Saturday, June 28, 2008

One Local Summer!

Farm to Philly is hosting the One Local Summer Challenge. The idea of the challenge is quite simple, prepare one meal a week using entirely local ingredients. The exceptions for local ingredients are salt, pepper and oil. Simple enough, right?

Given that this sort of thing is right up my alley, I signed up for the challenge enthusiastically. Well, here it is, June 28th-- a full 28 days after the challenge started and I have yet to make a single meal using completely local ingredients. I guess living in Alaska this has turned out to be not quite as simple as I was expecting, especially early in the season.

The fish are late and running in low numbers, the days have been overcast and the nights cool which have the farms producing much more slowly than normal. My garden has gotten off to a slow (and basically non-existent) start.

I've been out of town, on Adak Island for a week...but up until the point that I left my lack of local eating certainly hadn't been for lack of trying. While I had suceeded in consuming several locally produce reindeer hot dogs, the farmers markets have just been empty of produce and the like. I realized after leaving Anchorage that I still have a freezer full of last year's locally caught (by me) salmon, and Alaska grown potatoes in the pantry...but for some reason, those never occured to me for this challenge. It's summer, I was thinking fresh!

Because the markets and the fish have been so slow in starting, I was thinking of expanding my local boundaries to include my shipments from Full Circle Farms. Given that this is Alaska, and even during the best growing season, there are so many limitations on what can be grown here, that wouldn't have felt like stretching the rules TOO much, if all of their produce was actually Northwest Grown. Since it's not, it felt like too big a stretch. I have decided, however, that the 100 mile rule doesn't make sense to in Alaska, and for this challenge, I will be including anything grown/produced or harvested in Alaska in my eating locally challenge.

Thankfully, I saw the good news on's root cellar, that the produce is starting to roll in at Anchorage farmer's markets. I can't wait to go shopping for some local fair when I get back. I can stop considering having to add FCF produce to my local eating challenge. In the meantime, I'll offer a picture of the local fair I've been able to sample while on Adak Island.

While out conducting archaeological survey two days ago, another crew member and I were lucky enough to stumble upon a field of ferns, fiddle heads still present! We gladly whipped out an artifact collect back (nothing more than a glorified Ziploc) and harvested some fresh greens. They were a very welcome addition to dinner that night, sauted with a little garlic and oil...especially given the limited amount of produce our crew has on this trip. The look a little bit like Brussel Sprouts, don't they?

We tossed them on top of our Spaghetti Alfredo-- the freshness and crunch they added was just perfect and so delicious! Sadly, no pictures of that final product.

Actually, scratch that. At the pictures on any product! The internet connection here in the middle of the Aleutians is crazy sketchy, and it won't let me attach any pictures. I'll upload them just as soon as I can!

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