I’m working through some self-inflicted crap about the Garden State.
Now, I – like many others – have conflicted opinions about terrible Jersey reality TV. Some love it, some hate it.. Some are themselves the very stereotype and punchline, where others see that type of programming as utter junkfood, and once in a while it’s okay to indulge. I’m that kind of person. I used to hate it but now I realized that I can be as pissed off about those people marring my fabulous Seaside as much as I want, but it’s not going to change the fact that they exist… so why not laugh at them? Here’s the choice: anger or laughter.. and I have always been a jokester.
But, believe it or not, this post is not about Jersey TV. Forgive me for burying the lead, but it’s about the delicious, not scandalous, things this great Garden State grows: food. Namely food available at farmers markets, farm stands and through community supported agriculture (CSAs).
I had a great conversation with some friends last night about food. I love food. I love cooking. Think about it – it’s the only art that triggers all five senses. I definitely see how my cooking habits have changed over the years. I think it’s a cooks’ responsibility to make healthy food for the people they love. And “healthy” doesn’t just mean low-fat, low-calorie nutrition any more.
There has been a profound increase among health-conscious people in the interest of organic and local food.
I eat more organic food now than ever. This is something that has changed over the past two years. My father died of pancreatic cancer in 2010 (the same piece of shit disease that killed Patrick Swayze and has been diagnosed in Supreme Court Justice Ruther Bader Ginsberg and the iGod himself, Steve Jobs – you’ll hear more on this from me soon). I credit this consciousness with meeting Lisa two years ago. Sadly, she has lost both of her parents to cancer, and in her process has embraced organic food.
I can’t help but feel like there is a connection between our “modern” diet and the up-tick in cancer occurences. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the link between eating food that’s been sprayed with all kinds of chemicals – chemicals which our bodies have not yet evolved a solution to deal with..
These chemicals also leech into the soil and cause environmental problems. Then you can start thinking about GMO – genetically modified organisms – or food which has been fucked with by science to produce superstrains.. Couple these things and who knows what kind of bizarre Franken-food you’re eating, where it came from, and what the long-term costs are.. Incalculable costs to the environment and our health.
Put together the pieces of this puzzle. We live in a society rife with calorie pollution, the further division of social classes and more and more chemicals than we can hope to realize or our bodies can hope to process.
And cost is a big consideration in making choices at the grocery store. Previously, I’ve thought that I wasn’t valuable enough for good, healthy food (dollar menu, anyone?). Maybe it’s a social class thing? Those organic strawberries are way more expensive, I cannot justify the expense to my wallet and therefore don’t deserve them. Great! Except conventional strawberries are notoriously the most pesticide-laden.
It’s not elitist to want to eat healthy food.
Now, my cubicle corporate-desk job can support me, but I do have to make choices when I grocery shop. Sometimes ya just gotta grab the conventional version of this or that due to budgetary constraints. (Sidenote: I’ve recently decided that a great formula for our house is to plan on spending at least half of our grocery budget on produce. Works for us.) I suspect you may have some budgetary constraints also.
Below are lists procured from Organic.org regarding the best/worst conventional foods. It’s some helpful info on which items you should take the organic options and which ones you can compromise and opt for the conventional variety:
|12 Most Contaminated
12 Least Contaminated
You are what you eat (then as of ten minutes ago, I am “free-bagel-Friday”) and you should eat food from where you are.
There is something really special about eating locally sourced food. People who focus on this diet are called Locavores. You’ve probably heard the word in the past year or two – it’s chic.
Sure, we can get all hippy-ish (negative connotations aren’t really helpful, btw) about the carbon footprint of your food, and that is a valid reason to eat local – but that’s hardly what I mean here.
There is something really special about eating food that was produced on the slab of Earth you live-upon. There are spiritual connotations to it, if you’re into that kind of thing (I’m getting there, don’t like it? don’t care!). Some people think that you should only really eat food from your environment because the nutrients are more tuned to your specific needs. I’m not a nutritionist, but I would like to look into this further. When I do, I’ll let you know about it.
But there’s also stimulating the local economy. CSA’s are sprouting up (haha, pun totally intended) and one of the biggest ones’ in the world – Honey Brook Organic Farm – is right around the corner from us. It’s really special. Their season runs from June to November, and you can buy an individual share or a family size share which provides you with a box of their fresh, local harvest every week. You get what’s in season and this varies from week to week. We wanted to join this year but just got distracted. Next year, this puppy is allll mine.
Here in the Jerz, we also have a plethora of farmer’s markets and farm stands. This is where my self-inflicted crisis of conscious comes into play. I haven’t visited one this season.
Did you hear me? Not. One. Single. Farm. Stand.
(Okay, well I guess I bought flowers from one when we were biking Cape May.)
I didn’t even realize it until I was buying tasteless tomatoes from the grocery store and realized they were a product of CANADA. Yeah, I should be ashamed of myself. What self-respecting New Jersian (?) eats tomatoes from Canada in the middle of the summer? It’s horrible. It’s horrible and I should be slapped.
When Lisa brought home a brown paper bag of tomatoes from a neighbor’s garden, they were absolutely delicious. More taste in one slice than in all the pale, pasty things I picked up from the store.
In keeping with naming “wants” – I want to take more responsibility over my produce purchases. I want to eat healthier, locally harvested produce. I want to support my local economy and not just the corporate grocery store. I want to really taste my food, enjoy the hell out of it – which includes feeling good about the way I procured it.
I want some more Jersey tomatoes, dammit. I’ve wasted too much time already.
What fresh, local produce do you love to eat? What’s your favorite way to prepare it? Tell me! I’m collecting ideas ;0)
For a great article on organic food from the Mayo Clinic, click here .