Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fruit Calculus

So, part of my eating local "strategery" is to estimate how much food (in this case fruit) I might need to preserve or store for the part of the year that I can't buy it fresh, which is approximately 6 months/26 weeks between November/December and May in Georgia. I generally eat two cups of fruit each weekday morning (and go for the "works" on the weekend--bacon, eggs and fried potatoes). So, I estimate at the beginning of the fruiting season that I will need to put up X amount of this and X amount of that, which is all very fine and good, but then life happens and I just put up what I can on the weekends and in the odd, wonderful moments between work and play that usually characterize my relationship with my food.

Early this spring, with help from friends, I picked about a total of 12 gallons of strawberries ($10/gallon PYO) at Washington Farms in Watkinsvillege. In one big marathon, I froze about 20 pints. For the rest of strawberry season I ran over to Washington Farms after riding and picked the odd gallon (which took approximately 15 minutes) to eat for breakfast and froze the odd pint or so if they started to get too ripe. That didn't happen too often, though, since I am a stawberry eating machine. Then, blueberries started coming in, and I had the pleasure and privelege of picking blueberries at Covenant Grove Farm (where George lives) for free. Early in the season, after riding George I picked enough for breakfast and then when they really started coming in, I picked and froze about 6 gallons for the winter. Then it was peaches time! Yay! I bought about 24 peaches for $16 each week (for about 6 weeks) at Thomas orchard in Watkinsville. Generally I went on a Monday and a Friday morning after riding at the barn. The owner of the orchard and his father, who sits in a rocking chair by the peach table with his old dog, began to expect me after a while and always asked me if I'd had a good ride. I ate about three peaches a day and froze the ripest ones when they started to get soft. Then this last week, as peaches come to a close, I bought 4 buckets of peaches and canned 23 pints. Pears are just getting ripe now, and there are two trees at the barn that make offerings all night long. I pick a bucket of the not too badly damaged ones in the morning after my ride, and take them home for breakfast. I had accumulated about three buckets today and canned 17 pints.

In a lovely conclusion to my efforts at preserving this fruiting season, I just counted that I have 131 pints of fruit frozen and canned, which is exactly 26 weeks worth of fruit for my breakfasts, which is exactly what I need. I was not really keeping track, just hoping that my efforts would be adequate enough, and if not, I would supplement with fruit from god knows where. Who says the universe doesn't provide when your heart and your efforts are sincere? And for about $240 (plus the huge generosity of friends and my own time and energy) I am able to eat two cups of local fruit each day (some of it organically grown) for an entire year. Who says local is more expensive?

I think people are stopped from making efforts to eat locally because they are blocked by the idea that it can't be done, or that it will be too expensive. I think that it can be done quite handily, and my efforts prove that it isn't too expensive if you are willing to change your habits and patterns--your lifeworld, as it were--to do it. And what makes it all possible are the relationships that surround all these efforts--the Smiths especially who share their abundance for free and all the other farmers and orchardists who share it for very little money, and who come to know me and appreciate me, which is its own wonderful reward.

Eat well and be well! You can do it!