catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 10, Num 16 :: 2011.09.16 — 2011.09.29


For life

The move to eating local food started way back in childhood, when my mother took me for the first time to a local farmers’ market one Sunday. I was intrigued by piles and rows of colorful produce. Dark green leaves of curly kale stood out against the stark white tablecloth they rested on. I stroked the rosy blush covering a sunny yellow peach at another’s stall. I eagerly reached for a juicy chunk of tomato a woman handed me. Its juice running down my fingers, I savored its sweetness. Since we couldn’t get to the market as often as we wanted to, I tolerated the supermarket stuff.

Then I decided to try my hand at growing my own vegetables. The only problem was that we lived in a city apartment with a concrete yard — rather lousy conditions for a garden. Refusing to allow cement to hold up my plans, I somehow managed to convince Mom to let me to have a couple of container gardens on the fire escape outside my grandmother’s apartment. As long as I stayed off the escape ladder (like I’d risk death at my mother’s hands), things were good. And I reluctantly gave up trying to grow corn. You can’t have everything.

I grew most of the makings for our salads: lettuce, carrots, spring onions, bell peppers and radishes. I tried my hand at tomatoes, but the worms got to them. Mom suggested trying cherry tomatoes, which the worms left alone, fortunately for them. After a couple of years, I gave up the garden and moved on.

As an adult, I made the decision to become a partial vegetarian. Although I ate poultry and seafood, most meals were vegetarian, increasing my interest in locally-grown food. I made occasional trips to a pick-your-own farm, marveling over gorgeously fresh green broccoli and purple beets ready for roasting. I appreciated knowing where my food originated and being able to discuss that with the growers. Additionally, trips to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and a couple of local markets were added as I incorporated organic foods into my diet.

Then a couple of years ago, the city-run farmers’ markets expanded and a new one set up shop across the street from where I worked. I’ve befriended a few of the local organic vendors. We’ve exchanged recipes, discussed the growing and harvesting seasons, and plans for new products. They in turn have saved their best for me, such as freshly-laid eggs and raw milk cheese. It’s sometimes hard to get all my food seasonally, but I do try to buy enough to freeze for later use. The flavor simply can’t be beat.

Thanks to one vendor, I’ve come to love Tuscan kale, an attractive relative to the curly kale I mentioned earlier. My favorite way to serve it is to take a couple pounds of it, roughly chop it, then sauté it with onion, garlic, sea salt and pepper until the greens are tender. I serve it over a chunky pasta like penne with grated cheese. Any other green can be substituted for the kale, such as Swiss chard — the rainbow variety is quite colorful — or even beet greens.

I now try to live a lifestyle of seeking out locally-grown foods, including patronizing restaurants that do the same. Granted it takes some effort, but it’s one movement I’m proud to be a part of. For life.

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