Friday, January 16, 2009

eating local

I'm so excited about this that I had to write it up on my facebook page AND here on my blog.

I try very hard to eat as locally as possible. Living in southern California affords me with a lot of fresh produce to choose from. After reading Animal Vegetable Miracle I got really pumped on the idea of thoughtful eating - really thinking about my food and where it comes from and what might have gone into the production of it. M and I rarely eat fast food (and the times we do we're more apt to go to a local kebab shop or noodle bar instead of a global burger chain or taco joint) so I felt like we were off to a good start. But I'm guilty of buying strawberries in November because I want to have some dipped in chocolate after dinner. Or buying a tomato whenever I want a tomato salad. And it never occurred to me before Animal Vegetable Miracle why those fruits just tasted so-so.

So I set off to buy produce that was only in season, but my markets provided no clues. Year round, I can buy any fruit or vegetable that my heart pleases. I thought the farmers markets might be a better choice, but as M pointed out these farmers might be local to me, but they might also be shipping their goods across the country. So there was no way to know for sure that their produce wasn't 100% organic and pesticide/growth hormone free. A careful look at the booths confirmed that only a handful of the merchants posted signs boasting of 100% certified organic. Then again, as Barbara Kingsolver mentions in her book, the best organic farmer she purchased from wasn't certified as an organic farmer because (if I remember correctly) she couldn't afford the certification fees.

I have a point and here it is. I just read on Apartment Therapy's cooking blog that the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has a tool on their website where you can enter information like your location and time of year and they will provide you with a list of produce that are in season for the region and time of year(!). How awesome is that? It will also provide a list of what's fresh in bordering states so that you can find produce that might be grown just a little farther than your homestate while still staying local. Naturally for my area it lists northern California as the "bordering state."

Buying local organic produce isn't cheap and I know I am lucky that I live in an area that is condusive to this with a partner who agrees with my lifestyle practices. We pay a lot more money for our fruits and veggies and meats than your average joe because that's important to us. But we cut back on things like going out or mega-cable packages because those things aren't as important. If you have a chance to try out high quality whole foods maybe just once a week or so, I think you'll notice a difference in taste. Most of the time when I cook I don't make any special sauces or use any fancy seasoning. I think the food I cook tastes good because the ingredients I use are good. So there's no need to do anything to my squash soup because the squash is so darned tasty.

Okay, enough of my soapbox. I just wanted to tell you about the NRDC website is all. Use it if you choose it.

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