Friday, October 30, 2009
Recently I came across a magazine article detailing grocery store price comparisons of common food items: bread, apples, milk, and butter. I wondered how the local sources stacked up. All of the items cost more than any of the leading stores at the farmers' market and Reading Terminal Market. I wondered why local food was so 'expensive'. But despite the higher price point, I still believe that local food grown on small farms is the best value. These foods are just so much more filling than anything I've ever gotten at a grocery store. I also feel better on a different level when I eat these foods. I genuinely feel that these fresh, local items somehow contain more prana to nourish my system than industrially-farmed foods. Why is there more prana in local food? Namely, it's fresher. The produce I pick up at the farmers' market could likely have been picked that day; it's not been sitting in a cold room or on the grocery shelf for weeks. But also I think that it's the prana that goes into this food on the farm. Stephen Cope notes that prana is contained in fresh water, living plants, love, and inspiring words. I can't help but think the small farms where my food comes from are more nurturing environments than some giant industrial farm. Small, family-based farms, most not eligible for the government subsidies, growing chemical-free produce in great diversity must pour more energy and love into this food than the big companies. We are truly blessed in Philly to live so close to many of these farms, close enough to obtain virtually everything from them, vegetables, oats, butter, ketchup and mustard, eggs, meat, pickled goods, milk, and yogurt. The list goes on and on. Try and make the grocery store a foreign place, and see how much more fulfilling the whole food experience, from shopping to eating, can be.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I recently made a really delicious bowl of food, from almost all local ingredients, excluding the rice, oil, salt, and pepper. 1 cup wild rice 2 T oil 1 small carrot, chopped 1 small potato, chopped 1 pint mushrooms, quartered 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 1 bunch kale, stems separated from leaves, everything chopped 3/4 cup white wine Salt and pepper to taste 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese 2 cups cooked red bean 1 tsp. thyme Cook the rice. Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the carrot, potato, mushrooms, and kale stems and cook, tossing occasionally until beginning to soften, about 5-6 minuts. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Deglaze the bottom of the pot with the wine. Add the beans and season with salt, pepper, and thyme. Add the kale leaves on top of the vegetables, cover and steam the kale leaves for 5-6 minutes. Toss the vegetables and beans together and cook 5-6 minutes more. Serve the mixture on top of the wild rice sprinkled with the cheese. We are so lucky in Philadelphia to be able to get dried beans of all sorts grown locally. Take advantage of this opportunity and stop by the Lancaster Farm Fresh stand in Reading Terminal Market or to eliminate the trip for the winter, go sign up for Philadelphia Winter Harvest and pick up your food at a neighbor's house once a week, including vegetables, dairy, apples and cider, and BEANS!
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Fair Food Stand is one of my favorite Reading Terminal destinations. They recently moved to a new, larger space. I went down for the grand-opening festivities. The new space is three times as big as the old one and is located at the 12th Street entrance between Chinese and Ribs. The new stand will be open 365 days a year! A lot of wonderful things were said by many people. Channel 6 news was there covering the event. Two speakers stood out to me. A representative from the USDA introduced the 'Know your food, Know your farmer' initiative. Professor Marion Nestle of NYU addressed the local food movement as a social revolution. I would have to agree with her. I feel very small-town in this big city when I'm at the farmers' market or picking up my Winter Harvest order. There's nothing like local food to foster a great sense of community.
A side-effect of eating locally is that you start to appreciate all of the things you used to throw out without a thought.
Bones of cooked meats are fodder for stock. I never pitch a chicken carcass. Instead, it goes into a pot with an onion and garlic cloves, herbs, and spices to be boiled for quite a while. I'll strain this and the next day I'll reduce it and freeze the stock in ice cube trays for future use.
Fat also becomes a valuable resource. I don't know of a local oil, so I have to buy it from afar. I use this oil sparingly and buy it in bulk containers to reduce its impact. Butter is available at Reading Terminal, but I hate to go through it so quickly. Now I pour my bacon drippings into a small Tupperware after it cools a little. If a stock, soup, or stew forms a solid fat on top in the fridge, it goes into a container as well. Of course these fats are not good for eating on toast and bread, but they work well for cooking. They yield a great flavor to the food cooked in them.