Despite the fact that I didn’t finish last year, I signed up to do the Dark Days Challenge again this year. The goal of the challenge is to make and post one meal a week that is as Sustainable, Organic, Local, and Ethical (SOLE) as possible. Since this is something we do pretty naturally at this point, my personal sub-goal is to get back in the habit of posting regularly, too.
As last year, I rearrange the criteria a bit, though. Though it’s not as pretty an acronym as SOLE, we aim for:
- Grown by people we know (this is amorphous and more or less has the same borders as “grown on Bainbridge Island”)
- Grown in Washington OR grown in Cascadia
- A specialty of another region — like Parmigiano cheese, or true balsamic vinegar, or small-batch maple syrup from Vermont, or Beaujolais Nouveau wine. This is to do with the idea of terroir, and though it’s clear it violates some of the goals of local eating, such as the desire to eliminate resources used in shipping, it is also very delicious, and I am unashamed.
In all categories, we prefer organic or organic-ish. Certification is not important; intent is. I also have a fondness for heirloom/heritage varieties or breeds, and definitely a strong opposition to GMOs. Fair-trade and other human-, animal- and environmentally-considerate methods (the “ethical” of SOLE) are also strongly preferred.
Most people take some exemptions for things like oils and spices. Ours are pretty standard:
- Olive oil — though I try to use alternative fats, like lard, duck fat, or homemade butter
- Vinegars — I made some apple cider vinegar this summer, but it’s pretty sweet and not suitable everywhere, though it is great salad dressing
- COFFEE and TEA! I am going to try to make my own coffee at work instead of going out, but I’ll also pressure my normal coffee shop to carry organic/fair trade beans.
- Flour — our flour is organic, but comes from Utah. Sometimes we can get a few pounds of wheat berries from a more local source; I may experiment with grinding grains.
- Sugar — bulk organic from Hawaii
- Spices: salt, pepper, etc. I have grown some fennel this year, and lots of hot peppers, and we have some coriander a friend grew, but beyond that it is all from the organic bulk bin at the grocery store.
So that’s the beginning. Soon I’ll have a pictureless, delicious chicken noodle soup to post.