Yes. We Can Grow, Process and Cook Wonderful Kentucky Food
I take inventory most meals: What is "ours?" What came from the garden outside our back door or from one of the wonderful farms near us, or at least from Kentucky? Eating homegrown or local foods is not my religion - but it is a habit I am forming. Today's lunch:
> Brown beans (these weren't Kentuckians, sadly), cooked in chicken stock from an Elmwood Stock Farm hen, flavored with an Elmwood onion and two slices of Stone Cross Farm smoked bacon, topped with a little sauerkraut I made using cabbages from a Lexington Farmers Market farmer I didn't know, and some jalapeño jelly from Three Toads Farm. (I was in an experimental mood, thinking about "Brown Beans Three Ways" as a local alternative to Gold Star Chili. This crispy corn bread - tangy kraut - sweet/spicy jelly combo works.)
> Corn muffins made from Weisenberger Mill's fantastic unbolted white corn meal, Elmwood eggs, Brook-Lin Jersey buttermilk, olive oil from thousands of miles away, salt from France, leavening from unknown sources
> Apple cider from Reed Valley Orchard mixed with sparkling water from way too far away
I have a mental wish list of foods and drinks I wish Kentuckians would produce. Nut oils, for example. Could black walnuts and hickory nuts produce edible oils to add to the animal-based fats we can produce here? Even sparkling water - how about a local seltzer company, as some cities have? At least the processing could provide some local jobs, and the food miles would evaporate.
Interesting related events today: My excellent source in Chicago (tall, smart, beautiful, kind) sent a link to Jill Santopietro's New York Times story, "When Chocolate is a Way of Life." Santopietro tells the unlikely tale of the Quichua people in Amazonian Ecuador learning to ferment and process cacao instead of selling the raw product at bargain basement prices to intermediaries. Yes, they did, and so can we.
We Kentuckians can learn to add value to many more of the great foods that grow here. Locally pickled veggies, for example. Locally canned tomato juice. Local hard cider. More local dairy products: butter, creme fraiche, cheese curds, hard and soft cheeses, buttermilk, cream, yogurt.
Another interesting event happened today: a conversation with a successful small-scale dairy farmer who wants to grow more products for Kentuckians. He says a lot of young farmers near him want to know what all of us eaters want to buy. We need a way to hook up demand and supply. Something for some enterprising, tech-savvy Kentuckians to invent. Yes we can. (Or at least YOU can!)