First - Happy August!
I'm almost finished with Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally, by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon. I've read a lot of books like this one, seeing as my job with the Oregon Environmental Council's Healthy Food and Farms program revolves around education and resources for eating locally, but what is special about Plenty was that it is set in the Pacific Northwest, B.C. to be exact. Though every state (and community and city block and even different spots in my garden) has different microclimates, it was great to read about the struggles and triumphs of eating locally in an area with similar resources as my dear Oregon. I've been attempting to eat as locally and sustainably as I can, but am nowhere near 100% local. While I'd love to try such an experiment under the right circumstances, I think what is most important is taking the steps to use the resources around me, getting to know my local farmers and producers, and making sure I'm living in a way that respects my resources.
One of my biggest challenges as a food lover is making sure my eyes don't get too big for my stomach. As you know, I love experimenting with food and new ingredients, which can be a bit taxing on my budget, my kitchen shelf and fridge space, and on the environment. Throwing out food that has gone bad before I've had a chance to enjoy it is a symptom of buying too much and reusing too little, problems that defeat the purpose of my efforts to live a sustainable life. Because I'm often cooking for myself, leftovers are a common phenomena, but I get too excited about some new recipe that I'll banish the Tupperware to the back of the fridge, only to find it a few weeks later (yikes). This is where the creative part comes in - I can no longer avoid eating leftovers and using the same ingredients for a few days (or weeks) - but that doesn't mean my meals ever have to be boring.
My roommate Weasel bought a great loaf of french bread from Trader Joe's last week, which had been thoroughly enjoyed - especially with that carrot soup a few days ago - but had gotten a bit stale. When I asked her if I could use the rest of it to make something for the blog, W laughed and told me to have at it - she wasn't planning on a meal of crunchy bread crust anytime soon. With visions of
As I sat down to make lunch, I looked around at what was available - I still had a few of those wonderful little orange tomatoes, a bit of mâche, and some oregano and cilantro that wasn't getting any fresher with time. I decided to use up everything that might not make it to tomorrow, and put together a panzanella, a traditional Tuscan summer bread salad. I cut the bread into cubes and soaked them in red wine vinegar, olive oil, and salt for a half hour, tossed the tasty cubes with the halved cherry tomatoes, chopped herbs, capers, and some carrot shavings, and served it on a bed of mâche. Just a touch more olive oil over the salad, and I was ready to eat.
I'll be honest, it felt pretty great to be resourceful and creative - but it's only one step and I know I've got a long way to go. I guess that's what viable sustainability is all about - taking one step at a time towards better habits and a better life.
Have a beautiful day, and Eat Well.