So like many people this month, I have resolved to improve my eating and exercising habits. I have already been on a long food journey for the past four years which I will explain later… but for this new year, I have been trying a different “diet” approach which includes mindful eating at two to three hour intervals. Of course, what I eat and how much is also important, so I am choosing foods that are healthy, low calorie, and delicious. One thing that I love to snack on during one or two of those “eating intervals” is cheese – I know, not very low calorie unless you portion correctly! It really doesn’t matter what kind, just as long as it is creamy, and smokey, and balanced with a slice of pear or apple with it. And finding a low fat or fresh made cheese is important, too, because not all cheeses are made with healthy ingredients. So making your own is a great way to ensure the right ingredients! Which brings me to another point about mindful eating…food should be something we enjoy – and what better way to enjoy food than by making it ourselves and eating it with others! A month or so ago, two friends and I got together and tested our skills at making fresh mozzarella cheese from raw, local milk. The cheese and company were wonderful and I plan on making fresh mozzarella cheese more often from scratch, especially when summer tomatoes start arriving!
I was able to purchase the local, raw milk from one of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms I belong to, Field to Fork Farm in Chester. You see, part of my food journey is to eat more locally made or grown food. That includes the chicken, pork, and beef as well as the vegetables either from my CSA, the farmer’s market, or grown myself. But finding local raw milk wasn’t quite as easy. Local milk (from local cows) is accessible – I’ve seen and bought it at J and F Farms in Derry, but they are not able to carry raw milk as of yet. Recently, Shellie’s Neigborhood Butcher Shop in Derry has been able to carry both local and raw milk. All that is needed (aside from the raw milk) to make the fresh mozzarrella (or even ricotta cheese) is citric acid and liquid rennet. These can be purchased from various places, including the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, but other recipes suggest white vinegar as the source of acid. So no matter what type of food you want to make or how you make it, there are many local places we can patronize for raw materials or the finished product. Local foods are more nutritious (because they travel less between harvest and consumption) and feed the local economy. Local foods also build our community and lower our carbon footprint. One website that is easy to use to find anything local is www.localharvest.org which uses your zipcode to create a list of farmer’s markets, coops, or CSAs in your area. It’s the one I used to find my organic vegetable CSA, Middle Branch Farm, which has a drop-off site in Derry. So join me this year and either start a new food journey or add to your existing one! I welcome your comments and ideas on fresh, local foods that help us celebrate our health, friendships, and community.