It has been years since I planted a vegetable garden. Our city used to offer free 20'x20' plots for those who wanted to grow vegetables, but it was not uncommon to have your perfect tomatoes picked by someone else, and all watering had to be done by hand from an inconvenient single watering source. Some of our recent immigrants, especially those from eastern European and Asian countries, would tend the gardens nightly with their families and likely enjoyed good returns for their efforts. Our neighbours have converted their entire back yard into a vegetable garden and I do admire their tidy rows of healthy produce.
I grow a little lettuce and arugula, a few herbs and have a raspberry and rhubarb patch. The spring lettuce is always good, but the little bunnies have enjoyed most of it so far this year. My rhubarb patch was ready for its first harvest this week and today I made a rhubarb custard pie, rhubarb coffee cake and stewed rhubarb with raspberries. The recipes for the cake and pie are in my recipe blog, Come Home for Supper.
Earlier this year I wrote a post about the Buy Local, Buy Fresh initiative in our community, which encourages individuals and restaurants to buy and prepare local foods. Last week I purchased a book by Barbara Kingsolver (author of The Poisonwood Bible) called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. This non-fiction volume chronicles a year in which the author and her family made every attempt to eat local foods. They did all they could to avoid the "industrial food pipeline". I have not yet finished it, but so far it is an interesting read, with a sprinkling of recipes and plenty of personal stories.
My youngest daughter has never liked meat. As a baby, she refused the pureed meats and always loved legumes, vegetables, cheese and eggs. Friends would be surprised to see this toddler happily stuffing brussel sprouts in her mouth. Becka has asked me to help her prepare healthy ovo-lactovegetarian meals. She and I have been doing this for the past month or so, and feel very healthy and energetic. (My husband will always be a meat eater and loves his BBQ, but is not thrilled about grilled zucchini) Personally, I have decided to keep eating fish occasionally, especially the fresh lake trout and pickerel from recent spring fishing trips. The only substitute I need to work on is a replacement for the lard I use in my pie crusts. Lard makes the best pie crust and I refuse to use hydrogenated shortening. We do not eat very many pies in a year.
It is time for me to start planning a week (or two or three) of local food menus, both vegetarian and meat based. Rhubarb and asparagus mark the beginning of our seasonal crops and they are now available. We have several excellent farmer's markets within a short drive from our home. I don't regret buying a pricey Ataulfo mango this week to make a mango curry, but I would like to start a habit of buying more local fresh foods and becoming more aware of the environmental impact of my food choices.