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Eating Locally - March Soup

One of the goals of our Entropy Pawsed project is to produce or procure all of our food locally.

We want to know where our food comes from. The widely publicized outbreaks of food borne illness from products distributed not just nationwide but worldwide speak to the wisdom of knowing the origin of our food.

Our preferred food source is our own land. We know what goes into, and what comes out of, our little garden plot, and we know how it is handled, processed and stored. We now how to locate and identify wild edible plants – greens, mushrooms, nuts, berries and other fruit.

Our chickens roam freely (except when our German Shepherd Dog attempts to herd them) and supply us with eggs without hormones or antibiotics.

We tap our sugar maple trees in the spring. A few weeks of boiling down sap results in enough syrup (last year we made 36 pints) to last us a year.

Neighbors with fruit trees and larger gardens share their bounty. We share our eggs and maple syrup. Everyone shares their accumulated gardening and preserving wisdom.

We participate in a food co-op with neighbors. Co-op members buy local meat in bulk, and store it in one member's centrally located freezer. We have seen our local Mennonite butcher's immaculate meat processing facility that sits behind his house on his farm.

There are several local bakers who produce whole grain breads, bagels, and granola along with the occasional decadent sweet treat. We enjoy the aromas from the ovens when we stop in the bakeries.

A nearby farmer brings his dairy products to the local library. We have watched his cow basking in the sun, contentedly chewing the bright green grass in her pasture. Since health department regulations prohibit the direct sale of milk products to the public, we buy a “cow share” from the farmer. This “cow share” enables us to receive fresh milk, butter and yogurt, and supports the cow's pasture-al lifestyle.

Yes, these local products are usually more expensive than the mass-produced, high food mileage, high fructose corn syrup and preservative laden varieties available at big box grocery stores. And they are vastly superior in quality, taste and nutrition. And our food dollars support the local economy.

Eating locally contributes to our sense of place. We know our neighbors, the farmer, the butcher, the bakers, the chickens and the cow. We know what the land produces in what season. We know that what we put into our bodies comes from the local soil, water, air and efforts of local producers.

Here is our recipe for “March Soup” made (except for the optional salt and pepper) entirely from local foods:

½ pound each ground sausage and beef

4 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 quart canned tomatoes

1 quart canned green beans

1 tsp each dried parsley, sage and basil

1-3 Tbs maple syrup (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Throughly brown the ground meat. Add remaining ingredients plus enough water for desired consistency. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes and squash are soft, usually 20-30 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to stand to 1-2 hours (or store overnight in the refrigerator) for flavors to blend. Bring to a boil again for 10 minutes. Served garnished with fresh chopped chives or other green. Serves 6-8.

Editorial Notes: This article continues the EntropyPawsed series intended to further the discussion on designing for sustainable human lifestyles. The series is a multi-part educational program originally designed for the Yeshiva University, Albert Einstein School of Medicine Social Medicine course.

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