Monday, August 25, 2008

Locavore's Delight

Drew, Ella, and Drew's mom, Sherill enjoy a local breakfast

Zucchini Pancakes (recipe below), fresh homemade Applesauce, Garden Salsa Fresca, Peaches from Drew's aunt and uncle, Howard and Betty's place in Merced, Plum Syrup by Sherill, made from Howard and Betty's Satsuma Plums

We've arrived at the time of year when nearly all veggies and fruits are coming from either our own or someone we know's garden. Each morning and evening when I sit down to the table, I am feeling very grateful for the close, delicious bounty we are eating. I look at my plate and review what went into the meal, and usually find that maybe only two ingredients are from an unknown source.

This style of eating has recently been popularized by two books, "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan, and "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle", by Barbara Kingsolver. A third book by Gary Paul Nabhan, published many years ago in 2001, called "Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods", explored this topic before it was trendy. Pollan explored four different meals representing four different paradigms of eating in his book, and along the way skillfully describes the socio-political landscape of modern American eating. Kingsolver and her family endeavored to eat only what they could grow, or access within 100 miles of their Virginia homestead for an entire year. Her characteristic humor and rich vignettes about life accent recipes and the struggles of agrarian life. It is HARD to eat only what you grow, or can get close by. Our society has moved far away from this model of life. Nabhan and his family endeavored the same feat as Kingsolver, but they live in Arizona, so their task was a little harder, and Nabhan explored desert wildcrafting and seafood from the Sea of Cortez as part of their year-long project.

A new vocabulary word has arisen from this new attention to the places our food comes from: locavore. If you are a locavore, you strive to eat food that you grew, wildcrafted, or purchased from a local farmer. People are beginning to demand a re-localization of their food! This is so fantastic and amazing to me. It's something I've been looking to see for over ten years, in the shadow of my sustainable agriculture studies. Even in urban areas, people are buying farm shares, visiting farmer's markets in record numbers, and in the SF Bay Area, there is a magazine called "Edible East Bay" featuring articles, recipes, and ads, all centered around the theme of local eating.

I'm proud that we are participating in our own neighborhood, and inspiring others, and continuously creating the conversation about how to re-localize the thing that most directly connects us to this earth around us: food.

Zucchini Pancakes

1 large, oversized garden zucchini, or 2-3 med. zukes, shredded
1/2 yellow onion, shredded
1 medium potato, shredded
2-3 eggs (to taste)
approx. 1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp olive oil
chopped basil or preferred herbs
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Fry over medium-high heat in grapeseed oil or butter. Use a lid during the first side until browned, then remove lid, flip and cook the second side uncovered. Serve with some combination of: butter, sour cream, applesauce, salsa, pesto, or anything else that sounds yummy! Makes about 12-18 pancakes.

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