Kitchen Garden

Cook or Quit

Harvest for the Weekend Kitchen
Harvest for the Weekend Kitchen

I put on my rubber boots and went to the garden in the predawn sunlight. I left a trail where my boots scraped against the dew drops formed on the lawn.

Fresh deer droppings lay moist under the oak trees and two rabbits stopped and watched as I made my way through the clover. I picked cherry tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, daikon radish and everything in this photo.

In the kitchen I made salsa using fresh ingredients, some old relish — everything that made sense. It was tasty and spicy, quite delicious.

The future of any local food movement is in the hands and kitchens of people who do these kinds of things.

If you ask my mother’s generation, “what is local food,” they often mention sweet corn and tomatoes. Hard to argue with the taste and seasonality of those two vegetables, but there is more.

Cooking goes against the grain of a global society increasingly and intentionally seeking to remove creative, engaged prep work from the kitchen and replace it with heat and serve processed food. Here’s an example.

While on break at the home, farm and auto supply store food preparation became a conversation topic as it often does.

A colleague explained how he bought a bag of prepared frozen meatballs from COSTCO and warmed them in his favorite barbecue sauce. He then took a small loaf of white bread, halved and toasted it, and spooned the meatballs on the bottom half making a meatball sandwich. He said it was really good as we listened.

If taste and ease of preparation is all we seek, the industrial food supply chain can meet our needs. In that case, when it comes to local food, what’s here becomes local.

I’ve been spending time in the kitchen this week. At 5 a.m. I stop what I’m doing and make breakfast. Stirfry, roasted vegetables, and because they are in season, fresh steamed green beans with every meal. It feels a little weird, but I felt better all day because I ate mostly what I grew before 7 a.m.

The local food movement is just not going to happen based on a small number of farmers, chefs and advocates and there’s the ceiling. If it becomes a part of our daily lives, which include vegetables from the garden, eggs from chickens we know and preparing food to taste, then the local food movement has a chance.

What it reduces to is either cook or quit.