Friday, July 20, 2007

Where to begin?

This summer I read a book. A stupendous achievement, I know. But seriously, I read an excellent book. A book that inspires one to really look at the food we eat. A book that inspired me to think consiciously about the food choices I make not in terms of vegetarian versus non-vegetarian, but in terms of locality. Where is the food coming from? Is it really fresh and local? Or is it fresh and local from Wisconsin or California, having travelled many miles creating exhaust to come to New York City?

The book I'm referring to is titled Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I highly recommend it to anyone even vaguely interested in any of the above topics I mentioned. But be warned, reading it will cause you to re-evaluate even the quickest of trips to the grocery store. You'll find yourself visiting farmer's markets several times a week (if available). You'll find yourself lugging heavy bags of produce with you as you go about your day, despite the inconvenience and weight. But, you'll feel better for it.

These items were the result of a Saturday at the Farmers Market in Union Square. It's still my favorite market, not only for the number of farmers and sellers who attend but for the fact it is there 4 days a week. 4 days! I cannot pass through it without stopping to browse, and buy. Especially at this time of the year when the stalls are bursting with beautiful produce, fresh fruits and veggies abound along with eggs, meats and cheeses made from the vendors who sell them. It truly is a food lover's paradise.

Still, reading Kingsolver's book not only inspired us to shop from farmers but to become better farmers ourselves. Our garden is booming - look at a few of the wonderful vegetables we've harvested, or will be harvesting soon!

Green peppers, still on the vine.

Butternut squash, growing happily.


A shy, little eggplant.

Mr. Stripey, an heirloom variety green tomato.

M. and I are certainly not going to live off our tiny garden patch for a year, as Barbara Kingsolver and her family do in her book, but we have made a conscious shift towards more localized and healthy foods obtained at farmers markets not at grocery stores of late. It is an imperfect process, and I do obtain items that I need which cannot be found locally as they are required. And I will continue to do so, but for every imported package of pine nuts I purchase, I feel better about the local purchases that support not only local farmers but taste better as well.

Now, if I could only remember to take more pictures of the dishes I make with these foods, life would simply be perfect. :)


kickpleat said...

i want to read that book too! and your garden is coming along so nicely!

Kristen said...

I'm so jealous of your garden! Looks wonderful! Let's figure out a weekend we can come visit so you can cook for me and S. :)

Helios said...

Thanks for the garden comments...

It's looking quite jungle like these days but still producing lovely vegetables. So what if I have to wade through plants to go on a tomato hunt? :)

kristen - you're invited any time! :)

Bryn on the big island said...

I just read that book too, and loved it! (I've always been a Kingsolver fan) My life was changed by it as well. I keep a vegetable garden, and living in Hawaii I don't have to give up bananas since they grow in my yard, and now I'm seriously considering making my own cheese!