Do you have a ‘locavore’ coming to dinner?

Oct 7, 2011

Some people come over and you love ‘em, but you have to hide the plastic bags, Tupperware and the Teflon pans just so you don’t have to “go there” with them.

Some are organic only (especially with children), limited or no red meat, fish only or vegetarian or vegan (all by choice and principle). And now for a growing number of potential dinner guests, it's locavore, too.

What’s a locavore?

Basically, a locavore is someone who wants to make and eat food that is local. Simple enough, but what’s “local” or local enough and does that mean organic too?

The Locavore song:

The general principle for local has been set by convention and some science as within 100 miles of where you live. That concept was popularized in the book “Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet” by Vancouver, B.C. authors Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon.

But for NW locavore Nancy Ging, who writes a weekly column on the subject in the Bellingham Herald and in her blog Whatcom Locavore, the geographic region she decided on was Whatcom County.

“It is a little less than 100 miles,” she said, “but also I knew that there was enough food in that area. In fact, it is getting to the point where I could practically define it as Lummi Island and be able to eat only things grown here.”

Ging said the popularity of growing local food is increasing in many areas and so the geographic region in which you can find enough food to be a locavore is getting smaller. She has found in her experience and research that small family farming, especially by women who are growing food as a full-time career, is on the rise.

So what’s for dinner?

When a locavore is coming over – who (unlike Ging) really wants to stick to the principle even when visiting (and you just don’t want to disappoint them) – the first step is to go to a local farmers market and/or food co-op to hunt for supplies.

She said it’s not enough to just shop in the right place, you also have to ask for local because some places sell “good” food from California. And, for Ging, the food doesn’t have to be organic.

“In fact, there is local food that I eat that is not organic,” she said. “For instance, practically all of the apple producers in the area use some sort of pest management that is not considered organic.”

Speaking of apples she said, they’re in season and the locavore can at least have the Rustic Apple Tart (see the bottom of this story for the full recipe).

What about spices and oils?

Some use what Ging and others call the Marco Polo rules – spice and oils need not be local. However, the only exceptions she’s had to make in that regard are salt, baking powder and baking soda. On the holidays, she’ll use the Marco Polo exemption to add cinnamon and nutmeg.

Becoming a full locavore is a gradual process, she said. You have to start slow to find out what is really possible in your region.

“I’m still not 100 percent,” she conceded.

The visitor arrives

Ging won’t demand local, but she said it’s fair to ask your locavore to bring a dish. She likes to proselytize the movement by showing what she can make with local food.

“Hopefully, they see how much fun I’m having and try it,” she said.

But, let’s say your guest is unforgiving – what then!?

Author and Texas State University history professor James McWilliams has an answer you can try. His book “Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly” is considered one of the leading books on debunking some general assertions of the locavore reasoning while arguing for vegetarianism.

“My answer would be to assure my angst-ridden locavorian that while all my ingredients will not be locally sourced this evening, they will be entirely plant-based,” he said in an email exchange. “Thus, any guilt you might feel about supporting extra-local farms can be assuaged by the fact that you will be eating in a way that minimizes both animal suffering and environmental impact. Perhaps my well-intentioned but slightly misguided guest will, knees weakened by the quality of a properly cooked vegan meal, declare his newfound intention to center her diet around plants--be they local, regional, or globally sourced.”

“Locavore” movie trailer

You can do this, too

Here’s that recipe Ging says that’s in season and that you can use to make a locavore happy.

Rustic Apple Tart

  • 1 Tbsp honey (Guilmette’s Busy Bees, Bellingham)
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 2-1/4 cup flour (Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill, Bellingham)
  • 1 tsp salt (see Exceptions)
  • 1/2 cup aged gouda cheese, finely grated (Appel Farms, Ferndale)
  • 3/4 cup butter, chilled (Breckinridge Farm, Everson)
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten (neighbor’s roadside stand, Lummi Island)

For filling:

  • 1 lb tart apples, chopped (Cloud Mountain Farm, Everson)
  • 1 Tbsp honey, plus more to drizzle (Guilmette’s Busy Bees, Bellingham)
  • 2 tsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped (home garden, Lummi Island)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, chilled (Breckinridge Farm, Everson)

Instructions:

To make cheesy crust:

Add 1 T. of honey to a 1/2 a cup of ice water and stir vigorously until dissolved. Set aside.

Combine the 2 1/4 c. of flour, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 c. of finely shredded aged gouda cheese and stir until well mixed.

Dice cold butter into 1/4 inch cubes, and combine into flour mixture until crumbly. Mix in egg yolk. Then slowly add the honey water until the crust begins to come together, being careful not to add too much water.

Gather the dough together in a ball and put in a covered container. Refrigerate for half an hour.

Filling, and tart assembly:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Peel, core and chop the apples. In a mixing bowl, combine apples, honey, and rosemary.

On a lightly floured board, roll pie dough out to an 11 inch circle. The dough should be a little thicker than for a pie. Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet or into a lightly buttered 8- or 9-inch cast iron skillet. The edges of the dough can be left roughly shaped to enhance the rustic look.

Spoon filling into the center of the pie shell, piling as high in the center as possible. Leave several inches of pie dough uncovered around the edges if you are working on a baking sheet.

Fold the edges of the shell toward the center around the fruit to hold it in place while cooking.

Dot the apple filling with bits of chilled butter and drizzle with honey. Brush the outside of the crust with a beaten egg wash or melted butter.

Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes, or until golden.

For more locavore recipes, check out Ging's blog.

Are you a locavore or have you had one over for dinner, we'd love to hear your story.

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