We ate nothing but 100% local food* for an entire week and this is what we learned:
Before we began our local food challenge we had a few ideas about what would happen if we ate nothing but locally produced food for an entire week. Our first thought was that it was going to be very expensive compared to our regular grocery shops at the big chain grocery stores. Our second thought was that we’d have a hard time finding enough variety to make complete meals every night or that we wouldn’t be able to find staple ingredients we were used to using in our recipes.
Last Saturday we headed down to the Historic Lewes Farmers Market at George H.P. Smith Park in Downtown Lewes with our reusable shopping bags in tow. Here is what we got:
- 1 pound of spicy Italian sausage and 1 whole chicken from Bohemia Lea Farm
- 1 pound of butter, 2 pounds of fresh yogurt, and a half gallon of skim milk from Nice Farms Creamery
- 1 pack of garlic cheddar hot dogs made with 16 Mile Brewing Co. beer from Reid Angus
- 1 dozen jumbo eggs from Twin Post Farm
- 1 pound of lamb sausage from Springfield Farms
We were already members of the CSA box program from East View Farms in Roxana, DE so our CSA box for the week contained: a half dozen ears of sweet corn, yellow squash, zucchini, radishes, cucumber, eggplant, green peppers, tomatoes, and a cantaloupe. We love the East View Farms CSA box because we usually get enough vegetables to feed a small army.
To make sure we had enough veggies for the week, we also opted for a one-week CSA subscription from Chesterfield Heirlooms. Yes, that’s right; you don’t have to make a summer-long commitment with Chesterfield Heirlooms. Need some extra veggies for a week? Contact them for a one-week CSA. Our bag contained dragon tongue beans (the most interesting-looking veggie we’ve ever seen!), a few pattypan squash, wenk’s hot yellow peppers, shishito peppers, white onions, red onions, garlic, and some beautiful heirloom tomatoes.
Also, let’s not forget the most important meal of the day: coffee! We got a pound of locally roasted coffee from The Point Coffee House.
The ingredients above were used to cook every single meal we ate for the next week. Since we don’t want to bore you with every meal we ate for an entire week, below are some of our favorites.
Breakfast: We used our spicy Italian sausage, eggs, shishito peppers, white onion, wenk’s hot yellow peppers, and garlic to make a breakfast scramble. We served this up with some fresh cantaloupe. We washed all of this down with our homemade cold brew coffee made with the coffee we got from The Point Coffee House.
Lunch: On a recommendation from Ryan Richard, of East View Farms in Roxana, DE, we used our garlic, red onions, squash, green peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes to make a ratatouille. It made enough to feed a small army so we grilled up our chicken with some of our local butter and used it for lunches for the whole week. We used Emeril’s ratatouille recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/ratatouille-recipe0.html in case you want to make this yourself.
Dinners: The first night we grilled up our lamb sausages with squash, zucchini, onions, and garlic. We had some friends over for dinner and they brought a salad of corn, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and basil (all local, of course!).
Another night we grilled up our garlic cheddar hot dogs made with 16 Mile Brewing Co. beer with corn on the cob and steamed dragon tongue beans. If you’ve never tried the garlic cheddar hot dogs from Reid Angus, you have got to go get some. These are hands down the most delicious hot dogs we’ve ever consumed. We’re not fans of bread but bread lovers could have purchased hot dog buns from Old World Breads at the farmer’s market, if they would have liked.
Snack: Because we all know that snacking is going to happen, we used our fresh yogurt and topped it with orange blossom honey from the Honey Hounds to keep our sweet tooth happy.
Contrary to our hypothesis, we actually spent the same amount of money as we normally spent at the chain grocery store on our trip to the Farmer’s Market. Travis Reid, owner of Reid Angus in Frankford, DE, explained that he likes to focus on what he calls “value cuts”. Reid explained that many consumers buy expensive cuts of meat because those are the names they’ve heard of, but other cuts of meat can be just as flavorful while costing significantly less. Reid also likes to focus his efforts on “whole animal butchering” to ensure that as much of the animal as possible is used and to reduce the amount of waste.
Next, we discovered that these fresh, less-processed foods are so much more flavorful. The way the butter smelled while melting in our cast iron skillet was unlike any store-bought butter we’d ever consumed! Even our standard grilled chicken tasted better than we were used to. We also had no problem finding all the ingredients we were used to using from local vendors, the farmer’s market even had a spice vendor for all of your flavor needs.
Finally, we felt a sense of pride knowing that we were supporting small farms and families with our purchases. Looking down at our plates and knowing that every single item on there came from a small, local farm made us feel so proud to live on Delmarva.
Make sure to visit https://www.historiclewesfarmersmarket.org/ for more information on the Historic Lewes Farmers Market.
Now, it’s your turn! We challenge you to eat nothing but locally produced food for an entire week. Don’t forget to let us know how it goes.
*For the purposes of this article, “local food” is defined as food grown or produced on Delmarva. Delmarva is defined as anywhere south of the C&D Canal in Eastern Maryland or Delaware, plus the Eastern Shore of Virginia.