Saturday, January 6, 2007

Diversifying my diet

This morning we headed out on our usual weekly winter task of visiting the Morningside Farmer’s Market that is open on Saturdays. More expensive than the three-season Piedmont Park farmer’s market (that closes in winter), the Morningside Market requires that all its vendors offer certified organic produce. (The certification process is expensive, so some growers who use organic methods don’t get certified.)

First up was my usual Saturday morning treat of a crepe with chocolate ganache and orange peel–not a healthy breakfast, so I’ll be careful what I eat for the rest of the day. Fresh chocolate-orange crepes are so delicious, though, that I daydream about them on other days of the week.

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While I munched on my crepe, we wandered from booth to booth to pick out vegetables. A year ago, I couldn’t have told you what farmers grow in January in Georgia. Think about that for a minute. How sad is it to live day-to-day never knowing the cycles of food–to lack even a basic understanding of something that is involved constantly in our day-to-day lives? Of course, now I know that this time of year, Georgia growers produce braising greens (turnip greens, collard greens, etc.); brussel sprouts; several types of lettuce (who knew you could get fresh salad greens here year-round?); various herbs; winter squash (butternut, African, acorn, etc.); and all sorts of root vegetables: sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, radishes, and sometimes carrots. Eating seasonally–eating organic vegetables pulled from the earth and sold to me at the peak of their flavor–makes me so happy.

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When we finished making our purchases at the farmer’s market, we headed to The Bread Garden to purchase our dose of bread. The whole-grain breads at The Bread Garden (which we have them slice for us) are slightly nutty and absolutely delicious; we go through a loaf every one to two weeks. To keep from wasting the bread, we freeze the bread when we get it home; then when we need bread, we take out how many slices we want to use and defrost them in the microwave and/or toast them. Today, I was compelled by a basket of dinner rolls on the counter to buy four of those as well.

When we got home, we spread our winter bounty on the dining table so that I can plan our week’s meals around them.

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Four sweet potatoes, four parsnips, five green (hothouse) tomatoes, whole-wheat bread, African squash, braising greens, salad greens, basil, and four dinner rolls were $32. That is pricier than a similar load of purchases would have been in other seasons, but I consider the purchases a good deal nonetheless. (For those of you up on my dietary restrictions, I am gradually trying to add back formerly forbidden foods to see if they still cause pain now that I have been on my medication for about six months. Pan-fried green tomatoes is next up on the list!) We’ll supplement this produce with foods from Whole Foods, though I hope as our tastes and abilities evolve, we’ll be able to rely more on local ingredients. (I keep hoping Whole Foods will develop more of a commitment to purchasing local foods, as well. Why do they need to ship us New Zealand’s apples when Ellijay and Jasper, Georgia, produce quite a crop?)

One of the best things about trying to eat seasonally is that it has forced me to move outside my (previously comparatively small) repertoire of fruits and vegetables. In the past year, I have, for the first time, cooked with or eaten these types of produce:

turnip greens

collard greens

African squash

acorn squash

butternut squash

parsnips

radishes

calabaza squash

turnips

brussel sprouts

rhubarb

daikon

fresh basil

fresh rosemary

fresh lavender

. . . and probably a variety of other types that I can’t remember right now. Expanding my/our diet to include these foods has expanded my horizons and my appreciation of the bounty that the earth offers us when we take care of it.

Next month, we will begin receiving fruits, vegetables, and eggs from the pesticide-free CSA at the Farmer’s Fresh Food Network; our weekly supply will arrive at a pick-up point two miles from our house on Wednesday evenings for only $24/week! I’m terribly excited about seeing what else we develop a taste for from their offerings.

2 comments:

Regina said...

We did the CSA thing our first year in California. We even got eggs! I loved it, but some of the produce would go to waste before I could use it. Now, I shop at the farmer's market and a local produce store for our produce (Berkeley Bowl: tons of local produce). I am really hoping that this winters chill/frost will not change my ability to get all these great organics on the cheap!

the veggie paparazzo said...

I don't know where I would be without our local farmer's market, but the weekly cost of the CSA is a good bit lower than what we spend at the market (and get get fewer items at the market). I hope we'll be able to use it all or give away anything we don't use!