All across the world of (North American) food blogs, you may have noticed a similar theme….
Spring. The season, that is.
It’s here for the most part, and it’s here to stay, at least for a few months. The weeks of grey, cloud filled drudgery, scrounging the produce aisle for something, anything, fresh and somewhat local (read: within 2000 miles) is finally over. And I couldn’t be happier. I see asparagus and other spring time delights popping up everywhere, and it makes me think that the food movement started by a certain Alice Waters, way back in the ’70′s, may finally be making some progress. People want to eat local food, they want to know where it came from, how it was produced. They care what goes into the production of such a vital ingredient in our lives, and that makes me happy.
It’s not hard to eat local (except in the middle of December, in most places in Canada), but it can take a certain degree of effort that not everyone is willing to put out.
If you are not yet on the path to eating more local foods, what is the reason? Here, I offer some tips to get you started:
- Read labels. This is an obvious one, but most produce doesn’t have labels. Check the label on the shelves where it tells you the price. Origin should be listed somewhere there.
- Visit your local farmer’s markets. Even in the biggest or smallest of cities, they are there and the food is glorious.
- Plant a garden. What’s more local than stepping outside and picking your dinner? Even condo dwellers can grow a garden. Container gardening is one of the simplest ways of growing vegetables.
- Find out what’s in season, and plan your meals around those ingredients. For example: right now (April), spring brings us such gastronomical delights as spinach, lettuces, asparagus, cauliflower, garlic, mushrooms, certain varieties of pears, California artichokes and avocados, broccoli, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, sunchoke, etc.
- Talk to your friends and family about eating local. The more people do it, the better the food production will be. The demand is needed and in some places, even exceeds supply.
- Look to local restaurants for inspiration. Feeling unmotivated? Some restaurants post their menus online, if they offer a seasonal menu, it might give you an idea of what to make at home.
- Don’t feel guilty when you buy out of season, just try to find a balance between local and imported food that is comfortable to you and your family. If little Johnny won’t eat anything but oranges, bananas and strawberries (been there), don’t worry too much.
And here is a recipe to get you started on your path to buying more local, seasonal foods. This asparagus soup is fresh, low in calories and fat and makes a great filling meal paired with a small salad. Though it doesn’t keep for long, it will be fine for a day or two in the fridge.
1 small leek, sliced (white part only)
1/2 large onion, diced
175g Yukon gold potato, very small dice
875g fresh organic asparagus, cut into small chunks
2 tsp each fresh thyme and rosemary
1 tbsp canola oil or butter
1 litre low sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup plain, low fat yogurt
fresh ground salt and pepper, to taste
1. In large sauté pan, heat oil or butter. Add leek, onion and potato and sauté on medium heat until softened.
2. Add asparagus and herbs and sauté another 1-2 minutes.
3. Add stock, bring to boil, reduce to simmer and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until everything is tender enough to be put through a blender.
4. Blend in small batches (or use an immersion blender), adding yogurt and salt and pepper to each batch.
5. Serve garnished with additional yogurt if desired, but serve immediately. This soup is best consumed within a few hours of making it, but it will keep for a couple of days in the fridge (just with a stronger flavour).