Living La Vida Local: A Cooking Challenge!

Summer is nearly here, if only in name as the Montana weather has been very chilly of late. One of my favorite summertime activities is to visit the weekly local farmer's market. Once a week, two food markets and one goods market spread across the downtown. People sell their home-grown produce, hand-created wares such as clothing, pottery, and photographs, and prepared foods like organic bratwurst.

When I attend the market, I mostly am drawn to the atmosphere. I get such enjoyment from wandering through the busy market, snapping photographs of the visitors, vendors, and what's for sale. Normally I don't buy much, but one of my favorite produce items that arrives at the market later in the season are freshly picked huckleberries. Now, I have never purchased any because I always felt unsure as to what I would do with them. This year, however, I have resolved to buy a little bag of the berries, if only to eat with my morning yogurt, banana, and cereal. Yum! Huckleberries are unique to the northwest, if not specifically to Montana. In fact, outside of Mark Twain's book, I had never heard of huckleberries until I moved here. I didn't realize that they are an actual fruit and not just a creative name.

And so I present Muffin Love's premiere event and food challenge: Living La Vida Local. This summer, why not try to cook locally? What I mean by that is to prepare a meal in which at least one major ingredient is locally produced. For example, in if you were to make a meatloaf dinner, perhaps the beef would come from a farm close to your home or you purchased the vegetables for the meal's side from a local market -- or both! If you don't have a farmer's market, check out smaller non-chain grocery stores or natural food stores. Both often have locally grown food.

But why use local foods in meals at all? you may be wondering. Locally produced food hasn't been transported across the country and so is the freshest food that you'll find without growing it yourself. Also, it tends to be altered or treated with fewer, if any, chemical and pesticides. Plus it supports your local businesses, and you can see directly where your money is going. It's so wonderful to give the small time farmers a boost in the world's cut-throat mass food production business.

If you would like to participate in this fun and eco-friendly event, simply email me the following information at escagnel04 (at) yahoo (dot) com (that 0 in "escagnel04" is a zero and not the letter "o," by the way):
  • Your name
  • The name of your dish/meal
  • A link to your blog post about the dish (or, if you don't have a blog, a short description of the dish), including a recipe
  • Your blog's name and URL
  • A link to an optional photo (it must be uploaded to an online storage/sharing service like Flickr) that measures no larger than 240 x 160
That's all! Post the Living La Vida Local icon in your blog post, and download various sizes here. Participation will be open for just over one month, meaning that I'll be closing entries on July 15, 2008.

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