Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I'm obsessed with food.  Not in a wine-pairings (I am currently imbibing something that brags of "Best in Class" appellations in the 3.0L category; I guess they don't specify the cardboard box part) and finish-with-squid-ink way.  While I enjoy adventures in culinary creativity, these days I leave that to my sister over at http://athome-ann.blogspot.com/.  No, my obsession with food has more to do with whether I can trust it to contain the stuff my body needs without also delivering toxic chemicals.  This sounds pretty simple, but I don't think it is anymore.  Maybe it never was, but since Monsanto was founded in 1901 by a pharmaceutical industry veteran to make artificial sweeteners, big agriculture in the US and abroad has done some pretty creepy things to food and farming.

Eating locally produced food has nutritional, social, and economic benefits.  Also, it may come in handy in the event of the Apocalypse.  I am not a strict locavore, and certainly not a political one.  Nonetheless, given my priorities with respect to what I eat, local food is the best option.  This meal came mostly from Maine (eggs, milk, meat, veggies), or New England (cheese), my salt and pepper come from abroad (although I am very picky about those too: the salt is French Atlantic sea salt and the pepper is certified organic).
Food is more than just nutrition, but that is my primary objective.  Order a salad in a restaurant.  Then eat a salad made from greens you grew yourself.  Few people who care about how food tastes won't notice a difference.  What is that difference?  Even organic mixed greens from the store taste different.  Food loses vibrancy as soon as it is harvested, and it loses nutritional value.  (I would love to see a good study of the exact rate of nutrient depletion, if anyone has one.)

What you absorb through ingestion and environment is all your body has to run on; the same is true of the stuff you eat.  If your food is grown in depleted, chemically treated soil, it stands to reason that it will be nutritionally deficient and will carry those chemicals with it.  Given that sprouts and kefir grains do not grow well in water treated with fluoride and chlorine (most recipes specify the use of untreated water), it might be reasonable to assume that those compounds have a negative impact on healthy cell development.  When I buy my food from a farmer who has rinsed it in fertile fields and then brought it directly to market, I trust it to be nutritionally potent.

I find that local food is also a good way to make friends!  In the area we used to live in, most of the  people I knew that lived there were connected to the farms and coops where I obtained food.  So, when I first moved to this area I called a local organic farmer.  Where could I find fresh eggs, raw Jersey milk, grass-fed meats?  She's become one of my good friends.  Living where food is grown, it is abundant and accessible, and the entrepreneurial energy and work ethic that comes from running small farms and food processing businesses is always present.  Food creates community.  
Local food is also more secure.  The German population was crippled during World War II by the criminal starvation blockades of the Allied powers, as they had limited domestic food sources.  Stalin wiped out between seven and ten million Ukrainians with engineered famines (in that case, even local food was not safe from a tyrannical despot).  Food embargoes are powerful acts of war (as are all embargoes, but that is another conversation).  Rising fuel prices have a tremendous impact on food production, raising costs and prices.  Not only are many farms tractor dependent, but synthetic fertilizers are petroleum-derived.  Fuel costs are an obvious factor in transport, both of raw materials and finished farm goods.  Simply put, local food made with local inputs and organic fertilizers does not travel as far. When arable land becomes acres of bloat boxes, food has to go farther to get to the table.

Certainly, the freshest food is that you grow yourself, and some might criticize me for emphasizing purchasing locally grown food rather than gardening.  There are some things I like to grow at home; I try to identify what I do best with my resources and leave the rest to the professionals.  I have found that small farms benefit from an optimal combination of economies of scale and expertise which allow for a productive division of labor in the marketplace, such as I cannot create by myself at home.  (Of course, mega-farms have the best economies of scale, but chemically-intensive monocultures are sort of like nuclear power: shop now, pay later).  That's just me; there are lots of terrific home growers out there and I commend you. 

Now, for a recipe full of non-local ingredients:)  By request -

Raw, organic energy bars

1 C almonds (I buy Spanish raw almonds; most domestic almonds that are labeled "raw" are actually pasteurized)
1 C cashews
~3/4 Lbs pitted dates (~20)
1/2 C raw honey (I get mine from Honey Gardens Apiary in Vermont).
1/3 C organic, unsweetened coconut

In food processor, chop the nuts and then add the dates.  Continue to chop until it starts to form a ball; add additional ingredients and process again.  Roll out between waxed paper on cookie sheet and then freeze until firm.  Cut into bars and stack with wax paper; store in freezer.

My latest go-to recipe for any veg and grain combo I have on hand, although I like kamuts and green beans these days.  This is a repeat, but it bears repeating.  I double the dressing because I use it on everything.

From Oh She Glows   
Protein Power Goddess Bowl

  • 2 cups uncooked brown rice (or however much you want to make)
  • 1.5-2 cups uncooked lentils (you need 4 cups cooked lentils)
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
  • 1 red/yellow/orange pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup Tahini lemon garlic dressing
  • 8-10 sundried tomatoes, sliced (optional)
  • 2 large handfuls of mixed greens (or spinach)
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • Lemon wedges and olives, for garnish (optional)
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste (I think I used about 1/4-1/2 tsp kosher salt in the sauté)
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil for sautéing
Directions: Cook lentils and rice according to package directions, rinse with cold water, strain, and set aside. (Soak them overnight in water with some apple cider vinegar to get maximum nutrition from them) In a large skillet, add in the oil and heat to low-medium temperature. Now add in the onion, garlic, red pepper, salt, pepper, and optional sundried tomatoes. Sauté for about 5 minutes over low-medium heat. Now add in the cooked, drained, and rinsed 4 cups of lentils and stir well. Cook for another few minutes. Add in 1 cup of tahini lemon garlic dressing and stir well. Cook until it starts to bubble and then remove from heat. Add in 2 large handfuls of greens and parsley and stir well again. Portion cooked brown rice into the bowl(s) and then scoop the sauté lentil mixture overtop of the rice. Garnish with olives and a lemon wedge if preferred. Makes about 6 large portions. Dressing: Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Directions: In a food processor, process all ingredients until smooth. Makes about 1.5 cups.


  1. Thanks for the shout out! Although, I don't know that I would consider myself an expert in wine pairings or squid ink, I appreciate a good boxed wine as much as the next girl. I'm making the power protein bowl this week, too!