The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Local
Every now and then, on each of my blogs, I will take an old post (or review) and give it new life – bringing it into the present day, when relevant. Since eating healthy and supporting our local communities could not POSSIBLY be more relevant to our present day, I’m revamping a review of a book I was sent a few years ago (It is, of course, still available on Amazon… in fact, the last time I checked the paperback book was under $5!)
Rather than a cookbook, which I typically review on the food blog, this book is more of a live longer, be healthier, help your community, and protect the environment type of book. If that’s your cup of tea (and how could it not be?!), this ambitious and fascinating book is for you.
After reading The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Local (Amazon link) my first thought was, “I wish this were required reading for everybody. Everywhere.” Of course, I have on idea how one would go about enforcing the reading assignment, but I think someone should give it a try.
Seriously, when is supporting local farmers NOT a wonderful idea? When is eating healthier foods NOT a wonderful idea?
As I said, I am revisiting some books, recipes, and articles and placing them in the spotlight thanks to the Pandemic. I get as tired as anyone when people try to imply that only unfit people with pre-existing conditions can get COVID or its variants. Poppycock!
Do people who are out of shape, overweight, or have pre-existing conditions have a harder time with the virus than others. Well, obviously. Sorry to be so blunt, but sometimes common sense comes into play. Yes, even fit and otherwise healthy people can be knocked off their feet with this (or any) virus. However, study after study has proven that those who are overweight or have pre-existing conditions tend to be hit harder.
This isn’t just true of the Coronavirus. It’s true for any disease from influenza to cancer. When we stay as healthy and near our ideal weight as possible, we don’t just make ourselves healthier today, we give ourselves more of a fighting chance when something ugly knocks on our door.
If your imagination is as crazy as mine, think of it in terms of a zombie attack. Picture 240 zombies strolling through town with nothing but eating brains on their mind. As if right out of a movie, cars, buses, planes, helicopters. all forms of transpiration no longer work. Heck even all the bicycles have disappeared.
Who are the people who will stand the best chance of getting away and finding someplace to seek refuge?
The healthiest and most fit. Common sense, whether we’re talking about zombies, viruses, or just about any ugliness you can think of.
If the pandemic has taught us anything… and I like to think it has… it’s this:
- We have got to be prepared for anything that comes our way. This means mentally, physically, and (although I fail particularly miserably with this one) financially. Please don’t ask me to start saving money, I’d stand a better chance in a room with the 240 zombies.
- We need to look out for one another.
- We should always do our part to keep our community strong.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Local (Amazon link) is here to help us check each box.
Supporting local farmers has really grown on people-and here’s the guide to doing it right.
There are so many great reasons to shop for and eat locally grown or raised foods, including freshness, taste, energy conservation, and supporting small business owners. That is why tens of thousands have made the switch to local foods. Now families and communities are enthusiastically supporting farmer’s markets, artisan dairy farmers, cheese makers, family farms, local vineyards, and local livestock. Food expert and nutritionist Diane A. Welland explains what local eating is and isn’t and how anyone can move toward a more sustainable way of eating. It covers: Types of foods considered local; what is in season when; Storing foods; Money saving tips.
• A practical approach for a challenging endeavor.
• Includes a complete overview of local eating across all 50 states.
Front to back, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Local (Amazon link) is an education in wholesome eating. You’ll learn things you never knew you didn’t even know! (Say that three times fast…. but not in front of you cat. They can be so condescending.) You’ll find ways to feed your family healthier meals, and yes, to do so on a budget.
From the Back Cover:
You want to eat healthy, fresh foods, and at the same time, be good to the environment. But it’s a challenge to know what is available, when itis available, and where you can get it locally.
You can find your favorite foods – and discover new favorites – without headaches and a tank of gas. The next best thing to a personal tour through your local farmers’ market, this helpful guide gives you:
- A primer on why eating close to the land not only rewards you with incredible food, but also supports your community and your planet.
- A look at heirloom vegetables, seasonal fruits, fresh meats, and dairy products, and other local food near you.
- Tips for shopping local at food festivals, CSAs, U-picks, and even supermarkets, plus advice on food foraging.
- Suggestions for making the most of your harvest, including 25 regional recipes highlighting local specialties.
Favorite Regional Recipes include Wild Blueberry Muffins, Pennsylvania Dutch Chow-Chow, New York State Apple Pie, Maryland Crab Cakes, Southwestern Stuffed Jalapenos, California Avocado-Almond Salad, Texas Chili, and many more.
I’ll leave you with an excerpt from this outstanding book. It’s from a section titled, Fresh Food Tastes Better… which is a delicious fact:
Local foods, because they’re ripened on the plant rather than in storage, develop high levels of aromatic compounds that help give the food its characteristic taste and heightened flavor. This is most noticeable in fruits, where the intoxicating scent of fresh-picked strawberries or peaches can signal the start of the season even before you pop one into your mouth.
Another reason why local food tastes better has to do with the timing. The longer a food travels, the more flavor and aroma compounds it loses during transit. Because produce is often brought to market within 24 hours of being picked and is at the peak of freshness and ripeness, this isn’t an issue for local farmers. It may, however, be a big concern for food traveling from California to New York.
Finally, local produce tastes better because it is better, inherently. Over the years, supermarket produce varieties have been chosen for their ability to be shipped long distances and withstand harvesting equipment, bulk handling, and processing. They’re bred for sturdiness, stability, and looks, not taste. As a result, we’ve gained the ability to have peaches in the dead of winter and apples in April, but at what cost? Bite into any of these off-season fruits, and you’re likely to find a dry, mealy texture with only a hit of its natural flavor.
On the other hand, local foods are just the opposite. Small farmers care most about taste, quality, and diversity of crops. Raised according to the natural seasons, local produce is picked at the peak of flavor and ripeness and quickly transported for a quick sale. -The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Local, page 20
The author explains the local food movement, how near or far is considered local, what is and is not organic, how eating local is best for your health, how eating local builds a stronger community, how eating local helps our planet. You’ll get a complete education on produce as well as meats, dairy foods, and eggs. There’s also a lot of great advice about freezing and preserving fresh local delicacies so you won’t have to even look at the produce in the stores during the winter months.
This is a wonderful and timely book and I recommend it wholeheartedly.
Read more about The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Local (Amazon link) and grab your own copy while it’s so uncommonly cheap! (See… I can make good financial decisions. Sometimes. Okay, once a year. Maybe.)