It seems ironic that one of my last meals of the year was at Cubanitas.
Don't get me wrong. The meal was fantastic. Our appetizer of plaintains and guacamole, my arroz con pollo and mojito -- all top quality. And I am forever grateful to my friend Larissa for the treat, since I am still walletless until tomorrow.
The irony lies in the fact that 2008 was the year I discovered the joys and the importance of eating locally.
It began back in March when my friends and I decided to experiment with Community Supported Agriculture. We went to an open house at the Urban Ecology Center and selected Rare Earth Farm to fill our fresh produce needs for the summer. Little did I know how that would set the course of my life.
Suddenly I learned to love vegetables. I learned new recipes and learned how to save what I wasn't using. I didn't do as much of this as I could have. But I was learning. I learned to freeze. I was inspired to make stocks and freeze those. I really got into it. More than my fellow sharemates. I ended up renewing with a friend with a similar passion for fresh food for next year.
Around the same time I tried my hand at balcony gardening. This was also an educational process. I succeeded until the drought hit in August. Then I got lazy with maintenance. Next year.
My kinetic interests led to self-education through reading. Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle inspired me to get serious about this stuff. Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food is slightly cracked open, but when I finish will probably shape my views going into '09. I found loads of other bloggers facing my same challenges and triumphs, especially through my participation in the Eat Local Challenge.
Yes, I began to participate both on and offline in the world of food. I joined the Southeastern Wisconsin chapter of Slow Food. I attended incredible events like the Milwaukee Public Market's Moo & Brew and the Slow Food Flooded Farms Fundraiser at La Merenda.
I regularly hit up my neighborhood farmer's market. At the end of the season I discovered the Fondy Farmers Market, where I'll definitely go next year. I also have my hopes set on returning to Growing Power.
Diets never worked for me, I never cared about the scientific impact of the food. I've lost weight however, eating healthier by caring about the cultural and economic impact of the morsels I'm consuming.
My awareness of food has changed my spheres in 2008. I'm glad people are listening to me, even if they are not changing their own habits. Talking about it definitely paid off under the Christmas tree, as I could not be more excited to receive a pressure cooker, a food mill and the world's greatest potato peeler this year.
2009 local eating, here I come!