I had kind of a unique childhood, in that a lot of my early years were spent around farms, witnessing first-hand how grass and grain turns into milk and beef. Even when we lived in the city, we lived in one of the first planned residential areas of the city, designed specifically so that homeowners could have large enough gardens to sustain themselves during the winter. The first thing my mother did after we moved in was to resurrect the tradition, creating four 100' x 50' vegetable gardens. My memories of September and October are filled with the clouds of steam coming from our kitchen and of pruned fingers from making quart upon quart of zucchini puree for the freezer. Needless to say, I'm not quite so awash with nostalgia that I want to exchange our lawn for neat rows of pumpkin vines and cabbages, but I do wake up every Saturday morning and trek out to the local farmer's market and do my shopping from people who have done just that. And really, I much prefer that my pot of mushrooms came from across town rather than across the country. They taste better anyway.
Do you, hit up your local farmers' market too? Here are seven slimming recipes that are tailor-made for your healthy harvest.
I fully understand that I'm very fortunate in that I can get in my car and drive for less than ten minutes to gaze across fields of perfect heads of cabbages as far as the eye can see. I live within walking distance of five decent grocery stores and at least two with amazing produce departments. There are half a million people in Chicago who live in what has been determined a food desert: "a geographic area with no, or distant, grocery stores often served by plenty of fast food restaurants."
The MacArthur Foundation recently awarded Will Allen with a Genius Grant for his work in Growing Power, an urban farming initiative. Mr. Allen began his fine work in Milwaukee, about 120 miles away from where I live. This is a city that proudly just opened its first Whole Foods a few years ago, about four blocks from Lake Michigan in a very hip neighborhood, but in order to get there, you have to drive five miles through a troubled neighborhood with no grocery stores at all. Not only is Mr. Allen's Growing Power program teaching people how to work the soil and create sustainable food sources, but they also deliver their produce around the city to people who are living in food deserts. Mr. Allen works with the entire cycle of gardening, creating a community that is centered around locally grown food. He engages children in the cycle of nutrition and also concentrates extensively on creating compost to replenish soil out of waste that would have gone to the landfills. He's not just growing peas and corn, he's enriching lives. It's so easy to wave off the societal problems with simplistic answers, but the reality of it is that it's people like Mr. Allen who are actually getting their hands dirty, building solutions. After a week of truly dismal news, it's people like Will Allen who give me hope for a sustainable future.
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