Saturday, April 11, 2009

Eggs for breakfast

Yesterday I mentioned Cream of the West, a hot cereal that I often enjoy for breakfast. But occasionally I indulge in my favorite breakfast, fried potatoes and eggs.

The eggs in the photo -- looking pretty enough for Easter -- were winners at last summer's Park County Fair.

In 2008, Montana produced about 115 million eggs. There are plenty of homegrown eggs in most communities, and frequently they are available at farmers markets, so there is no reason not to eat local eggs.

Since there are so many to choose from, I hope to avoid eggs that come from hens who don't live carefree lives wandering around outside and scratching for a living. Everybody I personally know raises them this way, so we'll all be happy.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lots of Montana food

Finding food to eat that is produced in Montana really isn't difficult.

For breakfast I can eat Cream of the West hot cereal, sweeten it with honey gathered from hives placed on ranches, which I can buy for about $3 for 8 ounces, and drink either milk from Lifeline Farm in Victor or coffee roasted in a variety of places. My favorite coffee comes from City Brew in Billings. No, the coffee is not grown in Montana, but after all, right now I'm only eating 50 percent locally grown food!

For lunch and dinner, there's locally raised, grass-fed, hormone-free beef, lamb, or pork that comes right off the ranch without going to feedlots to be fattened. And it's really tasty! Indreland Ranch is in Sweet Grass County, along with numerous smaller ranchers -- several run by women.

If I want a sandwich, Wheat Montana supplies bread -- and flour when I want to make my own bread.

Getting fresh locally grown vegetables is easy during the summer, but the growing season is short: in the eastern part of the state it more or less runs from last frost at the end of May to first frost in early September. People who are taking the 50-percent challenge this year are planning to store plenty of root vegetables like potatoes and squash. Those of us who know how to can will be busy in September!

Many people have fruit trees and berry bushes, but these are not generally grown commercially. Cherries are the only fruit that I know about that Montana grows enough of to feed the entire state. The Flathead Lake area in Northwestern Montana is where you'll find these delectable delights. During winter, I'll probably be eating lots of dried cherries from The Orchard at Flathead Lake -- their cherry jam is pretty tasty, too!

For dessert there might be goodies from Martinson's Ranch Chocolates or King's Cupboard.

So potentially there's lots to eat. But will I be tempted to take the easy way out and just buy what's on sale at the local IGA?

Stay tuned . . .

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The 50-percent challenge

I moved to Montana over a year ago and have been exploring it with delight.

There's a lot to see here in the fourth largest state (after Alaska, Texas, and California). The big blue sky is no myth, the land is vast, and the people are interesting.

The food here is good, too. It's not all cattle and sheep, as cowboy movies might lead you to believe. (Though in small ranching communities like mine, people do tend to eat a lot of beef.) Montana produces lots of wheat, barley, lentils, cherries, and honey, to name a few of the top crops.

There's a worldwide movement slowly taking shape that aims to eat locally produced food in any given area. Here in Montana, the immediate goal is to get people to eat 50 percent of their food made right here in the state. Today Montanans spend about $3 billion on food each year, but less than 9 percent of that is spent on food produced in Montana. So you can see that eating locally produced food would help the economy tremendously.

This blog will document my own efforts to eat at least 50 percent of my food from local sources.

I'll also be visiting farmers markets to see what communities around the state are eating. I really enjoy meeting the people who grow and produce our food. They seem to have a real enjoyment in their work, coming out of, I suppose, a realization that what they do is vital.

Here's to safe travels and a hearty and healthy appetite!