10 September 2009

Rules and Exceptions

So the rules:

I'm trying to eat only those foods grown or produced in the state of New York (although we adopt next-door neighbor Vermont when need be). I'm trying to source ingredients, not just where products were packaged. So, for example, I can be fairly sure that peanut butter concoctions made by a Saratoga Springs company (30 miles north) do not satisfy my requirements -- because the peanuts were not grown nearby.

I do a New York State diet rather than a strict 100-mile diet for two reasons. I've found it's a little easier to figure out where food comes from by state, than the actual distance of small towns in the Northeast from where I live in Albany County. Also (it must be confessed), the New York wine grape growing regions -- both Long Island and the Finger Lakes -- are beyond the 100 mile radius. And if I must give up beer for a month, well then, I'll need my wine.

And the exceptions:

Coffee (no debate!), oil, vinegar, spices, yeast, baking soda, and baking powder. Oh, and some fancy Italian tomato paste in a tube. And perhaps lemon juice (I haven't quite decided yet -- I may want it for flavoring baba ganoush and soups). I am giving up chocolate for the month -- which is new from past Septembers.

Many modern 100-mile dieters make exceptions. But so did Laura Ingalls, more than a century ago. In the "Little House" books, Laura dsecribes Pa hunting for meat and Ma making cheese from the cow's milk and sweetener from maple syrup. But the family traded for certain staples, such as coffee and white sugar for when guests came. I'm happy to stick to honey and maple syrup for my sweeteners for a month. But when it comes to cooking in fat, I'm going to opt for vegetable oil over the lard that Ma likely used.

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