May 27, 2012

Seasonal Eating

Our growing season is almost over (and by "our", I mean at both my house and all around the Tampa Bay area) and I know I should have taken pictures of our garden in full bloom. At the peak, the turnips and beets were going crazy, and we had lettuce and scallions and herbs galore! Now, as we wind down, the last of the blueberries are ripening (we had a great turn out on our one surviving blueberry bush!). As a hint of whats to come, the orange tree has about 15 tiny babies that will grow through the summer and be ready during the Florida winter (can't wait!). Our carrots and fennel are almost ready to harvest, and I will make sure to take pictures. But to hold you over, here is one shot I took while sitting in the back of the yard (you cannot see the raised beds behind me). Visible in this shot are the blueberry bush, the lemon tree, the lime tree, the orange tree, scallions, fennel, and the tops of the carrots:

Previous posts have talked about "knowing" where our food comes from and becoming vegans. It is still as true as ever, and now, to add to it, the slow food movement and being a "locavore" have starting creeping into my food/cooking choices. I have been reading.... a lot (having my Nook Color totally helps). Recently I have read "Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser, many Michael Pollan books, and "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingslover. Not only do these books advocate knowing where your food comes from (i.e. avoiding processed and fast foods with ingredients you can't pronounce), but also about supporting the local, small farmers as they face the industrialized food system. It takes a lot to change your thinking about food (trust me, it took a lot of reading and research), and I am not trying to preach to you, but just ask that you take some time to consider your food and what you really know about it and where it comes from. I know it's lofty to think that we can change the system (the big companies controlling our food system), but I believe every small step counts.

One thing all this reading has opened my eyes to is seasonal eating. Seasonal eating is exactly what it sounds like, eating based on the season. When I lived in Ohio, I had a very vague concept of this: corn was ready at the end of summer, and apples and pumpkins were plentiful in the early fall. But the American grocery store has almost bust destroyed the concept of seasonal eating. All food is in season. You can purchase a tomato all year around. Yea, that tomato is cheap, and usually pretty tasteless, but now you can make that recipe you have been dying to try. Never mind that the tomato was shipped over 2000 miles to your grocery store (what a waste of gas!), was grown with lots of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and is most likely genetically engineered to last that long trip yet still be "fresh" when you buy know what, I am preaching.....I am sorry. I am very passionate about all of this now (I wish I had found this passion before I went to college!).

Really the point I was going to make with this post was, luckily, Mike and I discovered this awesome, local, organic farm back in October that we have been buying veggies from. Magnolia Organics is about a 30 minute drive north of where we live (though some weekends they come to local farmers markets that are closer to my house). From September to June, we can purchase a harvest box from them every week with what ever seasonal produce they are growing (in Florida, the season are slightly different than up north). It is totally awesome!! Since we discovered them, we have been planning our vegan meals around what we get in the box each week (aka: seasonal eating). I am currently researching ways to eat more local in this area. I don't think we will ever be 100% local (agave isn't grown any where near here), but something is better than nothing (small steps!). So what I would like to share with you are two dinners from this week (and there are more backed up pictures that I will hopefully share soon) that are almost entirely local, organic, and vegan (the prefect trifecta).

This meal was from a few days ago: red fish from the Gulf of Mexico (my bro caught it back in March when he was visiting), and organic zucchini, fairy tale eggplant, cherry tomatoes, and scallions from Magnolia (the fish is hidden under all the veggies). This was an entirely local meal :)

Tonight's dinner was a little more ambitious. Homemade naan, celery and rice soup, and fresh green been salad:
Now the flour for the naan was definitely not local (I don't think I can get local flour here) but it was organic. The organic green beans from Magnolia are topped with scallions from Magnolia, olive oil (not local or organic), and homemade spicy mustard from Mike's dad. The soup has organic onions and celery from Magnolia, homemade veggie broth (made with left over pieces and parts from Magnolia veggies), vegan butter (not local), and organic brown rice (also not local).

I guess the take away message should be that you should make your own food (so you know where it comes from) and take pride in it (I will try and take less pride so you don't think I am a food snob).

Until next time, if you decide to come back next time (and don't hate me too much for being a little too wordy), please enjoy this photo of a mommy turtle guarding her nesting hole on Honeymoon Island;

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