Savoring the Seasons: On the road to good food, full bellies

For The Recorder
Published: 8/1/2017 1:53:02 PM

When you read this, I’ll be camping amid the oaks and ferns of western Michigan, in the place I’ve spent time in early August almost every year since 2005. Last year, I was in Massachusetts in early August, so for the first time I got to help out in person at the Fill the Belly Bus Community Food Drive on the Greenfield Town Common. Each year before that, as well as this year, I’d donated food or money to the cause before I left for Michigan.

Last year, I was one of a big group of volunteers unloading 4,553 pounds of food from the buses, cars, and vans that drove up to the Common. We sorted the food into categories and separated it into piles to go to the different food pantries. Having worked and volunteered for the Franklin County Community Meals Program and knowing how much food FCCMP and other local food pantries distribute, I know those pounds of food and the more than $2,800 raised in cash donations last year were a big help in making sure our neighbors have full bellies. I hope this year’s Belly Bus gathers even more donations.

There’s a reason the Franklin County Hunger Task Force schedules the Belly Bus Food Drive in early August. They know our neighbors need even more help from food pantries during the two-week gap between summer meal programs for low-income children and the start of school meal programs in the fall.

Where will you be on Friday? I hope you’ll join me in helping our hungry neighbors have enough to eat.

Along with camping gear, I also have a lot of locally grown food on my packing list. I eat locally grown food wherever I go, first enjoying food I bring along from western Massachusetts, and then locally grown food I find along the way. My friends and I avoid fast food places and find local parks to enjoy our picnics. Hard-boiled eggs, marinated green bean salad, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, cheese, and bread travel well in the cooler. Looking back at my food columns from 10 years ago, I saw this simply delightful blueberry soup recipe. I’m going to make some before I leave and enjoy it as a special picnic treat.

Before we get to where we’re camping in Michigan, we’ll stop at a farmstand to get fresh corn, eggs, and vegetables. For breakfast, we’ll make scromlets on the campstove — scrambled eggs with chopped onions, summer squash, tomatoes, and herbs. For supper, we’ll stir-fry chicken (packed frozen in the cooler when we left home) and vegetables, and cook the corn on the grill over the campfire.

Camping food isn’t always this lush, but it can still be largely local. For trips without coolers, many local vegetables and fruit can go along in a dehydrated form. I have friends who dry most of their own food for long backpacking trips and a kayaking buddy of mine makes fabulous beef jerky in her dehydrator. For food drying cookbooks, check the catalog for “food drying” at the Greenfield Library and other local libraries.

Whether your travels take you to a local park for a picnic or across the country camping, savor local foods on your trip.

This Week We’re Eating ...

Wild Blueberry Soup: by George Esworthy, Shelburne Falls

Ingredients:

3 pints wild blueberries

½ lemon sliced thin

¼ C. honey

¼ C. maple syrup

½ C. cinnamon

2 C. water

Instructions:

Simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove lemon, puree, and chill. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and a few whole blueberries.

Local food advocate and community organizer Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer, editor, and book indexer. Send column suggestions and recipes to: mmcclinto@yahoo.com.


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