Monday, August 8, 2011

good food, locally

Our church has grown and is planting a church in Strasburg, which is the town just North of us.  The new pastor and his wife, Heather, are just lovely and only moved here last week.  I talked to Heather this week about where to get food and told her I'd write up where we've learned to get food after 13 years of living in the area.  This is what I wrote for her and I share publicly in hopes that it will benefit someone else locally too.

Last year, we committed to eating locally as much as possible within reason.  Along with that went our use of the big chain food stores.  We have one local chain grocery store that, when we couldn't get something locally, we could rationalize that at least we were supporting a truly local business.  The following is a list for locals of where we get our food in Tuscarawas County.  I told Heather that we don't go to Aldi's anymore because we can't get all our groceries there and it's too hard with kids to make multiple stops, but as you will see, it's not about that at all (because we go a lot of different places).  The prices may be cheap, but how far did the food travel to get there?  Who is my money supporting?  What were the animals fed who's meat or dairy products I'm eating?  How were the workers treated at the factories that packaged the food?  How much packaging am I paying for and having to figure out how to dispose of?

We're not perfect, our eating habits and purchasing habits are a work in progress.  I'd love to eat less sugar, but currently we are not on any special diet, we only try to eat locally and naturally.  This is where we're at right now:

Eggs: Our chickens in our backyard.  Farmer's Market for above and beyond needs.

 Our solar-paneled chicken coop and garden

Produce: We try our best to eat what's only in season and therefore can get most of this from one of the three farmer's markets in our area during the Summer months.  We have one early Tuesday mornings at Tuscora Park in New Philadelphia, one on Wednesday afternoons at the fairgrounds (there's a cute guy cooking pizzas there most every week too!!  He says he's Scottish-Italian, like "Wigtonio" or something) from 3-7pm and one at Dover park on Thursday mornings till about 10am.  This year we have three primary ways we're getting produce: our CSA through Shepherd's Market (a vendor on Wednesdays), our community garden through church and our backyard.  We're usually pretty set between them all.  The Shepherd's Market delivers through the Winter and kept us stocked with purple carrots almost all Winter long.  It was wonderful!

Our first CSA basket with lavendar jam  

Meat: We bought a half beef from Shepherd's Market last Fall which was so big we'll only need to buy a quarter beef this Fall.  We bought 25 chickens from the Geiser farm in Kidron, Ohio.  Both farms treat their animals well and do not give them any hormones or steroids.  Before last Fall, we bought our meats from Sugar Valley Meats in Sugarcreek.  I believe all their meat is steroid and hormone free, but I can't vouch for how happy the chickens were at Gerber's or wherever the beef comes from locally.  We still buy pork from them, we just try not to eat much of it since it's not "kosher".
Where we get our seafood.  :-)

Milk: The Shepherd's Market people hooked us up with their neighbor who is Amish.  After personally inspecting his farm, we bought into his herd (called a herd share) and pay a monthly fee of $24 for boarding of the cows.  He sends a gallon of raw milk to the farmer's market every week with the Shepherd's market people.  As I mentioned before, the Shepherd's Market still make deliveries to our area through the Winter, they go to the Daily Grind Cafe in New Philadelphia every other Wednesday, so we can get deliveries of milk year round.  Before we started this we were paying more for milk per month buying Hartzler's pasteurized, non-homogenized milk from Buehler's.

Bread: About 40% of the time I make my own.  My best recipes are this one and this one.  In the school year I bake a little more, but this Summer I've been relying heavily on store bought bread.  I am a fan of the Brownberry whole grains line.  I mainly check for cellulose which we began to avoid after reading this article. I always knew Frosties were too good to be true.

Beans and Rice: These are staples at our house.  I buy hard beans from the grocery store and use my pressure cooker to make them.  I buy Jasmin or other short grain white or brown rice from the Oriental Food Store in Canton.  I buy Basmati and lentils, Indian spices, pureed garlic and ginger from the Indo-Asian Grocer in Canton.

Spices: I love to go to Sugar Valley Bulk Foods in Sugarcreek for these since they're so cheap.  I try not to go crazy there because it's mostly mystery food (and spices).  I have no idea why the King Arthur flour there is less than half the price of King Arthur flour at the grocery store.  It bothers me a bit.  Not enough to begin a full fledged investigation, but I wonder still...

Flour, Sugar and other baking stuff: I usually buy flour in bulk from one of the Amish bulk food stores around here.   The closest one to me is next door to KFC at the Dover exit by the highway, but they have a better selection at SV Bulk Foods in Sugarcreek.  I have been hearing lots from nurse, Joel Lehman at church about different local mills.  I think Baltic Mills is one of them.  I've checked out Magnolia's Mill myself and they only grind wheat flour these days.

Lunch Meat: This is a luxury for us as we're a bit picky.  We only eat turkey and only nitrate free, unprocessed meat.  So, we pay $8 a pound at Buehler's or Giant Eagle (yes, we do go there too) or we drive all the way to Walnut Creek Cheese and pay $4.25 a pound.  Usually, we don't have lunch meat, we eat leftovers or peanut butter and honey sandwiches.  If I do go to WC Cheese, I buy a bunch in half pound bags (nitrate free goes bad quickly) and freeze them.

Cheese and Butter: We like cheese and butter that Minerva Dairy makes and Shepherd's Market sells.  I've driven to the dairy myself to save money and found that with the drive, I didn't save any money after all.  I buy the roll butter in bulk and just freeze it, same with the cheese.  I'll get a 10-12 lb. hunk of cheese, cut it up, freeze it.  A fun local place to go is Yaggi's Cheese in Stonecreek, just South of New Phila.
Krantz Berries

Pretty much we go to Buehler's or Giant Eagle for everything else (tea, chips, etc.).  I'm being challenged to can more and try my hand at making more.  I've started making my own yogurt, croutons, laundry soap, softener, shampoo and I canned peaches for the first time this year.   Every year we add something new to our canning repertoire.  We will or have already canned sour kraut, pickles (Ben did both of those this year), diced tomatoes, and salsa.  We freeze jam, corn and apple sauce every year.  We also have started storing potatoes, apples and onions in our garage during the Winter months.  I bought 100 pounds of seconds potatoes from Shepherd's Market for $20 last year and they were organic and five different colors.  We get apples for sauce and storing from Hillcrest Orchard in Walnut Creek.  Oooh, I just noticed on their site, they have peaches too!  I just bought my first peck of peaches from the farmer's market, but maybe I'll go there for the next two.   One peck didn't can very much (10 pints).  We pick strawberries during their season at Krantz Berry Farm in Dover.  I got my other berries at the Goodings Market stand on your way to Sugarcreek near the Dover exit. The corn I package for freezing en mass with several family members in Mansfield and Grandma gets good sweet corn from a road side stand for us to do that.  Last year I froze 7 dozen, this year I'm upping it to 10.

Making Apple Sauce in the Victorio Strainer

 We found Discount Drug Mart met our requirements for local business more than CVS, so we try to mostly go there for drug store stuff.  For dining out, that's a real luxury with kids!  We have to go all the way to Canton for good Indian food that I don't have to make myself (The Bombay Sitar) or a Chipotle (not a local but happy meat).  We have several good Mexican restaurants in our area.  El Campesino's in Strasburg is one of the best.  I think that about covers it!  Sorry if this was boring for any one out of town.  This post was written for people new to the area.  Happy Eating!!!


Rachel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachel said...

I had to repost this comment b/c I had a glaring grammatical issue that was just driving me bonkers...and since I know your propensity for proper grammaring...:)
I'm sure someone in your area will find this invaluable! What fun information.

An added note: Every. Single. Couple. has to decide what is best for their own family. What is entirely doable for one family will not be doable or even advisable for another...or even doable or advisable for the original family at another point in time!

It is so easy to look at something like this and become covetous ("I so wish we could do that") or self-righteous ("I'm so glad we do that, pat pat pat"). Then we are reminded that these are not issues of gospel importance. They're not. I so easily tend to busy myself with things like grinding my own wheat, etc. etc. etc. when really? How about I save myself three hours of bread-making (my personal area of "expertise"), enjoy my children, and give thanks to the Lord for the hand-me-down store bread gifted to us by a friend?

I'm talking to myself here, so feel free to tune out...

But legalism sneaks in so easily for me in this area!

Stepping off my platform...

This really is a very valuable post for someone who is in your area and wondering where to find things!

Becca said...

Thanks for the thoughts, Rachel! I always hesitate to write too much about what we're doing or what we've got for that very reason. Though we are very thankful for our blessings we also see how we could be better stewards still and know we have a long way to go. No one does life perfectly and as you said, what works for one family will not necessarily work for another.

We believe strongly that how we spend our money is our best method of practical politics. That's why we're willing to spend more (even if it's a stretch at times) or go without to support local businesses. The "natural" part is partly snobbery, but also a way to tell the govt. what we want. They subsidize chips, pop and candy but fruit and veggies cost an arm and a leg. Every dime counts as a vote in our corporate run country.

Heather said...

Becca-Thanks for the info! You and Ben remind me a lot of my aunt and uncle who are sheep farmers in Southern Maine. They also have chickens and a beautiful garden which allows them to "live off of the land" mostly. my aunt shared the Food Inc. documentary with me and I in turn shared it with Jason..We want so much to do the "local" thing..and we did for the most part purchase our produce locally in PA. We preserve as much as we can from our own garden and I make my own bread sometimes. Although, yes, summertime with the three boys running everywhere i find it challenging to do a lot of baking, let alone getting supper on the table =) But it does happen!
Again, being new to the area, The only places that I know are Beuhler's and Dollar General. So, I have A LOT to learn. It's so valuable to have a veteran of the county like yourself and I will probably ask you more questions than you want to be asked, but thank you so much! Two places of interest that I have are Sugar Valley meats, as we will soon be needing this form of protien(my husband's favorite) although, I am a fan of beans and rice as well.
I also, would like to visit Walnut Creek Cheese. We can talk about a time that suits. Sorry! my post may have quite a few grammatical errors... =)
have a great day!