Wednesday, September 15, 2010


After picking up a zucchini the size of a whiffle ball bat from my mom's garden, I thought it would be great to trial run zucchini bread. I created it using all local ingredients, save the cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt (none of which I've been able to find locally). In lieu of sugar, I used local honey, which is available locally.

It takes roughly 2 1/3 cups of honey to equal that of 3 1/2 cups of sugar. Or so google told me. I obediently poured out two containers of honey to equal 2 1/3 cup, and it was like watching our money drip away slowly. Local honey is EXPENSIVE. We did some math, and realized that for each batch of zucchini bread, our cost in honey alone is around $8, not to mention the gorgeous flour we bought from Nash's, and of course farmer's market eggs. But is the cost worth it?

Before, I would take it for granted, maybe even throw parts of it away after letting it sit on the counter for a week. Now, I'll freeze one loaf for later, and let me tell you, the taste is so much sweeter.

Our commitment to this experiment remains. We officially begin next week, on the 22nd with the Fall Equinox. It seemed natural to transition with the season and frankly, more challenging to begin in fall when things are less available. It's been fascinating throughout our "prep" period, but the reality of what lies ahead is unnerving.

We are trying to keep true to eating as closely to 100% local as possible, but find that our list of "exceptions" is growing out of necessity. Essentially, anything that *can* be purchased/grown locally will be, but a life without cumin or turmeric is not the life for me.

And so our exception list goes:

* Salt
* Spices (this is new)
* Oils
* Balsamic Vinegar
* Lemons

Which means we buy locally:

* Produce
* Flour
* Grains
* Eggs
* Milk
* Yogurt
* Meats
* Butter
* Wine
* Cheese
* Snacks
* Ice cream
* Honey

Now, our whole purpose has been to determine if it's less expensive or more expensive to eat 100% locally. Throughout the summer of our preparation and planning, it has seemed that it would be cheaper. While writing our grocery list for next week, I started to doubt that. Honey. Flour. War stock of veggies. War stock of fruits. 2 Dozen eggs (at $5 a dozen). It started getting very real, very quickly how expensive our little experiment might actually become.

We will keep track of our weekly grocery expenses, to allow 100% visibility into our little economic foodie adventure. We've already listed many of the things we've bought in preparation.

And at the end of the year we will all know, is it cheaper to live locally than buying at big box grocers?


  1. Even if it is more expensive in the winter months, it may average out over a whole year when local produce becomes more available. Check out the Silver Bow honey company in Snohomish. You may be able to buy honey in bulk cheaper.

  2. I am guessing as this progresses, you will find great local deals - maybe just on the outskirts of Seattle, but within your 200 mile limit. Like $5 per dozen seems REALLY high to me for eggs... Keep up the good work though!:) I KNOW there have to be deals out there... Have you checked Craigslist??

  3. I found you through your mother, and was curious to see what and how you are doing with your local eating.
    I grew up eating locally, on a small farm in Oregon's Willamette Valley. For me I have to say been there, done that. I was cheaper then because we raised it our selves or got it free or cheap, supplimented with grocery store food. It was hard work, but we were poor and didn't have much choice. We do have a garden here in SeaTac to suppliment our eating, just because we can't not have dirt on our hands. But it's still work. and now I have a choice.
    I wish you luck. It will be an interesting experiment.

  4. yum! that bread looked (and tasted!) SO good! Thank you for sharing the precious commodity :)

  5. Thanks for the great comments! Linda, nice to (e)meet you! I'm very excited to see if eating 100% locally on a budget within city limits can be achieved... stay tuned! :) Jo, my pleasure to share the deliciousness! You and soon to be Baby Eben deserve it! :)

  6. When I was a kid, we would always come back from summer vacation and stop in Eastern WA for the produce. We came back we a bunch, but one thing I remember is the 5 gallon bucket of honey we brought back every year. Have you looked into that? Also, I read an article that talked about harvesting wheat. My mom used to make her own flour although we purchased the wheat pre-ground from someone else. Wouldn't that be fun to learn??? How much space do you have at your new casa?

  7. Sara! My mom was telling me about a honey farm in Snohomish where they used to get their bee supplies, and now they sell their honey at Costco! That's inspiring, but I would much rather get it direct. We found a GREAT flour source, from a farm in Sequim, and it makes the best pasta EVER. I would love to learn how to grind my own, though...there is also a Big Leaf Maple tree-tapping class I've heard about--how to make your own maple syrup! Fun! Oh, and I'm taking a class in October on how to raise chickens in-city, so stay tuned... :)