A local October

I'm reading this book called "Culinary Intelligence" by food writer Peter Kaminsky right now, which is a) an excellent book on eating well, locally and beneficially for your health and b) not "Ulysses." I give up. So, I'm obsessing over the book, even excitedly explaining ideas and sections to J (which is not that much better than when people try and explain the plots of movies or television shows to someone who hasn't seem them) as I go.

There's nothing that novel in this book, really - eat produce that's in season, eat meat that's been raised responsibly, avoid white flour, etc. - but the fact that Kaminsky is both a wonderful food writer and someone who thoroughly enjoys food (for real) has got me hooked. He remarks, for instance, that he could never imagine giving up wine, as it's such an integral part of a meal, and I was like, "Ok, here's an eating plan I can get on board with."

Reading this book coincided with me having a realization - the kind of realization that occurs a few years after every single person you know has told you exactly this same thing - that I'm never going to get anywhere being angsty about work I should be doing, or worrying about things I should write about.

Instead, I should do lots of things I like, and write about them. And that way, even when the "work" part doesn't pan out, at least I've had fun.

So I thought about how I was enjoying this book so much, and how I get very enthusiastic about the whole sustainable food discussion in general. Also, how I love grocery shopping - no, really - and cooking, although I could be better at it.

Then I thought, well, what if I went as local as possible for one month? October, because, just practically speaking, October was coming up, and because there is still local produce available, although it's a bit more challenging than the summer, and I like challenges. Sometimes I do, anyway.

I thought it might be fun to explore "local" in a bigger sense than just the stuff that's being harvested at nearby farms. There are local dairy and meat farms, too, here in Connecticut, and local beekeepers and much more.

But there are also local, specialty markets I don't often visit, simply because - especially with two young children - it's harder than heading over to the nearby Stop & Shop. There's an amazing cheese store. There's a local, non-chain donut shop. There's a fantastic purveyor of Italian imports.

These places aren't local in the sense that what they offer is grown in Connecticut soil - or even created here in the state - but they're local businesses offering a higher quality alternative to what I normally buy.

I'm interested in cost, of course, wondering if what I'll spend weekly buying more local foods than usual will be more expensive. I am, by the way, under no pretense that I'm going to go entirely local. I'm still going to buy bananas and grains and other decidedly non-local items. As local as possible is my goal. And with that in mind, my guess on the cost being higher is maybe, but I'll be comparing the numbers to find out for sure. There are considerations beyond the price of the food itself, though; when I go to the grocery store, I sometimes over-buy, and we end up throwing things away from time to time. If I'm more careful in my spending, and we eat everything I purchase, the cost could balance out.

I'm also hoping that this endeavor will improve the rut we've hit recently in our at-home cooking. It seems, lately, that we're always stuck on deciding what to make for dinner. I understand this isn't one of the world's most pressing issues, but it stresses me out nonetheless.

Plus, will cooking more, with different ingredients and recipes, get my picky child to eat more...to eat better? This is Nora, I'm talking about, guys. Gabriel is eating his weight in whatever food I put in front of him these days. So, his teenage years should be awesome.

Taking all these considerations into account, I'm doing it. I'm going as local as possible for one month, which is, I imagine in these hyper-aware-and-socially-networked-times, something plenty of others have done.

But my specific goal will be charting how it affects the micro world of this particular four-person family. Well, plus the dogs, who don't really count. And, I guess, plus Mr. Small Toad, who lives in an aquarium in our basement and eats bugs that J collects from the back yard. You seriously can't get any more local than that.