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28 November 2008

Local, Organic, Food (Part 1)

I don't know about you, but I'm still digesting a hearty, caloric, too-high carbohydrated, Thanksgiving meal. So one would think it would be unlikely that I would again be writing about food today. But, here I am, posting about food again, even though I'm not too interested in eating much of anything now.

Late in the summer, we received word about a benefit dinner, sponsored by Slow Food Indy, for local chefs who were planning on attending the biennial Terre Madre conference in Italy. We attending two of these dinners, one at a one of our favorite restaurants (R Bistro locally owned, local foods, great chef) and one at a farm in a nearby community where dinner was served in the barn. At both of these events we were treated to wonderful, locally grown, in season food.

I think that one would have to have been living (or eating) under a rock if one were either a foodie, or environmentally oriented, not to at least have an inkling of an idea about the local foods movement. But, as a consumer, one is bombarded by terms like organic, local, natural when at the grocery store and sorting out the marketing bandwagon hype from the local movement can be slightly daunting.

I don't think that I had really taken any time to educate myself about why locally grown is a good thing until this summer. I'm not an expert, by any means, but I have learned much in the last few months. For the last several spring/summer seasons, we've frequented the local farmers' markets. There is now one within walking distance from me, although I usually buy at a larger one that is in the same area as other places I go while making the rounds for my usual Saturday morning tasks. This year, there is a Winter market that I'll try, and there is small market stand that sells local produce in season that will be open this winter. There isn't much local produce one can buy in the winter months in the Midwest, but I want to see this place survive -- and Florida oranges are Florida oranges whether I buy them here or at the big-chain market -- so I'll continue to go there.

On top of the pile of books I've started and have been meaning to complete are Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Michael Pollen's The Omnivore's Dilemma.

But, the event that I'm looking forward to most immediately, is a lecture next week by Alice Waters, chef at Berkeley's Chez Panisse, local-food, slow food guru, and originator of the Edible Schoolyard project. Waters is speaking at the Indianapolis Musuem of Art. The IMA's blog has posted a portion of an interview with Waters (here). I particularly liked what she had to say about working with artists:
The reason I’m interested in working with artists is to take food out of that ‘foody’ place and put it into the beauty of culture. Food is a universal language.

I'll be posting about the lecture soon.

3 comments:

(un)relaxeddad said...

I'm digesting a gastropub burger. It was very good, though.

Barbara Kingsolver - the only one I know is the Poisonwood Bible but that was so good, I think I'll have to go and find the one you mention in our local library.

I'm debating whether to go back to our local organic box, though trying to keep up with making fresh food from frequently unfamiliar or unchildfriendly ingredients is very difficult with two small children.

Cam said...

Unrelaxed, I've consummed more than a few gastropub burgers myself. The Kingsolver book is about her moving her family to a farm in Kentucky (very rural middle Amererica)and living completely off what they could grow or buy locally for 1 year. Some members of her family contributed chapters as well.

I know how difficult it is to get small children to eat fresh food. Do young British children have the same adversion to green things as many children in America do? I don't know about daily cuisine in England, but my personal opinion is that in America we only make veggie appeal more difficult with children because we feed them far too much high-fructose corn syrup. It's one of the reasons why we are all so fat! I live in the state that has the dubious distinction of being the fattest in the Union. One of our main crops? If you guessed corn, you're correct!

Kay said...

I have yet to get to our local farmer's market. But I am looking at labels now and choosing wherever possible not to buy imported. In NZ we are pushing buying Made in NZ, or what is grown here if at all possible. Makes sense.