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Produce of the Season - Eating Simply in Season

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Produce of the Season - Eating Simply in Season
by Monica Wiitanen

A real pleasure that comes with eating local foods is indulging in the produce of the season. Spinach, Asian greens, mustard greens, chard, kale, garlic, onions, lettuce, asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb, beets, carrots, snow peas, sugar snaps, and the first of the new potatoes---all these and more can be teamed with buffalo, beef, elk, lamb, poultry, or eggs (or pie crust or scones, in the case of strawberries and rhubarb), and some real fine meals will be on your table.

How about buffalo and snow peas; sag pannir (spinach with freshly made cheese) to go with a roasted chicken rubbed with a paste of garlic, ginger, chides, salt, cumin, coriander and black pepper;lamb chops on a bed of garlic scapes (both grilled); salads; cheese omelet with sweet red onion and new potatoes, with a dusting of Chile powder?

While our household is accustomed to foods from many parts of the world, and so my list will include Chinese, Indian, and North African, as well as the American foods I grew up with, there's no need to look for new recipes when you want to eat more local food.

Start with whatever you and your family are used to, and see what is produced locally. If there's a food you really like and you haven't found it yet, check out the Valley Organic Grower's Associate Directory or talk with a grower.

If new recipes are something you enjoy, try Simply in Season.

With such a huge variety of foods raised in the Valley, eating local food is fun. Sure, it takes a little time to rethink menus, and it may become desirable to "put some by" for enjoyment during the winter. I'm not suggesting slaving in the kitchen all summer, but over the years I've found a few foods that are well worth the trouble to freeze, dry, juice, pickle, or can.

Ripe fruit frozen as is (pitted, hulled, maybe sliced) is just great, especially when only partially hawed. A couple of cups of strawberries, a few pints of pitted cherries, and several bags of sliced peaches in he freezer are enough to get me happily through the winter. I eat my fill when the fruits are in season and put a little by for a treat later. Easy foods to freeze include all the fruits as well as peppers, chides, and tomatoes, none of which require pre-treatment, unless you peer your sweet peppers and Anaheims roasted.

The main thing is to decide which foods will be really enjoyed and therefore will be worth the effort.

Every time we spend a food dollar we make choices. Will this purchase strengthen our community? Will this purchase help maintain my health? Will this purchase make the world a better place for future generations? In other words do we know how this food was raised, and did the agricultural practices support a healthy future? How many miles did this food travel to get here? I'm in no way suggesting that we become strict "localvores", but I do think that becoming aware of some of these issues now will lead to greater food security in the future. It might even get us to know our neighbors better, and it might just get fresh strawberries delivered to your door in time for breakfast.

The above article is excerpted from one that originally appeared in the North Fork Merchant Herald - June 20-July 17, 2006 issue and is reprinted by permission. Monica Wiitanen is my friend from Neighborly Neighbors on Lamborn Mesa here in my hometown of Paonia, Colorado. She is owner/grower of Small Potatoes Farm.

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