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2015 – Happy New Year!

This post was originally posted on John's previous blog site on on January 12th, 2015.

It’s that time of year again. Yep, you know, the New Year’s resolutions. I’m going to the gym everyday, I’ll swim, jog, bike -and possibly meditate, regularly. I am going to totally reorganize my life and in my spare time learn how to speak three foreign languages fluently -and take that wood working class which should help me in my several planned volunteer efforts. Did I mention a knitting class?

If any of this sounds familiar -or if you’ve found medication to control this kind of obsession, you may realize that these frenetic, multi-faceted types of resolutions generally go down in flames, or just get slowly washed away in the tides of a busy year. After quite a number of decades with broken resolutions under my belt I came to the awareness that I need to focus on one thing (or one resolution) at a time.

For me 2015 is going to be the year of the Baltimore/Chesapeake Locavore. Being a chef and a restaurant owner, I think a lot about food: what we eat, how we eat, where we eat and where the food we eat comes from. The more I read and hear about all sorts of food-borne illnesses, the poor quality of much of the food produced by our centralized-industrial food system, and diseases resulting from an “affluenza diet”, the more firmly I believe the only answer lies in rebuilding our own local food supply and local food economy.

So my resolution involves setting myself up to live and eat in a more local manner. I’m trying to keep it simple – and it’s just a small start – but I came up with three steps for myself.

1 – Shop regularly at my farmers’ market or local independent grocer. This helps keep farmers in business and precious land out of development. Recent studies have found that locally grown food, eaten in season, is better for our health – and the health of our community. The money stays local and like Dolly Levi said in the play Hello Dolly, “Money is like manure… it does no good unless you spread it around and encourage things [like small farmers] to grow.” It helps to put together a flexible menu plan and a flexible shopping list before I head off to the market. I can make changes along the way depending on availability, but I do not get overwhelmed at the market with the many choices I encounter.

2 – Have a regular shared common table meal. I’ve been thinking about my mom and grandmother Gertie, and how there was always a hot meal on the table where family, extended family and friends would meet for good local food and good company. Lately I find myself with too little time spent around a common table with friends and conviviality. It only makes sense that if I am going to go to the farmer’s market to gather local food to cook a meal, it should be for a meal shared with others. I’ll start off with once a week and see where I go from there. 3 – Plan to grow at least three edible items this coming growing season. If I’m going to dive into this locavore lifestyle I believe it is important to grow some of my own. And I don’t need a lot of land. It could be a window box, a five-gallon bucket, or a small backyard plot. You can grow just about anywhere. All you really need is a little sunlight, some dirt and some water! Just some herbs, cherry tomatoes, and pole beans grown on the balcony is a fine start. For me, watching plants grow is witnessing the awesome miracle of nature up close. It slows me down a bit and reminds me where, and who, I am in the big scheme of things.

So nothing earth shattering this year… Just a little resolution to depend on my local farmers for substance, and to spend my time sharing locavore delicacies with others. Wish me luck!

And a Happy Locavore New Year to you all!

- John

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