Beginning with a big breakfast in the morning, food and diet are an integral part of our day. Food can affect our physical and mental health – food can heal. A yummy bit of a favorite dish can brighten any mood. Food is the great equalizer and a wonderful connector! Our differences fade away when we crowd around a table and a bunch of delicious dishes.
The best part of life on the homestead and a lifestyle that values sustainable and ethical farming? You get to be in the driver’s seat, controlling what your family produces and consumes (and purchases), and if you’re involved with local farm markets and cooperatives, you get to contribute to your community through local farm-to-table initiatives.
You just can’t beat the taste of fresh food! The sense of security that comes with eating fresh – knowing what went into the production of that food and trust in your own efforts and that of local retailers and producers you’ve purchased from – is just the cherry on top.
The sky is the limit when you look at every meal your family is going to eat throughout the day and over the course of a week; let’s start with a nice big breakfast!
Meat – Sausage is an obvious choice for breakfast, but the choices are pretty limitless: bacon, pork chops and steak (can’t go wrong with steak and eggs!) or more niche choices like scrapple, a dish with Pennsylvania Dutch roots with a distinctive flavor. You could even put some local smoked fish on a bagel.
The option is there to produce a finished cow or hog and slaughter/process the meat yourself. Not interested in the mess? You can work through a butcher/custom meat processor. Our friends at Empire Custom Processing offer great custom beef processing services.
If you’re interested in raising a finished animal for meat processing but still want to have your own locally sourced meat, many buy from other producers, often going in with friends and neighbors to defer costs. This article from the University of Missouri Cooperative Extension runs through some basics to keep in mind when purchasing an animal for meat.
Eggs – Eggs are obviously a breakfast staple. Many families raise chickens – and the number is climbing. A 2019 article from CBS News references some data from the American Pet Producers Association: “Roughly 10 million, or 8%, of U.S. households had chickens in 2018.”
If you’re raising your own chickens, gathering eggs for breakfast is as simple as a walk across the barnyard. If you aren’t raising your own but still want to purchase locally and avoid the high prices at the grocery store, there are some options. You can visit local farm markets or farm stores to pick up your eggs. Localharvest.org is a great resource when looking for farms and producers near you that might offer fresh eggs.
Oatmeal – This is another breakfast staple. While you can visit your nearest grocery store for oats and various fixins that go into a delicious bowl of oatmeal, sometimes shopping with a local co-op is a better choice! Near our offices at Country Culture, we have the Plain Foods Co-op in Fort Plain, NY. Shopping there is a great opportunity to shop both locally and organically.
Baked Goods – Much like your oatmeal, you can pick up all of the basics for your favorite carbs (flour, sugar, etc.) at a co-op or organic grocer (if you have such things available to you). A slice of homemade bread or a flaky biscuit is the perfect addition to a sit-down breakfast.
You can sometimes procure dough starter from a friend or neighbor, or you can find a great sourdough starter recipe here, courtesy of King Arthur Baking Co.
Going the biscuit route? Though some recipes do utilize starter, I prefer to go with a good old fashioned rolled biscuit recipe. Here’s a great recipe courtesy of Taste of Home.
Butter & Jellies – You have to complement your bread or biscuits with homemade butter and jelly.
It’s actually very easy to make butter at home and your efforts will get even better with practice, as we noted in this Country Culture post.
Though many choose to traditionally can their own jellies and jams, a simple freezer jam is the perfect edition to your down-home breakfast. Check out this recipe, also from Allrecipes.com.
Fruit – Wanting some fruit to complement your tasty breakfast? You are able to can fruit to last you throughout the year (check out this article from Farmer’s Almanac).
You can also flash freeze fruit and store it in your freezer (check out “Freezing Fruit” from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension). I prefer the fresh stuff (as do most of us), but fresh fruit is largely going to depend on what’s seasonally accessible in your region.
That’s a wrap on a delicious home-cooked breakfast – and a stellar start to your day.
A home-crafted, organic menu is well within reach. Do the research, make the connections and rely on your community and invest in your local farm-to-table initiatives.
by Andrew Haman