Guest Post: Adventures in Eating Locally with the Proctor Family

Meet the Proctor Family! They're a family of four in Bloomington-Normal trying their best to eat entirely local food one day each week, and they've graciously agreed to share their adventures.

Follow Neal, Maggy, Lydia, and baby Adalyn as they shop, chop, dice, grill, and even grow local food this summer in an effort to not only eat fresh, wholesome meals, but to support their community, and live a little greener. Each week, they'll share their stories and their creations right here on our blog. Are you up for eating locally once a week? Follow the Proctor Family and find out.

Neal, Maggy, Lydia, and baby Adalyn

Week 1: Porkchops and Learning Curves

April 30 - May 6

Fueled by our passion for high quality food and a desire to learn more about locally available produce, Maggy and I have decided to take on the challenge of eating entirely locally sourced food one day a week. We plan to share our experience with everyone in hopes of not only showing off pictures of our awesome meals, but also to educate those who are curious about the ins and outs of eating local. The first thing that most people think when it comes to eating local is that it’s too expensive. Our hope is, throughout the summer, we are able to learn from our experiences and improve on our ability to economically source delicious, local, and sustainably raised food. Before we go into details on our first Sunday eating locally, there are some important facts that should be shared.

  • This is not a non-GMO, organic, antibiotic-free household. Our mission is to economically source our food from local producers first and foremost. While some producers may choose to raise their products in this way, and we applaud their efforts, our only true requirement is that the product by locally raised.

  • While much of our food will come from farmers markets and local food providers, we have a few sources of our own food:

  • A modest backyard garden which includes tomatoes, peppers, green beans, zucchini, cucumber, radishes, and various herbs.

  • We purchased 1/3 of lamb from Caveny Farm this spring, which amounted to roughly 17lbs of meat. To be honest, Maggy and I are not even sure we like lamb, but we’ll have plenty of opportunities to try it.

  • Maggy grew up on a farm and come late summer, we will have an endless supply of sweetcorn from her parents.

  • Each week, we’ll include a brief description of the meals and a corresponding cost summary. For the sake of simplicity, we will only include the main ingredients in this portion. While we will do our best to source sauces and seasonings locally, the amount used in a single meal often doesn’t amount to enough cents to make it worthwhile to tally into the total.

  • For the sake of cost analysis, the meals we prepare will be for a family of three. We have a two-year-old daughter and a two-month old daughter. The oldest will usually eat what we do, and in the event that she does not, I generally will make up for that third person :)

Now let’s get to the fun part. To say that we were ill-prepared for week one of our adventure would be an understatement. It took roughly three trips around the farmer’s market to develop a halfhearted meal plan for the day. As busy parents, we decided to plan for a brunch and a dinner. This weekend meal plan generally bodes well for us, as our Saturdays and Sundays are always filled with activities. The food was delicious, but our lack of planning forced us into some purchases that, let’s just say, weren’t very economical.

Lydia is such a good helper at the farmers market.

Being the first farmers market of the year, produce selection is still somewhat limited. For this reason, we stuck to the basics: Meat, eggs, bread, potatoes, lettuce, and radishes. For brunch, fresh baked honey-oat bread combined with breakfast sausage and farm fresh eggs made for delicious breakfast sandwiches. For dinner, we were able to get a little more creative. Some bone in pork chops, fingerling potatoes, fresh lettuce and some “breakfast” radishes came together for a delicious meal. We made our own balsamic vinegar/red wine glaze for the chops and a lemon and herb aioli for the potatoes. The lettuce and radishes combined with some homemade croutons (a brilliant, last-minute idea from Maggy to use our leftover bread) made a great salad.

Plow Creek Farm bread and Destiny Meats sausage, plus local eggs from a vendor I can't remember (We'll get better at this!)

Nothing like a good breakfast sandwich.

Veggies from PrairiErth Farm at the farmers market and bone-in pork chops from Destiny Meats.

We're all about "the sear" in this home.

The food was delicious, but it came at a small price:

Breakfast:

1lb Breakfast Sausage (Destiny meats, Danvers IL): $7.00

½ Loaf fresh bread (Plow Creek Bakery, Tiskilwa, IL): $3.50

½ Dozen Chicken eggs (Local out of Bloomington, IL): $1.75

Subtotal: $12.25 ($4.10/person)

Dinner:

1.16lb Bone in Pork Chops (Destin meats, Danvers IL): $8.70

2lb Fingerling Potatoes (Forgot name, Atlanta IL): $3.50

Head of lettuce (Cook Farms, Bloomington, IL): $2.50

1 Bundle Breakfast Radishes (Forgot name, Atlanta IL): $3.00

Subtotal: $17.70

Total: $29.95

Per Person Total: $10.00

We did have some leftover bread and we have been able to use that throughout the week. We also bought another package of bone in pork chops, which we will be able to use down the road sometime. At $10.00 a person for the day, without any real basis for comparison, I will give us a “C” on the economic side of things. While the meat was delicious, this particular producer provides a “non-GMO” product, which is not part of our requirements and likely was more expensive than a GMO product. Going forward, we plan to utilize not only the lamb we purchased, but also search our local butcher shops for some locally raised, hopefully more economical, meat options. On the produce side of things, I do believe that as some of these products become more “in season” prices will drop as more farmers are able to bring these crops to market. That is all for this week, we will see what Mother’s Day weekend brings for us!

Grilled pork chops, smashed potatoes, and a salad featuring fresh radishes and homemade croutons....it was a feast!

#ThoughtsonSustainability

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