Since leaving my garden in Austin, as well as the endless bounty of year-round growing seasons, i’ve been feeling pretty disconnected from my food. In Austin, when i wondered “what’s for dinner?” all i had to do was walk out front and see what needed picking. Freshly picked, seasonal, nourishing and delicious: i was deeply connected to my food, from seed to plate. When we first moved to Oregon, the transition away from growing my own food was made a little easier when my husband got a job at the local organic farm. He brought home fresh vegetables every week and i turned them into seasonal and delicious Oregon meals. That job ended, and the year of disconnection began.
For someone who touts “Eat Real Food” and “Grow Your Own,” i have not been practicing what i preach as closely as i’d like. Sure, i don’t buy tomatoes in the store, or asparagus in December, but i have been buying questionably grown veggies and meats from the discount grocery store. Hey, we’re on a budget, ya know? Well, that’s no reason to eat factory farmed pigs or toxic lettuce. We’ve been doing a LOT of reading and watching lately about raising animals and food crops in a biodiverse and ecologically responsible manner. My recent research has put accountability on the forefront of my brain. So i’ve decided to re-work my shopping decisions and just eat less if i want to eat more cheaply. “America may spend the least amount of money on food, but they also spend the most on health care.” I don’t really get sick, but i’m afraid if my dinners continue to be full of bottled tomato sauce, dry pasta and frozen veggies, i might start seeing the repercussions in my health. And yes, i COULD plant some veggies in some pots on my tiny patio… but that’s just not a happy place to grow, or a happy place to garden.
How thrilled was i last week when i just happened to stumble on the farmer’s market. i had forgotten we had a market on Wednesday! I have a hard time shopping at the Saturday markets: too many people, too many vendors, too much stimuli and too many choices. I’m not good with choices. Wednesdays are much better: plenty of choices without being overwhelming, and room to walk down the lane without Pocket being trampled by loose children. As i strolled past the local vendors, i started feeling something familiar: connectivity. Smelling, touching, seeing all the in season produce rekindled something inside of me, and i no longer saw french breakfast radishes, spinach, baby walla wallas, cucumbers, Canadian bacon or goat feta: i saw a SALAD!
Just thinking about the salad we’d have for dinner that night made my mouth water. I soon picked up some salad mix and fresh strawberries to round it off and i was on my way home with a smile on my face. That night’s dinner was the best we’d had in months. So many flavors, so much texture and so many lovely shades of pink and green: they all went together perfectly because, in part, they were all grown in the same season and because they were all grown the “right” way. No spray to wash off. No hundreds of miles under their belts. Just good, local, organic produce. From farmer to plate via the happy scheming of one amateur chef and would be farmer, stuck in an apartment without a garden to call her own, happily enjoying and inspired by the bounty of the season.
How about you? Do you struggle to stay connected to seasonal eating?