Nice piece by the equally nice Kim Pierce in today's Dallas Morning News, tasking Claudine Martyn of Slow Food Dallas to cook up a meal using only local and seasonal ingredients.
Good looking dishes, but the concept hardly seems a challenge.
What I would really love to see is that same article, but written in January. Maybe a change of venue, too: dining on local, seasonal produce (no preserves) in January somewhere in the middle of Iowa; creating a mixed greens salad picked from nearby farms in Medicine Hat--that's Canada--sometime in the dead of winter; or seeing how long before your family gets really, really bored with a diet based on the native flora and fauna around Phoenix. That would be impressive.
The local-seasonal-sustainable movement is one of the best things to happen in America's recent culinary annals--particularly the sustainable part. In our rush to celebrate the ethics of eating, however, we seem to forget that most diets in the era before railroads and refrigeration undermined the natural process included long stretches of salt-packed meats and preserved vegetables.
Yeah, some parts of the world had it better than others. And populations managed to survive...although they were much smaller then--both in number and stature. Think how difficult it would be to feed Dallas today on food produced within a 100-mile radius.
Like I said, the best part of this movement is that emphasis on sustainability, which has led to an awareness of overfishing and close management of some fisheries, for example. The movement also powered demand for free range and grass fed livestock--another plus.
But sometimes, instead of condemning cheap food, I wish we'd celebrate the availability of both. We can go to Whole Foods or Central Market or one of the farmer's markets. We can also--when low on cash or when the season has passed--find the cheap burger or fruits and vegetables to help us fend off scurvy.
Yeah, they're tasteless. But I remember the stuff from my grandmother's preserve jars. Maybe other grandmothers did a better job.
Anyway--Kim, please keep this in mind for a follow up article. Would be a fun read.
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