I’m reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life right now, and OMG, you guys. It is wonderful. My eyes have welled up with tears so many times over the way we treat the people who grow our food and the way I myself left my family farm to move to NYC.
Here’s my favourite discovery from today:
Our vegetables have come to lack two features of interest: nutrition and flavor. Storage and transport take predictable tolls on the volatile plant compounds that subtly add up to taste and food value. Breeding to increase shelf life also has tended to decrease palatability. Bizarre as it seems, we’ve accepted a tradeoff that amounts to: “Give me every vegetable in every season, even if it tastes like a cardboard picture of its former self.” You’d think we cared more about the idea of what we’re eating than about what we’re eating.
And it hit me–this is probably why I like vegetables so much better in a restaurant than at home. I always figured I was just a simple woman too easily won over by the charms of being cooked for and served to. The tray of plain steamed vegetables at Yakitori Torys (now sadly closed) literally made my mouth water, and the all-vegetarian meal we had at Kajitsu is still one of my most memorable.
I never cared at all that Tocqueville bases all of their dishes on what they can buy at the Union Square Greenmarket, but I’m sure now that a good part of the reason I want that $25 prix fixe of theirs every weekend is the fresh vegetables.
I guess the moral of the story is that we should be growing our own food, directly supporting the people who do by buying from a local farmer’s market, or at least only buying foods we know are in season in our areas. I’d love to hear about it if you’re doing any of these things!