Eating Uber-Local

This is not another depressing post about the problems with our food production current system. (If you're scratching your head in confusion, read about The Omnivore's Dilemma, or better yet, read the book itself.) Rather, today's post is about one positive and rewarding way that I'm dealing with this information: I'm eating what is best described as uber-local, at least for this dinner.The idea that we should eat more locally produced foods isn't new: I have written about it here, as has Pim, and plenty of others too. The Eat Local concept is good, though not always practical. To up the ante on difficulty, I'm taking it one step further by going as local as my own back yard, literally. Where once there were just rocks...

then just dirt...

now there is food.

Last night's menu included radishes freshly plucked from the ground (too bad it turns out Oren doesn't much care for radishes; I have rarely sought them out, but I love the ones I grow -- call it foolish pride) and the most perfect young mixed greens, lightly dressed with Bay Area Stonehouse Blood Orange Olive Oil and a Meyer lemon from my little tree that could.

 

I will confess I didn't grow the baby artichokes, but they did come from nearby Watsonville and were paired with a fresh, local ingredient-rich aioli. Most grocery stores and markets -- even upscale Sigona's -- don't label the provenance of their produce (one of the things I love about Whole Foods), so I have no idea where the sweet onions we roasted came from, but at least they (probably) did not contain any corn!

 

My muscles are still sore from moving the last section of rocks, digging the ground, and plucking rocks from the soil. Soon there will be six kinds of tomatoes growing in with the lettuces. The seven varieties of basil I planted are still only about an inch tall, but there is a summer full of caprese salads and fresh pesto ahead. The sugar snaps are already growing plump. The herbs, still going strong from last year and augmented with new varieties this year, are big enough to start eating small animals. The strawberries are blushing. There is something truly gratifying about eating something straight from the plant, especially when you grew it yourself. No matter what sort of space you have, even if it's just a pot on a window sill, I urge you try growing something. Herbs like rosemary, oregano, sage, parsley, and mint are forgiving, do well in small spaces, and are wonderful to have fresh on hand. If you've got more space, there are countless things you can do -- just ask. It won't cost you much. In this world where it seems so hard to do right, at least with this food I know exactly where it came from, what it touched. It tastes good.