Thursday, July 9, 2009
Eating locally and seasonally: I've been thinking about this for quite some time, but I have not gone so far as to really delve into it daily and properly. I do love eating this way not only for the amazing flavor difference but also because yes, it helps the environment by reducing travel for food. However, I also love eating all the foods from the places I miss and call home which are warm and tropical and when it's winter in Chicago, eating a hot Thai dish filled with (un)seasonal vegetables, I don't blink an eye. Perhaps this is part of the reason we can find everything everywhere we go nowadays, with all the migrating and moving of people (and food) everywhere it's not so impossible to fathom finding Thai ingredients in supermarkets like it was in the early 1990's.
I'm not about to hop on a pedestal and deliver a manifesto here but the more I learn about and work with food and use it as medicine, the basic principle of eating local and in season is probably one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. You are what you eat can not be more true here. I'd much rather be a carrot in season with all it's essence intact than a carrot from 3,000 miles away that tastes half like water, half like the memory of a carrot, though dressed up in it's fancy orange outfit. So, I'm going to be making a concerted effort to do this a little more (not dress like a carrot that is), bit by bit, and modify my Thai or Colombian food cravings to work with what's available here - but I won't lie, it will be difficult to give up cilantro in the middle of winter regardless of whether it can exist then! So, I probably won't go that far, but at least you can freeze chilies, ginger, and lemongrass to name a few without compromising too much flavor. Luckily there are all sorts of preservation methods for foods you have in summer than you might crave in winter, so I'll likely do an entry on how to preserve certain things and their medicinal quality. Here is a wonderful site where you can look up what is in season and local to where you live: the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). And here is Epicurious's link to a seasonal map with recipes.
Currently in Chicago area for early July (I'll be keeping tabs on the right side from here on if you are curious):
* Bell Pepper