Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Justify My Love.

When I talk to friends and family, I hear so many different responses regarding local food vs. the grocery store.  Here are a few examples:

  • “What’s wrong with Whole Foods?”
  • “I buy cage free eggs, organic meat and fresh produce from an expensive store, what’s wrong with that?  Isn’t it the same thing?”
  • “What am I supposed to eat, if all foods in the grocery store are ‘bad’?”
  • “Please don’t judge me because I have Cheeze-Its in my pantry!”
  • “Would you eat this celery stick?” – (asked at a party, vegetable tray within range)

 And so it goes.  There are two responses I have when confronted with these questions.  The first is a genuine appreciation for an opportunity to explain my preferable food choices.  The second is panic that I will confuse and bewilder the person with an array of facts, quotes, statistics, and horror stories.  Sometimes, it’s easier to point people to a book and hope they will read it, or write it in a blog, with hope they will understand it (not because you aren’t smart enough, but because I’m not always a clear and efficient writer). 

I want to do all of the above, with eager hope that you will get a copy of In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan, (accessible on my Amazon side bar, on the right, in blue: click click .) and read it, because this book will answer your questions in a professional, well–researched fashion about WHY Whole Foods is a rip-off (mostly), WHAT you should be eating to maintain optimal health and HOW accessible and affordable it is to do so.  He can explain it better than I, so I’ll leave you with a quote as proof: 

“If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid products that make health claims.  Why?  Because a health claim on a food product is a strong indication it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.”

 Well, there’s a start, anyway.  I hope that’s intriguing enough for you to pick up a copy and find out yourself why it’s not really food.  If not, feel free to ask more questions.

 At Athens Locally Grown, my food comes in a clear bag with a sticker that has my name on it and the name of the farm it came from.  There are no health claims on my bag of carrots.  My fresh produce lasts for weeks (when kept stored in the refrigerator in the bags) because it was picked within a day – or even on the day – I came to collect it.  My sister, in Denver, has found a website (Mile High Organics) that will deliver local, organic produce to her doorstep.  Now, I’m not a mother, and I don’t have to travel far to pick up my food, but I can imagine not having to pack up her little boy and drive him to the store, wait in lines, manage a cart, etc. is probably the equivalent to a world where every day is Christmas and it rains roses.  Just a guess.

 Yet I’ve found that the most exciting way to get the message across, besides buying it yourself, (and besides blogging) is to throw a big, fat dinner party with your closest friends and cook with your local produce.  Then, when everyone raves about it, talk freely over a glass of vino about where it came from and why it’s better.  I can’t throw my readers in cyber-world a dinner party though I dearly wish I could.  I hope the recipes provide you with a decent replacement.  

This food has inspired me beyond belief, to the point where I carve out free time to write about it, and I believe that it will excite you, too, because it’s the best.  It has made me stand up and put on an apron (which is amazing), and it has made John drive right past his favorite restaurant and head home instead, because he knows what’s better – and I can’t credit the cooking, really(!)… it’s the food.

So celebrate with it.

 These tortillas were the ground base for our meal.  I’m sorry I don’t have more pictures.  They are fun and use four ingredients: white or wheat flour, non-hydrogenated shortening (we use this brand), canola oil and salt. 

Next, a fresh salad.  Any lettuce will do, Buttercrunch is my favorite.  I use my Swissmar peelers (amazon again) and shred carrots, radishes, squash, cheese (any kind) to a light and thin consistency and toss it all in.  You can then drizzle with olive oil and vinaigrette for your own dressing.  YUM.

Into the tortillas goes ground beef.  Heat a little bit of olive oil in the pan add minced garlic and onion until golden, add beef, salt, pepper, seasoning of your choice, cover until brown.

 When you serve, encourage friends to add the salad to the tortilla and roll up burrito style.  Also, this sauce brings it all together with a big fat punch.  If you want the salad separate, consider a mango salsa to top the meat.  Also, note that you can use chicken, pork or even a vegetarian substitute. 




Chantal said...

I like what you wrote and I think the same. I saw Michael Pollan video on Youtube when he was invited at Google headquarters with the release of his last book (taken one year ago). He is realy good. We also have the opportunaty to have organic vegetable and fruits delivered at home once every 2 weeks. In my supermarket, we have organic eggs, I know, they are not fresh like local organic eggs, and we also have a section of organic food (grains, nuts, yogourt etc) as for the organic vegetable, little choice and the freshness is not realy there. I like you blog.

Anonymous said...

I just received through the mail a Kitchen Bible. I can't wait to study it and serve up some new recipes for my family. Your blog is awesome and now that our farmers market is selling local produce, I am going to have a summer full of serving the freshest food possible. Thanks for opening my eyes to all of the fun possibilities of cooking with fresh local produce! You're the best.

anna j said...

You inspire me, Annie--thanks! And I thought of you tonight as I noticed how bright the yellow of my egg yolks were . . . today being my steal-the-eggs-from-the-chickens day :-)

A.Kelley said...

Woo Hoo! You guys are all too kind. Thank you so much for your sweet, sweet comments and your support. I am so glad you are reaping the benefits of local food. :)

3rd Wave Inc said...

Buying quality organic products is the initial move to a healthy, natural, green lifestyle that can bring a good feeling not only to ourselves but as to our environment as well.

Patty said...


An added benefit is I think we are all healthier since we grow a lot of our own produce, buy meat from Nature's Harmony, and make a lot of our own food (like cookies and yogurt). We still buy a lot at Kroger, like flour.

I would point out that buying locally is good for Athens' economy, so you should try to get your cookbooks and vegetable peelers from local stores instead of Amazon when possible. The Rolling Pin in Beechwood has a lot of neat stuff.

Lauren Anne Mackay said...

Love your post and your pictures. That was explained very well and I am currently reading In Defense of Food!

A.Kelley said...

3rd Wave Inc. - we are on the same page. Welcome!

Patty - I totally agree with you, but I think a lot of my readers aren't in town and I trust these specific brand's quality. Also, I would really love to learn how to make yogurt - and do you know how to make creme fraiche? That's something I would really love to learn.

Lauren - thanks for reading!

Joanna Goddard said...

that's so cool -- my boyfriend and i were just talked about this book last night. thanks for the inspiration!

A.Kelley said...

Joanna - I'm blushing over here because I've been in love with your blog for a very long time. Thanks for reading & welcome!

xnapoleonx said...

I do agree that there will always be a big difference in quality, but I reckon people just don't have the time anymore to invest in good food.

Well, I don't to at least :)

A.Kelley said...

xnapoleonx - Keep reading, maybe I can convince you otherwise. :)

Melaney said...

Hello - Andree suggested I check out your blog; she thought we might "like each other".

I joined the "eat local" bandwagon 2 years ago, and currently belong to the Athens Full Moon Farm CSA.

I upped my game by trying to buy as many non-grocery items locally too.

But yesterday I needed some shallots and have no local source, so I went to Kroger. I couldn't believe the difference in how I felt. I hate not knowing where my shallots came from, when they were picked, etc.

It's made processed food so much more disgusting to me. But I'm so happy to discover my mind has truly been converted and I don't want that stuff any more.

Anyway, I'm enjoying your blog and thank Andree for recommending it!

A.Kelley said...


So glad you said hi and shared your story. You've been doing this longer than I have, and I would love to hear more of your stories (recipes, too). My husband and I just started this a few months back and we just love it, if that isn't already obvious...

One place we go when we are really desperate is the Daily Co-Op. Not all of their produce is local but they are trying, and they always have shallots. I like going in there for basics like olive oil, flour etc. because I think their prices are competitive with Earthfare. At least it's a local shop, if nothing else.

We should meet some time - I just love Andree :)

Blog Widget by LinkWithin