Today’s guest blog post is by my friend Natasha. She lives out in the country/Loudoun County and has the loveliest Australian accent. She is a mum of two beautiful children and is passionate about the environment and good food.
I am an environmentalist and a foodie. Put them together and what do you get? Someone who is obsessed with finding the absolute best source of nutritious food for my family. I sometimes find that country living is a curse, but when it comes to feeding my family, I am one of the luckiest people in the world to be able to provide them with the best.
There is something so satisfying about eating fresh berries/peaches/apples/tomatoes/ peppers/spinach/potatoes/onions/garlic/cucumbers that were grown less than 5 miles from your home. Something so satisfying about going to a farm and seeing a cow/lamb/pig/chicken forage and knowing that the meat you’re preparing for your family once foraged in that same grass. I love being a locavore.
The term locavore was something foreign to me less than 4 years ago. I didn’t know there was a term for what I did. I didn’t want my choices to be seen as trendy or cool. I simply wanted to do what was right for my family and Mother Earth. Eating an organic red pepper in January that was imported from Israel or Holland doesn’t quite feel right to me. So, I buy a bushel of peppers from a local farm and I freeze them for the winter. I’m getting them at the pinnacle of freshness and good taste and I’m making the right choice for our earth and my children are eating food that was grown in perfect soil, which means they’re getting all the nutrients their brains need to grow. Win/Win. Though, making these choices is costly and we had to buy a large chest freezer for storage, I find that this is the only choice I have. Many will argue that we’re all fine and we were raised on it. Well, actually no, I wasn’t. And who knows what the long-term affects of pesticides and chemically treated food will be. I’d rather not take that chance on my two greatest possessions.
I was raised by a “village” and two of the prominent members of that village were my wonderful grandparents who brought their four children to Australia from a small village in Italy 56 years ago. My grandfather had more fruit trees on his 1 acre of land than anyone I’ve ever known in my life: figs, apricots, lemons, tangerines, oranges. He also had the best grapes known to mankind; I can still taste them when I close my eyes and remember. His garden was full of luscious tomatoes, basil, peppers, zucchinis, everything, anything he could grow. Not one chemical was ever sprayed on his garden. And we ate everything they grew. They canned their tomatoes for the winter. Living this way was not a choice for them; they were very poor and this was their only means for survival. Canned goods, convenient foods, fast food and junk foods were not available. Lucky them. My passion for food was created when I ate the first foods from my grandparents garden. And it’s in this spirit that I try to carry on the traditions from my ancestors: Grow as much as you can, (and if you can’t, get it from a local farm); get your meat from a local source; preserve the land; eat simply.
Getting organic produce that was shipped here from Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and Holland in the middle of winter isn’t exactly my idea of being “green” even if they are organic. So, I make a choice to skip those items. I teach my children that we cannot get certain items in the middle of winter: raspberries for example are not in season in February, so I know you want them darling, but no we cannot buy them. Raspberries are in season during our summer months and we can get them from a farm less than a mile from our home. They don’t have pesticides sprayed on them, they are perfect in every single way. I want my children to know where their food comes from and when it is in season. During the winter months, I buy seasonal vegetables and only food grown in the United States. Okay, I break the rules and get bananas, but that’s only because they make a great snack and awesome smoothies. Yes, I want my children to eat healthy food, but I want them to know that you can’t buy strawberries in January. I think it is vital to teach children about the seasonality of our food. Fall is coming and our apples come from a local farm that uses very little pesticides and they are apples we’ve picked ourselves. Because my apple lady does spray, I come home and give those apples an acid wash bath made with white vinegar and water.
I also take my children to local farms to get our eggs and meat products. Teaching (indoctrinating/brainwashing) them early that cows weren’t meant to eat corn is something that’s extremely important to me. I feel very strongly that my children learn to do what is right; both for their health and for our earth. You can help support local farms and eat food closer to the source too. Below is a list of my favorite local farms:
Day Spring Farm (lamb, chicken, Scottish Highland Beef and turkey)
Woodtrail Graziers (pork, Belted Galloway beef)
Chicama Run (eggs)
Trickling Springs Creamery (milk, butter)
Polyface Farms has delivery points in Northern Virginia for beef, pork, eggs, chicken
Potomac Vegetable Farms (veggies)
Moutoux Orchard (peaches, veggies)
Allder School Berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, figs)
Thanks Natasha for this wonderful blog post. See you this weekend for your family’s photo shoot!