Friday, July 18, 2008

Eating local and all that good stuff ...

Local ... sustainable ... organic ... earth-friendly ... call-it-what-you-want ... All the buzzwords making the rounds in the food world recently.

A handful of years ago, the air started teeming with the concept of organic foods. Horrendously expensive, but Oh! so right and healthier and tastier ... I can honestly say that with some fruits and vegetables, we could taste the difference - like tomatoes and peppers and most greens. And cherries for sure! But with others ... nah! Couldn't quite savour the difference. But we loved the idea of hitting the local farmers' markets and buying our produce and starters there. Especially after growing up in India where there are vendors trolling the streets selling their produce and it is so very common to walk to the little store at the end of the street to buy veggies for the evening's dinner, it felt so right to shop local, pick and feel the veggies before dropping them into our baskets. I still remember the first time I bought green beans at a local market -

K strides up confidently to this vendor at the Redmond farmers' market, picks up a green bean or 3 and snaps them between her fingers!
Vendor's jaw drops!
K looks up at him, wondering if he's having a seizure! Isn't that how folks check for good beans? That's how the mum did it, right?
Vendor recovers and starts laughing! And slowly asks with a smile "Do you HAVE to snap the beans before you buy them?"
K turns beet red, realizing her cool "snap-the-bean" tactic is not so cool here! And finally learns to just buy the damn green beans without obsessing about snapping them.

Ok, so what does this incident have to do with all that local, organic goodness? Umm ... nothing. I just felt like telling a story, that's all! :)

Today, it seems like we're way past organic, which I personally believe is a great thing. We're not just trying to live by some ostensibly vaguely defined standard of agriculture, but we're going several steps beyond. We're seeking out local foods, sustainable foods that are developed without monocyclic farming methods. We're looking to form bonds with the local farmers that bring those delicious beets and greens and turnips and garlic snapes to our plates.

Yes, I very much like to have a personal stake in what I'm writing about.
~ Michael Pollan

So, talking about eating local ... we love it! Truly, madly, deeply! Pretty much all our veggies come from the veggie patch or a local market, except for the occasional indulgence in something that has been on a plane. Honestly, we don't know if it helps with all that carbon footprint stuff that is making the rounds everywhere, but it sure makes us feel good. Plus, we have a connection with several local vendors, the tomato guy even asks me how the plants are doing - they're quite happy, thankfully! I would feel terrible to tell him that I did the plant in!!!

So, this meal was one of those mostly local ones. Took all of 15 minutes to throw it together and tasted so blissful, I'm still talking about it! All that it took to make this meal:


* A slew of garlic and vidalia sweet onions from the market
* Spinach and Roasted Garlic Ravioli from the pasta guy (La Pasta?) at the Madrona farmers' market
* A fabulous sourdough loaf from La Panzanella
* Roasted Red Pepper tapenade from La Buona Tavola
* Yummy Cirrus Camembert from Mt.Townsend Creamery
* Gouda from Golden Glen Creamery

Not so local:

* A really tasty bottle of Tinta de Toro that Abbie heartily recommended - super fruity and luscious!
* And the rest of the glue (spices, oils, etc) We're not obsessively local about our ingredients, but we definitely keep an eye out for fresh local produce and wines as much as we can. Yes, there is definitely a feel-good factor there :) But the biggest kicks (for us) are the insanely awesome quality of the foods and the whole community-bonding thing.

As for this meal, what more could we ask for - fabulous ingredients, perfect company, warm summer evening. Sheer bliss!

And yes, substandard pictures, but whatever! :)


Mythili said...

I totally concur with you. there is some joy in going local.

Looking at your array you did shop at a handful local places..

bee said...

i want to move to seattle. here they grow lot of stuff locally, and send most of it out of state.

if i see desis breaking okra in the store, i give them the dagger eye. not that they care. it drives me batshit when people snap veggies and leave them there.

sra said...

It's a great picture, sets the mood and all!
Bee, I'm a compulsive okra snapper ;)

Srivalli said...

thats really hilarious..I can almost imagine his face..hahah...and thats a great mood for a outdoor feast!

Anonymous said...

I love locally grown vegetables. But in Boston it is seasonal. after October we have to go back to the usual grocery store.

Sig said...

I never did much veggie shopping back home, so I didn't even know the concept of snapping veggies to figure out if those are fresh... I am the type who goes to Pike Place market and let the vendors pack me a bag of veggies, only to come back home and see half are rotten :( I should take some lessons from you, I guess :)

amy purple said...

I really wish i didn't live in downtown chicago so we could grow some of our own food!

Nags said...

tell me about going local! singapore is quite blissful that way, a lot of greens that i am yet to experiment with, not to mention some cool veggies that were either unavailable or too expensive in india :)

Ashley said...

Your blog is beautiful! And I completely agree with you about the Seattle summers. Not so much today, but most of the weather has been amazing!