Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cleaning out the cupboards

In the past couple of days weird things have happened - all related, but unrelated. On Wednesday, I received a message on my blog from a reporter at the Globe and Mail. She's writing profiles of people who she refers to as "industrial food drop-outs." Interesting. She called me and asked a number of questions about my food choices, why I choose to eat locally and where I get my groceries. Apparently, she had found my blog and liked it. That was nice to hear.

That same day I received a telephone call from someone at OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs). She had also read my blog and was following me on Twitter. A group of videographers are putting together a piece on the local food movement for their website. They wanted to ask me about my food choices, what eating locally means to me and where I get my groceries. Interesting. They're set to come to my house sometime next week to check out my cupboards, my fridge and my freezer in the basement.

If that wasn't enough, the next morning I get a message from Sarah Elton, author of Locavore, asking me about my urban (rural) root cellar. She's writing a piece for the Globe and Mail and I had responded to one of her questions on Twitter.

All this local food interest got me thinking - are my cupboards, fridge, freezer and root cellar presentable? Am I who I say I am? Or, am I living a lie? It's true that for a while I was so hardcore local that I felt overwhelmingly guilty when I even bought a lemon. Since then, though, I've let some things slide. I don't think that they expect everything in my cupboard to be local, but maybe they do. So, I decided to do a little kitchen overhaul - clean out my cupboards, so to speak. And here's what I found:

There is a LOT of stuff in my cupboards. A lot of food I'd been given by a friend's mom who moved away. Things like rice, rice, pasta and rice. None of it local. None of it organic. My baking cupboard is bursting with packages of sugar, graham cracker crumbs, bread crumbs, herbs, spices, flour, bran, etc. Some are local. Some are organic. Some was even grown by me. But most of it was not. There is much work to be done in the dried goods department. The cereals are all organic, the flour is local, as are the peanut butter and honey jars. I even have organic, local rainbow popcorn in there. But what about the oils, vinegars, boullion cubes, and spices? Could I do without those?

Then I opened my fridge. The condiments looked guilty. How did these things make their way into my fridge and did I actually ever use any of them? Not really. The fruits and vegetables in my fridge, however, were all purchased at the Guelph Farmers' Market,  making them 100% local and almost 100% organic. Not too bad.

My freezer is another story altogether. I am quite proud of my freezer. There is not a single company logo in my freezer and it's full! Yay! I don't have to clean the freezer out. It is filled with bags of local blueberries, strawberries, apples, peaches, and nectarines. There are packages of vegetables preserved from my garden. The meat is either wild game (duck, goose, deer, and fish) from Manitoba, meat I've purchased from the Hutterites, or meat from Magda Farm. Three cheers for the freezer!!! 100% local. There are about 40 old yogurt containers filled with homemade soups of every kind. Those soups were made with ingredients that I either grew myself or purchased from the Farmers' Market. Now that is something to be proud of.

Finally, my pride and joy - the canned goods cupboards. Every summer I can just about anything you can keep in jars. One look in my cupboards had me grinning from ear to ear. Brightly coloured jars of pickles, asparagus, tomato sauce, apricots, peaches, pears, beets, hot peppers and roasted red peppers line the shelves.

Yes, there are some things in my cupboards that I'm not so proud of, but a thorough investigation of them all proved that there was much that I could be proud of. Bring on the cameras OMAFRA, my cupboards are clean!


  1. Hi Mel,

    I've just come upon your blog and think what a great adventure you're having going local. I can identify with how you must have felt when reviewing your food at home, wondering to yourself if you actually practice what you eat (preach). I'm often thinking the same thoughts when, on a daily basis, I instruct patients on the virtues of regular stretching (I'm a chiropractor) but not always keeping up with my own advice. But whether we're improving health through food or exercise, I find that it's always a work in progress.

    My wife and I have just moved to Guelph and are slowly starting to take advantage of the variety of local/sustainable food available here. I'm just learning more about the locavore movement and was wondering if you know of any events or seminars coming up in the area?

    Mark Kubert

  2. Mark, I would gladly teach you and Julie how to can, etc if you're interested. Sorry for the late reply, but as you said, better late than never.