Posted on June 16, 2009 by
Please welcome today’s guest poster, the lovely Dianne of Dianne’s Dishes. Dianne is an expert not only on cooking delicious meals, but doing so in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner.
No matter where you look these days you can find someone talking about eating locally. Some eat local all year round, and I think that’s easier to do when you live in areas of California and Florida that have local produce year round, and others just focus on eating local as much as possible. I fall in the latter category and focus on eating local whenever the opportunity is available.
There are several ways to eat local and it’s especially easy during the summer months! You can eat as local as you can possibly get and grow your own, you can visit a local farmer’s market or you can join a CSA. You can also do a little research and find out what is actually produced in your area and try to buy exclusively from them whenever possible. You can find a local dairy farm or a local mill, etc. You’d be amazed what might be around that you don’t know about before! But what are the real benefits?
First and most obvious what you are getting is fresher and comes to you from a much shorter distance. This makes it possible to have tomatoes right off the vine, strawberries ripe from the field, etc. Those items are normally picked green and then shipped to ripen as they travel. And anyone knows who has had a fresh ripe tomato or strawberry, versus ones that were shipped over great distances while still green, that there is just no comparison! Fresher also means more nutrients because they haven’t been around longer and started degrading and they also haven’t had to be waxed or otherwise preserved to last longer. Fresh, unmodified and healthier is always a plus!
Second, and as I mentioned above, your food isn’t being shipped over great distances, making the carbon footprint much smaller! If you grow it yourself you’re just walking out your own back door! That’s about as local as you can possibly get. If you are part of a local CSA or attend a local Farmer’s Market the items are coming from your local area, instead of being driven, flown or shipped by boat over great distances, hundreds, maybe thousands of miles, and sometimes from other countries! This makes your eating much greener over all and saves a whole lot of pollution from being added to environment. It also helps put money back in your local economy and we all know how important that is these days.
Third (and I have to admit this might be my favorite) you know where your food has come from. You get to meet even the farmer in many cases! A lot of farm have festivals and things that invite you come see what they do and where. For instance I get my milk from South Mountain Creamery. I’ve been over the farm to their festivals and I’ve even met some of the family! Also with our CSA Farmer Rick has an e-mail address and has always answered promptly whenever I’ve had a question. The farm even puts out a weekly newsletter keeping you up to date with what is going on with the crops and how they are faring. I’ve even met Farmer Rick briefly as well too! It’s nice to see where your food is coming from and have a connection to the people who bring that to you.
So what am I doing this year?
As I just mentioned we joined our CSA this summer (my sister is a member of a CSA too) and on top of what I’m planting myself since I knew we weren’t having a big garden this year, I wanted to be able to have locally grown, organic produce to enjoy all summer long. I’ve been keeping track of our CSA packages and have been very pleased so far! Jamison picks up our share on his way home from work and it makes Monday a lot of fun because I can’t wait to see what surprise I am going to get once he arrives! Farmer Rick normally gives an idea of what is going to be in the “box” each week, but that newsletter usually comes out after we’ve gotten our share. I like the surprise!
It’s also a good way to try new things. I have wanted to try garlic scapes for years, but never could find them anywhere. We got some a couple of weeks ago and I loved them! It’s fun to try new things and it’s a good experience for Alexis to see new things as well!
So now what? Want to find a CSA in your area (though in reality you’ve probably missed the boat for this year on that avenue) you can go to Local Harvest and use their CSA finder. Local Harvest also has a tool to help you find Farmer’s Markets in your area. It’s not hard to find these local avenues and you’ll be so happy you did!
Now I’m going to share with you a recipe with ingredients from my CSA! This is for those asparagus lovers (like me!) out there. By pairing the asparagus with the garlic scapes you take a “normal” dish and make it that much better! It’s also healthy, so what’s not to like about that?
What You’ll Need:
1 bunch of asparagus
3-4 garlic scapes, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Wash and trim the end of the asparagus. Place in a glass dish and sprinkle with garlic scapes, olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.
Ok now here’s the fun part…you can cook this several different ways! You can cook this in a preheated 400 F oven for 25-30 minutes until tender (or in the toaster oven which I like to do when it’s hot outside so as not to heat up the house!) or you can pan “fry” it over medium heat until tender or you can place in a foil packet or grill pan and grill for 10-15 minutes until tender. How’s that for versatile?
Notes: If you can’t find garlic scapes then you could use chopped garlic or onions instead.