Here is an example of a couple who tracked all input costs, labor and output from their garden. This is far too ambitious for me. An excellent read is Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Her family existed for a year on what they grew or could buy within a 50-mile radius. I am only tracking what I harvest (visually) and the cost of seeds or starts, but not compost or fertilizer. However, I haven’t devised a strategy for tracking every sprig of thyme! I’m a big proponent of having an herb garden. Given the cost of fresh herbs and the flavor boost your cooking, herb gardening is where I would put my effort if I had very little space. See this culinary herb primer on Culinate.com.

Maybe you’re wondering what I do with all this. Here are a few links or suggestions:

Radishes and Fennel went into a Radish, Fennel, Orange Salad. The watermelon radish, if you can find it, is a visual delight—white on the outside, hot pink on the inside. Radishes make my stomach burn but my mother loves them. It was Mother’s Day. What can you do? The sweetness of the fennel and orange balance the peppery radishes. Plus the salad looks kick ass.

• In an earlier post, I wrote about Rabes (Raabs), and offer up a quick way to cook broccoli rabe. You can also download a recipe for Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa, a signature dish of the Puglia region in Italy.

• May continues to give us rhubarb. If you missed April, here’s another chance to download a recipe for a Rosemary Rhubarb Galette. Top with goat cheese and serve with a salad for a lovely spring lunch.

• Chef in the Market, Jeremy Eckel of Bar Avignon in Portland, OR, made a wonderful farro (This has become my favorite grain. Stay tuned for another post.) salad with grilled asparagus and spring sweet onions. Add some olive oil, fresh lemon juice and zest, and chopped hazelnuts for a great Spring BBQ salad.

New Seasons market has a nice kale and carrot salad that I’ve recreated at home. It uses an Asian-inspired dressing of cumin, canola oil, fresh ginger, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesami oil. No need to cook the kale first; the vinegar breaks it down so make it a little ahead. I also use the Italian kale in minestrone soup. Sadly, it is still soup season in Portland!

If you have any questions and comments, let me know! Share some of your favorite seasonal recipe ideas. Cheers!

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