I was just reading an interesting blog called The One Block Diet. Sunset Magazine has embraced the local food movement with an experiment to grow and raise everything they need for a big feast. They have teams of people in five areas: beer, chicken, garden, olive and wine and the blog tracks their progress and their learning curve.
It does remind me that every year about this time I start looking at the olive trees growing at the end of the driveway and I think about picking and curing olives. I have tried before, but I have not had much success. Some years there aren't many olives. One year when there was a big crop, I put them in a brine solution. Unfortunately they didn't stay submerged, and I ended up with a moldy mess. But maybe this year will be different. I will keep an eye on the olives. I seem to remember that they are ripe in late October, early November so I have plenty of time to research curing methods.
I became really interested in eating more of my food from local sources after reading Michael Pollan's The Ominovore's Dilemma and Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. For years I've loved going to our Farmer's Markets, but I found that it was sometimes too easy to skip going. I realized that my diet relied far too much on grocery store produce and unseasonal foods. So this year I joined a CSA, and I haven't looked back. I still enjoy going to the Farmer's Market, but now I have a guarenteed batch of local, seasonal produce every Thursday afternoon. The variety and quality have been good, and I enjoy the fact that I don't really know what I'm going to get that week until I pick it up. The element of surprise is a nice thing.
As for really eating locally and growing my own food, I'm not really set up to do it at this point. I do have a small number of edibles in my garden: grapes, a plum tree, 2 orange trees, 1 dwarf blood orange tree, a tangerine tree, a lemon tree and some peppers. But none of these produce a large crop. I just enjoy even the small amount they are willing to give me. The trees would probably benefit from more water and fertizer than I currently give them. So someday when I have more time for the garden, I would like to have a lime tree and perhaps an avocado tree and a small plot of seasonal vegetables. Of course I would also have to find room for them.
In the meantime I have a number of perennial herbs: sage, rosemary, thyme, lemon verbena, lemon thyme, lemon balm, oregano, chives, winter savory, curry plant, lavendar, and bay. They all are relatively care free. I usually plant at least parsley and basil each season. And so, for now I am happy with my small amount of local produce.
A shot of the curry plant with citrus in the background.