Although summer took a leisurely stroll to arrive in the Puget Sound, it is here now and bringing with it a bounty of delicious food.  From baby beets to local spot prawns to ripe raspberries, there is much local food to enjoy this time of year. On our sister blog, Wine Beer Washington, we featured a local Puget Sound winery, Bainbridge Island Vineyard and Winery, for July. We decided to take it a step further here and focus on local eating and drinking.  We will talk about “what grows together, goes together” this month and culminate it with a 100 mile dinner on July 30th.

Farm fresh vegetables

Farm fresh vegetables

Food movements come and go but the locavore movement has been steadily growing over the last couple of years.  In 2007, it was the Oxford dictionary word of the year but what does it really mean? Locavores, (aka localvores) take on the challenge to eat locally grown and produced food for a day, a week, a month or a lifetime. While many locavores take it on as a challenge and restrict their diets to locally grown products, other simply prefer the taste and environmental benefits of foods that are fresh, seasonal, and grown close to home.

What are the benefits of eating and drinking local?

When it comes to eating local food, it is so much easier to get fresh food. It goes without saying that those Wenatchee apples are probably fresher than the ones from New Zealand. Seasonal eating comes into play, but if both apples were picked and enjoyed in peak season, that Wenatchee apple is going to be fresher. Food changes as it ages and the faster you get it after harvest the more it holds true.

Fresh ripe peaches

Fresh ripe peaches and nectarines

The closer you are to the source of the food, the easier it is to delight in produce at the peak of freshness. Perfectly ripe fruit is delicious and fragile. It just is not feasible to ship really ripe berries or stone fruit long distances. Even at the local farmers markets you will see signs to handle the juicy and fragrant fruit with care or not at all. Some farmers are so protective that they insist on handling and bagging the fruit for you so it won’t bruise or burst before you buy it.

Heirloom tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes at the Farmers' Market.

When you eat local, you have the opportunity to eat new varieties of common foods as well as trying new foods.  This young gentleman is inspecting an assortment of heirloom tomatoes that you will not find at most of your large corporate grocery stores. Heirloom tomatoes were only one of the food discovered when this author challenged themselves to eat local and enrolled in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. CSA programs are a collaboration between farmers and near by communities to support families and farms to benefit both. It is a means of keeping local dollars in the local community.

People are passionate about food and where ever there is passion, there are politics. Food politics abounds on the web, in books and movies. Although we don’t necessarily see this network as a political platform, we are passionate about our food! Many of the reasons that locavores accept the challenge of eating local are political in nature.

But what about the drink? Did you know that wines are made in the Puget sound, with grapes grown here in Western Washington? I was greatly disappointed that the Puget Sound AVA was not represented at all at the recent North American Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla. We will be featuring some of the wines grown and crafted in the Puget Sound area during our 100 mile dinner. Pike Brewing is also dedicated to sustainable and local brewing when they can maintain their quality. They hope to have some local beer for our dinner. I am also in conversation with Sky River Meadery. You can stay up to date on the beverages that I am able to find and acquire on the beverage forum topic.

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