Foraging in Maryland: Two Families Eat Local

A rudimentary distribution system made foraging in Maryland a challenge, but the authors and their families were determined to only eat local food. And for the most part succeeded.

| August/September 2006

  • foraging in Maryland, eat local - peanut butter cookies
    Catie and Louis Catacalos enjoy peanut butter cookies made from scratch with local ingredients.
    Renee Catacalos
  • foraging in Maryland, eat local - Catie Catacalos at farmers market
    Before she and her family could eat local food, Catie Catacalos had to learn how to find it. Her sojourns foraging in Maryland took her to the Riverdale Farmers Market(pictured here with Peggy Harris of Harris Orchard).
    Photo by Renee Catacalos
  • foraging in Maryland, eat local - ragout polenta
    A fresh meal made from all local ingredients: Renee’s sausage ragout and polenta and Kristi’s homegrown edamame.
    Renee Catacalos
  • foraging in Maryland, eat local - dinner
    The end-of-experiment feast. From left to right: Renee Brooks Catacalos, Bernd Janzen, David Navari, Alex Navari, Kim Schmidt, Damon Catacalos and Catie Catacalos.
    Kristi Bahrenburg Janzen
  • foraging in Maryland, eat local - rye bread
    Kristi’s home-baked, 100% whole rye bread, made with sourdough rye starter.
    Kristi Bahrenburg Janzen
  • GreenUprising
    Michael and Allegra Foley of Green Uprising Farm at the Riverdale Farmers Market in Maryland.
    Kristi Bahrenburg Janzen
  • foraging in Maryland, eat local - feast
    Kristi and Renee’s end-of-experiment local food feast included fresh crudite; stew of pastured chicken; dragon tongue beans; shitake mushrooms and red peppers; and roasted blue potatoes and courge longue de Nice squash. Even the wine and flowers were from Maryland!
    Kristi Bahrenburg Janzen
  • foraging in Maryland, eat local - local produce
    One week’s share of produce and eggs from Even’ Star Farm in Lexington Park, MD.
    Kristi Bahrenburg Janzen
  • foraging in Maryland, eat local - pancake breakfast
    Local breakfast: spelt pancakes, fresh melons and bacon from Cibola Farms.
    Kristi Bahrenburg Janzen
  • foraging in Maryland, eat local - Clara Janzen
    Clara Janzen uses local farm-fresh ingredients for a breakfast of "Eggs in Tomatoes."
    Kristi Bahrenburg Janzen

  • foraging in Maryland, eat local - peanut butter cookies
  • foraging in Maryland, eat local - Catie Catacalos at farmers market
  • foraging in Maryland, eat local - ragout polenta
  • foraging in Maryland, eat local - dinner
  • foraging in Maryland, eat local - rye bread
  • GreenUprising
  • foraging in Maryland, eat local - feast
  • foraging in Maryland, eat local - local produce
  • foraging in Maryland, eat local - pancake breakfast
  • foraging in Maryland, eat local - Clara Janzen

Amid increasing media buzz about the virtues of local food, we set out to discover how feasible it is to eat only local food all the time. As two suburban moms, we wanted to know if “eat local” was just a hollow marketing slogan or a real alternative for families who hope to enjoy the best seasonal foods, invest in the local economy and help the environment. How much would it cost? Would the kids go for it? Would our guests appreciate it?

Pledging to search locally for a month, we defined “local” as grown and produced within a 150-mile radius of our suburban Maryland homes near Washington, DC. We knew there were agricultural riches in our region. Yet much of what we discovered — or failed to discover — foraging in Maryland and the surrounding environs surprised us.

Enjoying Local Produce

Our own small gardens, and those of friends and family, were our start. They yielded zesty nasturtium blossoms for salads, hot chile peppers, edamame, sweet cucumbers, herbs and other special produce. Renee’s father had enough collards in his backyard to supply her all year. But, to feed our families of four, we needed a lot more.

We quickly became regulars at four producer-only farmers markets near our homes, where we picked up traditional favorites like corn on the cob, carrots bursting with flavor, mesclun greens, and various melons and berries. Kristi, eight months pregnant with her third child at the time, enjoyed the added convenience of weekly home delivery from two community supported agriculture farms (CSAs).



By shopping at the farmers markets, we began to make new observations about our food.  The taste of local tree fruits was particularly striking. While they are typically grown using some pesticides due to the humid mid-Atlantic climate, the flavor was far superior to any shipped from across the country, organic or not. Kristi couldn’t stop craving local award-winning peaches and cream. The kids reveled in the fruit too, tasting new varieties like metheny and cardinal plums. Renee’s husband, Damon, especially enjoyed the long run of fresh apricots.

Rounding Up Meat, Fish and Dairy

We also tapped directly into the farming community. Kristi ordered Amish organic meat, dairy, produce and other items like maple syrup through a buying club with a biweekly delivery 30 minutes from home. Renee was in the habit of taking her family on bimonthly field trips to Springfield Farm in Sparks, Maryland, a one-stop shop of sorts, selling grass-fed beef and lamb, pastured pork, chicken, and rabbits, and fresh free-range eggs.






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