Monday, August 27, 2007

Local Produce 101 (with Linkage!)

Gorgeous berries right? Well, they tasted as good as they looked too! Unfortunately that isn't always the case with our produce. I know one huge pet peeve of mine is spending a little extra cash on some pretty raspberries that only end up tasting like so much refrigerated water. Conventional fruits and veggies from the grocery store are now bred and selected for how they hold up on their long journeys from (industrial) farm to table and for how they aesthetically "perfect" they look on the shelves. Taste, is much less of a consideration in the U.S. unlike other countries where consumers demand produce that berries that taste like well... berries. Vitamin and mineral content (directly related to soil quality and rapidly declining, though overwhelmingly higher in organic produce) is also not a concern for the corporations that produce and distribute our fruits and vegetables and obviously neither is the fair treatment of agricultural labor or the preservation of the environment.

With tremendous efforts from farmers, health advocates and food activists, local farmers markets are experiencing a renaissance in the U.S. Along with home gardening, CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture) and food co-ops, farmers Markets offer consumers alternative to industrially produced food that may be cheap in the short run but hides its "true cost" by compromising nutrition, human rights and the environment. It's also fun and delicious! Much of the produce available there is organic (talk to your farmer-- who may or may not be able to afford official organic classification) and all of it is much fresher than what you're used to. You'll certainly find new things to try, foods that grow well in your climate that you may have never heard of (I've found jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, garlic scapes and red scallions among others here in NY) and you'll definitely be inspired to cook more, experiment more, and eat better.

*Deconstructing Dinner is not a vegan podcast per se, but they do have some amazing podcasts on the realities of industrial food-- and our alternatives to it. The episodes on "Packaged Foods Exposed," "Personal vs. Corporate Responsibility" and "The End of Food - The Evolution of Nutrition and Human Health" are some of my favorites. There are also episodes on organic farming, co-ops, local food, food in public schools and more.
*Just Food is a non-profit dedicated to creating a sustainable food system in NYC.
*The Southern Fried Vegan has some yummy ideas for her local produce.
*The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter is the book that made me go vegan. It is not written at all from an animal rights perspective, but if you want a Fast Food Nation-type look all the food you buy, this book gives a good overview.
*Last weekend at the market I answered a survey for a for Farm Aid worker. Her questions reminded me of how important talking about these issues really is. She also gave me a flyer for the concert and a cute pin, see?

No comments: