Local Pantry

This is how I know it's spring - I cleaned out the pantry. Okay, the pantry is the closet under the stairs but it has shelves in addition to a rack to hang our coats.

Two years ago the shelves were cluttered with organic canned foods; stewed tomatoes, pinto beans, Amy's chile. And non-organic canned foods; olives, tuna, chicken stock and butternut squash soup in boxes. There was an inedible selection of Indian simmering sauces and chutneys. All of which, well, almost all of which, were rotated through meals with expiration dates too far in the future to consider.

And then I decided to eat local to reduce our carbon bite.

The canned and boxed foods sat. I read their labels. Spaghetti sauce from New York. Soy milk from the east coast. Nearly nothing was from nearby. It was well traveled industrial food and I eventually gave it up and away before it expired. Which was good but it was also the reserves in the event of a long term emergency. Now what?

Should something happen we would be eating last years sweet pickles from Canvas Ranch or rose petal sugar from Allstar Organics. We might last a day on apricot jam from Happy Girl Kitchen and if not we could drink their ketchup (it's that good). The flageolet or yellow indian woman beans from Rancho Gordo would be good but it's difficult to keep a meaningful supply on hand. There's almond butter from Full Belly Farm but rarely more than half a jar.

With the shelves cleaned up I see there's emergency stocking to be done. But in a new way with locally grown foods. Which gives me pause.

What foods do you keep on hand for an emergency?


Another Outspoken Female said...

My basics: Cans of organic beans, chopped tomatoes, red salmon, sardines, tuna, red curry paste, jams, chutneys, pasta (gluten-free), rice (brown, basmati), rolled oats, rice and corn cakes, mayonnaise, quinoa, millet, bottles of olive, sesame, macadamia and pumpkins seed oil, vinegars, raw nuts, seeds, dried fruit (its a small pantry but fits alot!). Does wine count as a basic, there is a fair amount of that too.

I feel ashamed to admit my pantry here in Australia features many overseas products, such as organic canned tomatoes and beans from Italy. Why? Because they taste better and cost less than the few local organic options. The tuna likewise comes from far away (it tastes good), the salmon, "Wild Alaskan" because it is wild and has a better nutritional profile than the local fresh salmon, all farm raised and with an odd fattyness and lack of flavour. The quinoa is from South America (not grown here) but at least it is fair trade.

I am slowly amending my sins. This summer, I converted the bumper crop of tomatoes to frozen tubs of roasted tomato, garlic and onion puree (out of this world!). Most of the jams and chutneys are made by friends or bought from local fairs or community shops.

Donna said...

This is a great question, and I was thinking about it too, recently. My husband narrowly survived a round of layoffs at work. Before he knew he'd keep his job, he was joking that if he got laid off, we'd have to live on beef (we've got 1/4 cow in the freezer). Seriously, most of the local food I have stashed is in the freezer, which is fine except if there's a long power outage. I have plenty of frozen meat and fruit. Besides that, I think I need a supply of baking goods like flour, salt and yeast (none are local), dried pasta & rice, and next summer I really should finally learn how to can!

audrey said...

Canned tomatoes, for sure, and we are running out!

kale for sale said...

AOF - Your tomato tubs are genius! I can taste it. Beautiful. Thank you. And I'm with you on jams and chutney from the community. They are treasures in a jar at our house. Thanks for all the good tips. So far I've got the rolled oats. Next stop is a bunch of honey because I don't touch oatmeal without a healthy dose of honey.

Donna - I was trying to think out of the freezer too. I pack it up in the summer but the pantry is a different animal. I hadn't even thought of salt. That's going on the top of the list (with the honey). I'm glad your cute guy is still working. So many of us seem to be holding our breaths.

audrey - Someone asked the question recently, if you could have only one food on an island, what would it be. Mine might just be tomatoes. I'm almost out of my frozen stash of them from last summer too but I think we'll make it until the start of the local season. I hope.

Chile said...

We have dried beans and wheat, both purchased from my CSA farmer. We also have some not-local rice. By buying an extra share or two for a couple of seasons, I was able to put up (can, dry, freeze) local vegetables and fruits. Also did some local harvesting when the opportunity was available and canned those items. Good luck with stocking up your new pantry!

kale for sale said...

Chile - Thanks for the encouragement. Rice is definitely on the list and it's local. This week I added a huge jar of orange blossom honey. The trick will be keeping it stored and not eating it however.

Chile said...

What do you mean "not eating it"? You have to rotate your stored food... ;-)