Amber Waves of Grain

December 12, 2009 § Leave a comment

As I move closer and closer to my official start date, realizations about how I will be eating next year begin to creep up.  It occurs to me that starting this experiment in the dead of winter without having stored up anything from the summer was probably not the smartest idea.  But I’m all in now, so I’ll just have to figure it out.  There is still winter squash out there, and some greenhouse lettuce, and stored potatoes, cabbage, and apples. And meat. Lots of meat. I have a sneaky feeling I have inadvertently put myself on the Atkins Diet until summer.

Which leads me to this issue… What grains do I eat, in any season? What grains even grow in this foodshed?

I know one place that sells whole wheat flour and wheatberries (Moutoux Orchards), but i haven’t seem them at the Dupont Market in a while. And I’m betting I’ll go through that pound of Moutoux flour I have in my freezer pretty quickly.  I’m wondering if I can get rice, oats or corn grits (polenta) anywhere around here, because if it came down to it i could happily survive on polenta with local goat cheese and cream for… well forever probably.

I have decided that I will probably need to have some not 100% local white flour in my pantry, because you just can’t do everything with whole wheat. BUT, it will be organic and will only be used sparingly, not as a main component of a meal.  White flour is terrible for you anyway, so I’ll be better off with out it.

Even if I can find my own grains, what about legumes? I love lentils and beans, and they are so good for you… is it even profitable for farmers to grow such things for sale? There are so many huge operations out there.  I have seen lima beans and such during the late summer at the Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction, so I might just have to wait until then.  But even if a bean crisis does arise, you can be rest assured I will not be using canned beans.  The whole bisphenol-A leaking into my food from the can thing turns me off. Rather a lot.

And so it seems that I am desperately searching for those two staples of most of the world- beans and rice.  The fact that I am complaining about only being able to eat grass-fed meat and organic vegetables, while missing out on beans and rice, would probably get me shot in most countries. I spent some time staying in orphanages in the Dominican Republic many years ago, and it was there I first learned about the realities of food shortages, and how cooking for others was truly an act of love and hospitality. I lived on red beans and rice.  Then the women slaughtered a goat, and served it for supper, braised and soaking in its own delicious juices.  I’ve never felt so honored, or so humbled.

Living on an island takes food security to another level.  As a young woman who had never thought about where food came from (except the grocery store of course), it amazed me that they raised their own chickens and goats, and could feed themselves off their own land.  Living in DC, i can’t quite do that yet… but someday I will.  I can visit the place my food is grown and raised, spend time there, and absorb the place that nurtures the food that nourishes me. At least for now, knowing that the food I eat is grown by the land and hand of people I know and trust will have to be enough.

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