Those of you who have been following my blog for a while will know that I have become very interested in eating locally. I want to know where my food comes from, what was used to grow it, and the health of the soil it grew in. I want to know how the food animals were treated, what sort of life they led, and what sort of food they ate. I have not bought pork in almost two years because I cannot stomach the methods used in commercial pork production. In our old place we were fortunate to have access through a family friend to ethically-raised beef at a reasonable price (which we bought by the half-cow), but I could find no such source for pork.
We have been in our new town for almost two weeks. In the rush of trying to get the house in order, finding homes for everything in a place considerably smaller than our last one (which has necessitated storage solutions), and beginning work on the land (with all the tool-buying that entails) there hasn’t been much time to source out local food. Sad to say we’ve been hitting the big box stores and coming home with very little that qualifies as local in my book, let alone “whole”. I knew it was out there, somewhere, but not knowing my way around and having my days filled up with all sorts of errands I figured it would just have to wait a little longer.
Today we had an appointment at the insurance office to go over our home insurance policy (it was put together in a rush to satisfy the mortgage requirements). It was raining pretty hard when we left, and my sweet Husband suggested we go for a drive. He’d already sourced out two places he felt we should visit and so, being the King of Spontaneity (one of the things I love about him), we headed to the highway.
Not five minutes later we hit our first stop, a butcher. This place sells beef, pork, and lamb all from the family farm which has been in operation since 1925. They not only feed their animals a vegetarian diet, they actually have their own feed mill so they know exactly what goes into their animals. The store was chock full of wonderful, fresh meat and their own sausages and cured meats. Best of all, I found items like pig heart, pigs hocks, veal kidney, pig breastbone and other delights for my dog that were well within my raw-dog-food budget (under $2/pound means same price as good kibble). I even bought some lovely pork chops to cook in celebration of finally having a source for local, ethically-raised pork. Husband and I were very happy to find this place, and it’s where I’ll be buying my pork and dog bits from now on (as well as turkey, and beef when we run out of our freezer stash).
The next stop was a local cheese shop. It was located in a quaint seaside village less than 15 minutes from home. The owner remarked that she’d had lots of “new faces” in today and I proudly announced “we just moved here!” like a total newbie geek. We sampled a cheese they made themselves from locally sourced milk and came away with a little round of cheese and a couple of natural sodas. She told us about a nearby farm that sells their chickens on-site, and a fish market with its own wharf from which the local fisherman set off and bring back their sustainably-harvested fish and spot prawns. Then she sent us next door to the bakery.
At the bakery the first thing that caught our eye was their bagged flour. All but the white flour was ground in their own stone mill, most from locally grown grains (we’re still trying to figure out why we can’t find locally-grown white flour; even the stuff we used to buy that was milled locally was brought in from the prairie provinces). We learned that we can buy in bulk, too. We came away with a spelt baguette and, I confess, that is the first time I’ve had such a thing. It was truly delicious and has got me thinking I’d like to try baking some spelt bread myself. With baguette in hand, as well as a couple of their lovely cookies, we had the fixings for a delicious lunch.
We also passed a local farm market store on the way home. Not just named so for marketing reasons, we were told by the cheese shop lady that they do, in fact, sell produce and other items from local farms and are “the real thing”. Finally, there are a number of farms a few minutes away that sell eggs, chicken, and produce direct from the farm (on our street alone there are two places that sell eggs from a carton in the driveway – people go on the honour system here, isn’t that awesome?).
And so, one day before the two-week anniversary of our move, I have found a source for my cheese, eggs, and meat. Hurrah! There is far more selection and availability here and all so much closer and more convenient. In fact, as we drove home I wondered why our small town had no less than three large-chain/big box grocery stores. Seems some of the people living here have no idea how lucky they are to have such a thriving local farming and food artisan community all around them.