Local food movements have been gaining power over the last few years. Books such as Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma both touted the benefits of eating local.
In addition to using less energy, local food has a lower carbon footprint and tastes better because food shipped across the country loses many of its vitamins and minerals in transport and many of the sugars in fresh-picked produce turn to starch.
In St. Mary’s County, the So. Maryland, So Good campaign has been working to help consumers find and purchase local products. Their website, http://www.somarylandsogood.com, has resources for both consumers and farmers and includes a farm guide. There are many resources available to students who want to increase the portion of local food in their diet.
Bon Appetit is required to get a certain amount of food from within 150 miles, and students can ask to see which foods are made with those ingredients.
Students at the College have the advantage of living in a rural area with many farms and farmer’s markets. Many students also work at EvenStar, a local organic farm that provides a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program over the summer.
There is also a farmer’s market on Mondays in the Campus Center, and a quick search online will show plenty more within driving distance. Even grocery stores have local food. Most produce has a sticker or label that shows the country or state the food came from, and most grocery stores should be able to provide more information as to where they get their fruits and vegetables.
It is more difficult to find local food during the late fall and winter months when farmer’s markets are closed. However, the campus farm is within walking distance where students can work and harvest local organic food.
Current local and seasonal ingredients include apples, arugula, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, celery root, chard, cranberries, fennel, garlic, kale, leeks, mushrooms, onions, parsley, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins, rutabagas, shelling beans, winter squash, and turnips. Eggs are in season year round, and you might also be able to find local meat and milk.
The website http://www.localhavest.org is a good resource for finding out which foods are in season and where to find them.
Below are two easy recipes for students interested in cooking seasonal meals.
Curried Pumpkin Soup
Ingredients: 1 baking pumpkin, 2 potatoes, 1 beet, 2 cloves garlic, 1 small onion, 1 vegetable bouillon cube, 1 tablespoon of curry powder, olive oil and water.
Cut the top off the pumpkin like you’re carving it and scoop out all of the seeds. Spread olive oil over the inside of the pumpkin and roast on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, stir fry the garlic and onion in olive oil in a skillet.
Dice the potatoes and beets and mix with the garlic and onions. Continue to fry until the onions are lightly browned. Add the mixture to the pumpkin and fill the remainder of the pumpkin with water, the curry powder and the bouillon cubes, leaving about an inch for when the water boils.
Roast in the oven until it is easy to sink a fork into the flesh of the pumpkin, about forty-five minutes to an hour. Remove from the oven and let cool for ten to fifteen minutes, then serve.
Ingredients: 2 cups of kale, rinsed and shredded (no stems); 2 cloves garlic, minced; 1/3 cup olive oil; 1/4 cup almonds; Parmesan cheese to taste, about half a cup.
In a food processor or blender, mix all of the ingredients except the cheese together until smooth. Mix in the Parmesan cheese and add additional olive oil to taste. Serve on toasted bread, pasta, or use in sandwiches.