Eating from our own community inspires change. Are you on board?

Early May brings us the first tastes of our garden handiwork. This year was not exception.

Last night I found myself with several radish, some turnips we got at the store a while back, salad greens and a desire to make something wholesome for Nathan’s overlooked birthday. Well, it wasn’t really overlooked… Just had to be rescheduled since our schedule is basically jam-packed right now.

After pawing through the available locally raised meat in the freezer I choose two packages of chicken breasts for grilling. Meat is the easy part, it is being creative with the side dishes and garden vegetables that take real brain power. Especially when you are faced with a radish or turnip.

I raked my brain for the distinction between a radish and a turnip (what? I blame pregnancy brain). Last season a blogger friend turned us on to a dish of mashed root crop called “Neeps and Tatties” (a similar recipe variation can be found here) that will now be a regular sidedish offering in our home.

The problem was… did it use radish or turnips…

After some intense google searching and a quick note to said blogger friend I arrived at the conclusion that it used turnips and potatos.

Virgin Neeps & Tatties (Talina’s way)

  • 2 large turnips, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 3 large potatoes, cut in chunks skin on
  • Generous helping of butter (2-4 tbs)
  • Garlic, salt and pepper to taste

You just boil the turnips until soft and mashable, in a separate pot boil the potatoes. I boil the turnips for longer than the potatoes by and hour or so (on low). When both items are soft to the touch drain them and transfer to a food processor, bowl or blender. Mash to desired consistency adding seasonings and butter as you go. I usually transfer my mash back to a pot to keep warm on the stove before serving.

With the turnips taken care of I turn my focus to the pinkish/ red radish that also need to be consumed. I don’t like radish very much, like many people. I seem to recall giving Nathan a hard time for once again planting these foods that would be such a challenge to consume… but I was seriously doubting why that was (remember the pregnancy brain?).

I resolved to wash and taste a slice of one to decide if they would go in the salad or if they needed to be cooked somehow, I needed my memory jogged about this dislike of radish. Let the torturous experimentation begin. You know kind of like sticking your tongue on a battery just to check.

Bleah! The spicy bite of a radish after the hard, crunchy texture just wasn’t my idea of a good time. In my mind crunchy should be followed by a crisp, fresh and even sweet aftertaste. Not a spicy one.

It was decided, I would cook the radish as a side dish. Rumor has it cooked radish lose the bite they are so well known for. I’d put this to the test.

Grilled Radish and Garlic

  • about 12-15 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cube ice
  • salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the grill for high heat. Place all ingredients on a double layer of aluminum foil large enough to wrap contents. Season with salt and pepper. Tightly seal foil around contents. Place foil packet on the grill, and cook 20 minutes or until radishes are tender.
I am pleased to say, the familiar spiciness does go away when a radish is cooked. There is no way I’ll be gnawing bunches of raw radish in my salads over the next few months. Nathan and Everly can, if the want but I’ll just pass on that.
To finish the meal we clipped about three small bunches of lettuce from the garden, topped them with some shredded carrot and some dressing and had ourselves a very good, super satisfying and almost 100% locally raised meal.
My goal this year is a bit more specific than just eating better. I want to really commit to the locally raised idea and get rid of as many trucked in items as we can. With gas prices on the rise this is one significant way we can decrease our dependency…

Stop being a slave to mass produced foods that come from all over the country!

Why does it matter? Well, here is my thought process:

Those out of season bananas, they come from outside the country. The oranges, the strawberries, potatoes, corn… Your store bought meat that was inhumanely raised on feed lots or worse… Chances are they all traveled more than 100 miles to get to your dinner table.

Just think of where they were raised, then they needed to be taken somewhere for packaging or processing, then they are shipped off to your grocery store where you buy and then drive them home. How much oil/ fuel was used just in the process of transporting those food times?

Don’t you think the fuel to transport groceries comes from the same “pool” we consumers tap to gas up our cars? And in buying foods that come from so far aren’t we encouraging more and more usage of fuel that in turn drives up the fuel prices?

If we stopped buying this stuff from afar they would eventually stop shipping and trucking it in, they would lose money without us fronting the expense. Then our local farmers would have their communities to feed and the bigger corporations wouldn’t be squeezing them out and so on…

Each choice we consumers make is like a vote for those companies and their business practices. Money speaks and I am afraid we are sending the wrong messages… and we are suffering the consequences. Those companies aren’t suffering, we are!

If you do some research and really commit you can either produce or support local farmers that are producing what you need without relying on fossil fuels to get food to your table.

Furthermore, eating locally tastes better and it helps your community by keeping those grocery dollars reinvested in the area and not in the large, faraway corporations that could care less about your community and your neighbors.

It only takes one step at a time to influence a huge change. Just commit to swapping one non-locally produced item a week or month for one that is local. Think of the local farmer’s family you’ll be helping to support, the amount of gas your food wont be guzzling to get to your table, the amazing taste of fresh food…

What one item can you obtain locally that you aren’t already?

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