There’s a resurgence going on in America. Organic. Local-food culture. Farm-to-table. Chefs are celebrities. Reality cooking and baking shows are on every cable channel. Food is the new rock ‘n’ roll.
I am a rock chick at heart. I worked in record stores when they were still called record stores. I worked for a music label. I once dated a guy because he looked like a cross between Tom Waits and Bob Dylan. Every time I see or hear the number eleven, I think of This Is Spinal Tap. But, I have a huge confession to make. I cannot really cook.
Don’t misunderstand, I can boil an egg. I can even scramble it, if I’m feeling motivated. But, cooking a Thanksgiving meal? No way in hell. I’m not putting my hand up a raw, dead bird. Does this make me uncool? Am I getting old?
Reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle intimidated me. Not only is she a brilliant author, but she farms her own land, bakes bread every day, stuffs her own sausage, and makes her own cheese. And while, I won’t pretend that I would ever want to know exactly what you have to kill to stuff a sausage, I would like to be a little earthier now that I’m living in the country.
Aqua, the 82-story high-rise building where I lived in Chicago is LEED certified. With sustainable features like extensions to maximize solar shading, rainwater collection systems and energy-efficient lighting, recycling programs and the largest green roof in the city, I felt like I was treading a little lighter on the earth by living there.
Now that I live in the country, I have to drive everywhere. I can’t order healthy meals for delivery. I can’t walk to Yolk for weekend brunch. I don’t even have a microwave. But, when Omega reopens in the spring, I’ll have locally-grown organic, vegetarian meals available for free every day.
What’s happening on our planet is important to me. I understand that our fossil fuels are finite. I want to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. (One of the biggest reasons I chose to work at Omega.) I buy organic, I try to remember to bring my own grocery bags when I go to the store, I recycle. But, after reading this book, I want to do more.
I want to grow something with my own two hands. And if I’m not going to garden, I want to support the people in my community who are. I want to go to farmer’s markets and those little stands on the side of the road. I want to know what is in season when it’s in season and I want to know where it came from if it’s not when I see it in the grocery store.
First, I have to teach myself how to cook. I started making fresh, organic salads for work every day the past two weeks. (I know, it’s really more washing and chopping than cooking.) I made myself a smoothie for breakfast this morning with frozen berries, organic bananas and almond milk. (I’m using a blender!) I found a great slow cooker recipe for chicken and black beans. (I wore latex gloves so I didn’t have to touch the raw meat. Are those recyclable?) Now, I need to find the perfect music compilation to keep me inspired. Any suggestions?
Could you live an entire year eating locally or the food from your garden? Barbara Kingsolver transplanted her family from the deserts of Arizona to the mountains of Virginia for their endeavor. Join From Left to Write on February 21 as we discuss Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. As a member of From Left to Write, I received a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.
I think we would be friends if we lived near each other. I was forced to cook but I can’t say that I have ever enjoyed cooking. You’re doing great with the steps you’ve mentioned. Keep up the good work!
Making salad is TOTALLY cooking!!!!!
Your blogs always make me smile! I bet they’d let you weed the Omega garden this Summer as you work your way toward the dining hall for breakfast! Seriously, having lived a country life in the 70s with no electricity, a dairy goat, chickens, a huge garden, I am amazed to see how we have come around to this “again” (with a gourmet, oh-so-uber-cool twist, intimidating indeed!). Though I left that life behind, I felt pretty darned accomplished for a NY suburban girl. (“Chop Wood, Carry Water” a 70s book) Some people never left their gardens and have been living WITH the land and passing the tradition on, thank goodness. They are today’s farmer’s market heroes and organic gardeners. Supporting your local farmer’s market is a great way to decrease your carbon footprint. And I bet Rhinebeck has a year round market, we have one in Saratoga Springs. http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/
A song? I can’t remember who wrote it, a folky tune, rock-and-roll girl, it goes: “inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow, all it takes is a rake and a how and a piece of fertile ground….”
I can’t see myself shoving my arm up a turkey carcass either! I think fixing your own food is a great way to be in tune with your food.
As someone who has recently become a little obsessed with leaving Chicago, your post makes me jealous! I’m a born and raised Chicagoan, but am starting to tire of the traffic, noise, and hectic pace. I don’t know that we’ll ever move to an area quite as isolated, but it sounds nice. I love the way you compared cooking to music. I completely agree.
Every little thing helps, and moving in the right direction is a bit addictive once you get going. We can’t all be eco-rockstars, and mill our own flour out of grain we raised from seeds using millstones that we hewed out of the boulders in our yard – but we can let those stars inspire us to do some eco-karaoke. I’m not sure what the perfect music compilation would be, but I reckon it should include, “It’s not easy being green.”
Take some cooking classes…..you do not need to be a gourmet chef in order to master the wonderful fresh local foods that are available.