Monday, May 01, 2006

Eating from my foodshed
May is Eat Locally Month, and my boyfriend and I have decided to participate. For the entire month, we will try to eat only foods that come from within approximately 100 miles of our home in the East Bay Area of San Francisco--our local "foodshed."

The costs of flying or trucking in food from around the world are hidden from us, but think of the wasted energy involved in flying in organic mangos from the Philippines or hothouse bell peppers from the Netherlands. You wouldn't pay for a plane ticket for a courier to bring those foods by hand. If someone subsidized the plane ticket, wouldn't you still be appalled by the wasted fuel and effort involved in flying foods around the world while perfectly good food is being grown in your area?

So--is anyone else in? I realize this is a much more difficult exercise for folks in the middle of the desert or the frozen tundra, but people did it successfully for millions of years...

Here's how it's gone so far.

We took a trip to the farmer's market at Jack London Square and to the Berkeley Natural Foods store.

We bought about $40 worth of food altogether, mostly organic, with our foodshed stretched to about 190 miles, to Fresno. Our haul included, among other things, almonds, first-press Bariani extra virgin olive oil, asparagus, broccoli, apples, Yukon Gold, red, and sweet potatoes, yellow and red onions, romaine lettuce, cucumber, carrots, pea sprouts, mushrooms, cranberry beans, yogurt, eggs, and milk.

Dinner last night was mostly locally grown, with a few exceptions because it was still April. I've marked the non-local foods in red.

I chopped and sauteed a yellow onion in olive oil in one pan, then added pea sprouts snipped to 1/2 inch lengths with kitchen shears; sauteed minced garlic and diced button mushrooms in another; and peeled and diced a large Yukon Gold potato and barely covered it with simmering water in a third saucepan. When everything was tender, I stirred it all together and added some salt and pepper. I picked some stems of curly parsley from our yard and snipped it into the pan as well.

In another pan, I made crepes: egg, milk, olive oil, salt, and flour. We placed some shredded cheese on the crepes and used the heat of scoops of the potato-mushroom-greens mixture to melt the cheese. It was delicious!

I also cooked beans to take to work with me today: I poured boiling water over a mixture of cranberry beans, chopped garlic and shallots, slivers of golden sage leaves picked from the garden, salt, pepper, and olive oil. I put the casserole, covered, in a 250-degree oven for a few hours, and then added a few chopped tomatoes that I had stored in the freezer from last summer's harvest to make some variation on fagioli all'uccelletto. The beans came out meltingly tender even though I hadn't soaked them.

For breakfast today, I had one sunny-side-up egg and a spoonful of the cold beans. I packed an apple, a cucumber, beans, salad greens, and a little container of salad dressing made from olive oil, shallots, oregano from my garden, and lemon juice from the neighbor's garden, along with the usual non-local salt and pepper.

So far, so good, although my coworker brought in a big plate of donuts and I am having a devil of a time not helping myself to a big chocolate-glazed Boston Cream puff of sugary fried goodness.

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