From today’s Rapid City Journal:
Could you eat only local foods for week?
Calla Eidem, 7, holds an onion she picked from the family garden on Thursday, August 26, 2010. (Ryan Soderlin/Journal staff)
DeAnn Eidem likes to can, freeze and eat garden-fresh produce. So when her friends invited her to be part of a local foods contest, she thought, “Why not?”
“I like a challenge,” she said.
It meant shopping at the Black Hills Farmers Markets at Founders Park, which is only open three times a week, sifting through recipes for using produce and keeping a diary about the experience.
It wasn’t difficult, she said.
Her family’s diets didn’t change that much with ample selections of vegetables, fruits, milk and eggs available at the market stands, she said.
Because of her children’s food sensitivities, Eidem had to buy flour products from Montana — more than the 200-mile radius of the contest — to make her own bread. Yet she was able to buy these ingredients as well as gluten-free cookies at a Rapid City food cooperative and the farmers market.
She introduced her family to goat’s milk and learned to make cheese.
“It was surprisingly fun and enlightening,” Eidem said.
Eidem participated in last month’s Eat Local Challenge initiated by Tanya Gomez of the Dakota Local Food Network. Gomez was inspired to organize the contest after reading “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver.
“Food has always been something that I’m passionate about,” Gomez said.
Eidem and Barb Cromwell, both of Rapid City, tied for first in the challenge. Liz Field of Rapid City was influenced by her daughter, Lisa, to participate, too. Both Fields received honorable mentions in the one-week contest.
“We didn’t eat much different than we had before, and most of the time, the food tasted better,” Liz Field said.
Beets, boiled new potatoes, broccoli and rhubarb pie made with homegrown, ground whole-wheat flour were mealtime favorites.
“We did eat more vegetables, and there were many more opportunities to eat local meats,” Field said.
The Fields made and preserved pesto sauce for the food-storage portion of the challenge.
“We’ll use it over rice or pasta this coming winter,” she said.
Eidem, who grows her own vegetable garden, will can and freeze produce for the oncoming winter months. She liked the idea of spending most of her grocery budget on produce supporting local farmers.
“I didn’t know how well I would be able to do it,” she said.
Eidem also made an interesting discovery.
“We can make an almost local pizza,” she said.
All the toppings, sauces and even the cheese were either local or something she made.
The Eidem family invited friends over, had the ingredients ready and created a dinner and a pizza party at the same time.
Guests can make their own pizzas, eating them as they are grilled. There is plenty of time to enjoy a glass of wine, relax and visit, she said.