Sunday, December 16, 2012

Best of MMM: Local Flavor

Today is a momentous and bittersweet occasion. It is our last day at market for the year, and really until the spring rolls around again. For me, it will likely be the last Fall market in Washington, DC. With applications in, I don't know where my next steps will take me, but that path will undoubtedly be outside of the DC metro area. That said, I have grown to love the local flavor of the region, the change of the seasons, and how each one brings something so completely new. This post from back in 2010 captures the discourse around locavorism. And while the photos I threw in from this fall reflect our current harvest, the recipe following provides a taste of what I looked forward to for the past three summers.
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First of all, I apologize for neglecting all of you and my blog. While my time has been consumed by finding lodging, my heart has been yearning to play in the kitchen. To revel in summer's bounty and the wonderful local food options. Oops, did I say local? About a week ago, an OpEd in the esteemed NY Times gave locavorism a bad rap. Fortunately for me, there are some very vocal proponents out there.

So, Stephen Budiansky (a name I had never heard of before) wrote a scathing article arguing the pointlessness of eating locally. Ouch. But his myopic critique of this food movement left me less than satiated. While he makes a couple of good points, his wanton disregard for all other externalities associated with the production, distribution, and consumption of food boils my blood:
"The relative pittance of our energy budget that we spend on modern farming is one of the wisest energy investments we can make, when we honestly look at what it returns to our land, our economy, our environment and our well-being."

Stay calm. We have some food advocates on our side! Grist ran a stream called Food Fight, that let some big names (and others a little smaller) take their best shot at Mr. Budiansky.

Jennifer Maiser, founder of Eat Local Challenge, encapsulates the entire issue of food very nicely, say: "We need to pay attention to how we get to the farmers market, how we treat our food when we get it home, and how much food we waste. But eating locally is a joyful step in the right direction -- for our economy, our community, and our local sustainable farmers."

Elanor Starmer, the Western Region Director at Food & Water Watch, tackles the idea of voting with you fork and your wallet. She advocates "getting involved in the policies that shape our food system ... We can't buy our way out of the problem if we don't have any choice about what we buy."

Others talked about the joys of tasting local and seasonal produce, feeling a sense of community, and supporting a local economy - even as a way to buffer future risk of the implosion of our current industrial and fossil-fuel reliant food sector. This is definitely a two-way street, and self-proclaimed foodies can often come off as self-righteous and too inflexible. We both have areas for improvement, but that shouldn't be cause to throw in the towel.

Food-system analyst and executive director of Crossroads Resource Center, Ken Meter, concluded so poetically, that I will end this quasi-rant with his last line: "I build a new food system because the one we have is so fundamentally broken, even at low oil prices, and because we have no choice but to build a new one."

Another good rebuttal was published on the Seattle Local Food Blog! Why did I leave, again?
With all this talk of local local local, I felt justified in including my experience at the DC "State" Fair this morning. While the fantabulous pie I entered did not win (who's judging this, anyway?), the amazingness of the Columbia Heights and nearby community coming together - in this case eating copious amounts of pie - was well worth the toil. The pie received good reviews from all who tried, so let me know what you think!

Cardamom Crumble Peach Pie
Crust:
1.5 cups All-Purpose or Whole Wheat Flour
0.5 cup Fine Cornmeal
2 tbs Brown or Turbinado Sugar
Pinch Salt
1/3 cup Oil
1/4 cup Water (perhaps more, depending on consistency)

Combine dry ingredients. Add wet, working together gently until just forms a ball. The dough should be soft. DO NOT over-knead or the gluten will cause tough crust.

Filling:
3 cups Peaches (white preferred), sliced
¼ cup Agave Nectar or 1/3 cup Turbinado Sugar
1-2 tsp Cardamom, ground
2 tbs Tapioca Starch (or organic corn).
1 tsp Vanilla Extract (optional)

Combine all ingredients. You're good.

Crumble:
1 cup Flour
½ cup Almonds, chopped
1 tsp Cinnamon, ground
¼ cup Turbinado Sugar or 3 tbs Agave
Oil to consistency

Same as above. Should start clumping.

1. Let crust bake in preheating oven to 350F.
2. Add fruit. Bake another 15 minutes.
3. Add crumble. Bake another 15-20 minutes until crust is just getting golden and peaches are starting to bubble.
4. Remove. Let cool slightly for the filling to gel. Consume with a large scoop of non-dairy vanilla soycream or LOCAL ice cream. Haha.

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