3R’s of Spring


Spring2010 006

  • Perennial Plate project/site
  • Yes, Jamie’s Food Revolution (Jamie Oliver that is)
  • Food Declaration.org
  • Learn to Cook, Just a Little

You know, I’ve had letters on my mind lately.  This is because my toddler, Riley, who is 2 1/2 now, has enthusiastically discovered the letter R.  Yes, it begins her name and she just loves that.  Every day she points out the many R’s, on the bus or on signs across town, in any book I’m reading to her, or on the cereal box.

I got to thinking that the first foods we see in Minnesota in the spring all begin with R and how perfect and timely that is for us.  So what are they, you ask?  Radish, rhubarb, ramps.  Look out for these soon, if you haven’t already tasted them for the first time this spring.  Mostly, they are coming from Wisconsin, but soon they will perk up in our own back yards.

More bits.  You know, again I’m a late-comer to the perennial plate, another impressive local food site.  Local chef and sustainable food advocate, Daniel Klein, has begun a well-done online, ongoing film documentary that captures the foods of Minnesota.  He butchers, tours, cooks, and eats within the seasons at local farms and with local producers around the area.  Quite clever and addicting to watch.

I just finished watching the end of the first season of Jamie’s Food Revolution on television.  (You know, this is the reality show that documents the infiltration of Jamie Oliver into one of our country’s unhealthiest cities, Huntington, West Virginia, and excrutiatingly follows his attempt at making change in the way the community eats.)

Not one for the tv usually, but I found myself entirely drawn into this one.  I’ve always had a great deal of respect and awe for Jamie and his food and philosophy.  What struck me about this latest project of his is his absolute sincerety and sheer exhaustion at making it happen.  As well, it’s a given our food system is broken and embarassing, but seeing it outright on this program, in the school cafeterias, in the homes of citizens, behind the scenes, was impressive and touching.  What a worthwhile cause this revolution is; it just cuts through misinformation, politics, and gets to the nitty-gritty.  Thumbs up.

If you’re looking to keep up with food and politics, besides the televised revolution, a good place to receive information, especially on what’s happening in Washington, on the subjects of food and farming, sign on to www.fooddeclaration.org.  Besides receiving petitions and updates on the latest  political happenings, you’ll get updates on what’s happening across the nation on real food and farming advocacy.

Finally, as of late, I’ve been sculpting a new component to my own food philosophy.  It’s come with teaching.  So many questions on what to eat, how to eat, and helping folks to sort through the clutter of information on healthy eating and living has lead me here.  It’s a simple idea: we need to start cooking.  What?

I’m coming to understand that if an individual can take the opportunity to learn to cook, even a few simple and basic recipes, they can quickly make large-scale changes to their health, their wallet, their understanding and connection to the land and therefore community, and general well-being.  In my classes I always end up with this thought.  Forget about diets, label-reading, fancy feasts, Food Network pomp and intimidation–just get cooking!  Quite a simple piece of advice, but oh, I’m learning myself that this is just the best food advice I can possible give right now.

A recipe for one of my R’s, from Madhur Jaffrey’s lovely book, World Vegetarian:

Ukrainian Radish Salad (serves 4)

1/2 pound radishes, thinly sliced into rounds; 1 scallion, cut crosswise into very fine rounds (both green and white portions); 3 tablespoons finely chopped dill; 1 tablespoon olive oil; 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1/4 teaspoon cayenne; 1 cup sour cream; 1/4 teaspoon bright red paprika

In a bowl, combine the radishes, scallion, dill, olive oil, salt, and cayenne.  Mix well.  Now add the sour cream and paprika.  Mix again.  Serve chilled.