It's that time of year once again when those "Eat Local Challenge" promotions start to appear. Local and seasonal is what we're all about, of course; that's the Trout Caviar credo. It's the "challenge" part we don't care for. It used to seem that our Upper Midwest summers lasted about two months, if we were lucky. You had your fill of green beans, sweet corn, and tomatoes from late June 'til Labor Day, and then it was canned peas and frozen broccoli for the rest of the long, dismal fall, winter, and spring.
That is no longer the case. With growing awareness of the vast variety of vegetables we can grow here, with expanding tastes and knowledge of delicious ways to preserve food, with farmers' markets where we can shop for fresh produce up to Thanksgiving and sometimes beyond, it is truly a brave new world of local eating, even here in the frozen North.
And so here is what I suggest we do with it: Celebrate. If we can't meet the "challenge" of local eating at this time of year, if we even have to promote the idea in those terms, I fear the cause is lost.
But I know it's not a lost cause, not at all. So celebrate, rejoice, exult, and dig in. There isn't a better time of year for great local food, nor, in my humble opinion, a better place for it than right here. But, I may be biased....
(The photo is our friend Melinda's birthday "diorama," as she puts it. She likes food and she doesn't like things, so each August we put together a bounteous basket of good things to eat from garden, woods, and stream (I haven't gotten out to the stream much this year, so no fish in this one). This is actually a rather restrained example.)
Text and photo copyright 2008 by Brett Laidlaw