Lately it seems like everybody's curious about local, organic, and plant-based foods. In the fourteen years I've been vegetarian or vegan, I've never received so many questions about the practicalities of my diet, or requests for advice on phasing out meat. People are finally catching on, beginning to understand that the foods they choose affect their bodies and communities.
Over the weekend, the New York Times featured several stories about Americans' increased interest in their food's origins:
- Is a Food Revolution Now in Season? offers a look at the organization and objectives of the organic and slow food movements, as well as at the recent interest in sustainable food at the Department of Agriculture.
- In Eating Food That's Better for You, Organic or Not, Michael Bittman sums up the reason for all the hype: 'There’s plenty of evidence that both a person’s health — as well as the environment’s — will improve with a simple shift in eating habits away from animal products and highly processed foods to plant products and what might be called “real food.”' Amen!
- Obamas to Plant Vegetable Garden at White House describes Michele Obama's attempts to make organic gardening fashionable. I love that she is championing local produce, but why is she gardening in a black sweater dress? The photo-op would have been more impressive and more plausible if she were down on her hands and knees in the dirt, wearing old jeans and a flannel shirt. Since everything the Obamas touch becomes cool, here's hoping American soccer (and hockey) moms trade in twinkies and bologna for locally-grown organic fruits and vegetables.
As part of the series, the co-op will screen the film Tableland, "a culinary expedition in search of the people, places and tastes of North American small-scale, sustainable food production." Russell Libby, Executive Director of the Maine Organic Farmer's and Gardener's Association will introduce the film. I'll be there, and I'm hoping for some lively conversation with other local food enthusiasts. The screening at the Belfast Free Library kicks off at 6:30 tomorrow evening, Tuesday, March 24. Any Mainers care to join me?
While awaiting the return of fresh produce and the summer Orono Farmers' Market (only six weeks away!), we've been enjoying some Maine-made pantry items. Raye's Mustard comes from Eastport, home of the only authentic stone mill left in the country. It's so refreshing to see a thriving business out of Washington County! Our favorite variety for pretzel dipping is the Bar Harbor Real Ale mustard, made with locally brewed beer, but the Sweet & Spicy is perfect on seitan sandwiches.
I'm also loving Daily Bread, made in Levant and sold in Bangor at the Natural Living Center and Giacomo's Groceria. Their anadama is perfect for sandwiches: soft but strong, wheaty and slightly sweet with a touch of molasses. No strange preservatives or softening agents, just a hearty mix of 7 organic grains.
It's ideal for hummus and vegetable sandwiches, served with Scarborough's own Maine Root Sarsaparilla for a treat. With a lighter flavor and a little more wintergreen than root beer, this soda is sweetened with organic evaporated cane juice. Sure beats aspartame!