Sunday, January 25, 2009

Local, Raw, and Bartered

This was my breakfast this morning: yogurt and honey. What makes this simple meal so special to me is that both ingredients are local, sustainably produced, raw, and I bartered for them.

I bartered for a quart of the raw milk yogurt just a few days ago. The texture of the yogurt when I opened the container was slightly lumpy, and the creamy fat had risen to the top. The taste reminded me of the superb yogurt I'd bought at a farmer's market in Europe. It bears absolutely no resemblance to store-bought yogurt. I stirred up the yogurt until it was smooth again and served myself some.

Now I confess that "local" in this case is a bit of a stretch by my standards. This yogurt comes from a farm almost 80 miles (128 km) away. That's very local by US standards, but incredibly distant by average global standards. I don't know of any closer dairy that raises their cows on grass, sells raw-milk products, and avoids hormones and antibiotics. And I would know, because I'm well connected to the sustainable farming network in my area. For the moment, 80 miles is the best I can do for sustainable cow's milk dairy. I don't do the driving myself either. The yogurt arrived at my house by way of the farmer who uses my home as a customer pick-up site for pre-ordered, grass-fed meats, dairy, and eggs every other week. So the food is delivered to my home, and I can barter my bread for it. And yes, I do feel pretty smug about that, in case you were wondering.

The raw honey is produced much, much closer to home, and I know the beekeeper personally. This is the lightest of her three honeys from last year's harvest. I'm almost out of it, but it sure is good. Just eight miles (13 km) away, she has an apple and pear orchard that she sprays only with baking soda, and she keeps hens along with a few hives of bees. Again, I bartered some homemade baked goods for a jar of this pure, raw honey.

Breakfast was absolutely delicious in its own right. Knowing that the constituent parts were produced completely sustainably, and acquired reasonably sustainably, and that I bartered for them, and that they are really healthy for me only makes this simplest of meals that much more satisfying.

I don't manage to prepare many meals in this fashion. But when I do pull it off, I'm inspired to keep trying more and more to live my life this way.


Anonymous said...

That's fantastic. It's great when you can pull off such a sustainable meal isn't it. I would feel pretty smug too - good for you!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I wish I knew of any grass-fed beef in the greater LA area (that didn't come from the Whole Foods Market), let alone localish. How do you use baking soda for pest control?

Joanne said...

Mmm, lovely breakfast. Keeping food miles down is very difficult in most modern cities and suburbia. I'm just starting out in a simpler life and that part is too daunting at the moment.

Anonymous said...

We get our honey about 15 miles from where we live, but its only about 4 miles from my in-laws so when we are over to see them we stop by and pick up our honey. Its so cool, you pull up in his drive-way and get the honey out of a box and leave your money in a jar. This man has written a book called "A Very Small Farm". It is the sweetest little book and worth reading. I just found out that there is a dairy about 35 miles from where we live but haven't gotten over there. Its on my to do list and after seeing your wonderful breakfast it makes me want to do it all the more. I want to make my own cheese and butter from good fresh milk. Yum!

Anonymous said...

Wow, you've given me a lot to think about!

Kate said...

Mrs Dirty Boots, it's nice to have a visit from someone with similar traits. Thanks for stopping by.

Jessica, the baking soda spray is used only to control sooty mold, not insect pests.

Joanne, yes the food miles are a challenge. We've addressed that to a large degree with our expanded vegetable gardening, but animal products remain challenging. There are four farmers relatively close to me who practice sustainable and human animal husbandry. But the dairy farm is much farther away, so we're doing what we can.

DiElla, thanks for the reading recommendation. I'll see if my library can get it for me.

NFTFT, Thanks for stopping by.

Calamity Jane said...

just found your blog which i will definitely bookmark.
thought i'd share a barter story you're not likely to have heard:
i live in Cordova, Alaska. this last fall, not being able to get out hunting myself, i put up a flyer on our local bulletin boards advertising my butchering services in exchange for wild meat. this seemed a great idea to me, lots of folks barter their game but i'd never seen a flyer up about it.
then i found out why.
the first phone call was from the state trooper (cops).
to be fair, the guy was very nice, even almost apologetic. explained that it's illegal to trade your hunted meat, and that i'd better go take my signs down.
now, like i said, people trade meat in Cordova (and i suspect every other hunting locale) as a matter of course. i even detected something in his voice that said "just don't advertise about it"
this story has a happy ending. a few days after taking my flyers down, i got another phone call. someone with a moose who'd never butchered meat before and wasn't even remotely deterred by the trooper's warning. i spent three days (apx. 20 hours) cutting and packing his moose, including one afternoon with him and his son, showing them how to do it, and took one quarter of the meat-- some 60+ pounds of incredibly high quality, "organic, free-range, sustainable" meat. yea for barter!
while i'm here, we share many of the same favorite homesteading/food books, but have you read The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: A Guide to America's Underground Food Movements, by Sandor Ellix Katz???? this is my absolute fave.
if you're interested, i also have a blog, it's

Kate said...

Meadow, that's a great story. It's nice that the officer clearly gave you the non-verbal message about just not advertising. It sounds like the trade was win-win.

I have heard of Sandor Katz and have been somewhat interested in his fermented revolution. I'm trying to get over my deep lack of appreciation for pickled things. I admire what he does, I've just always disliked briny-tasting things.