Last year I bought a Community-Supported Agriculture subscription. Every Thursday morning from April through December I picked up a big box of produce. The price was right--under $25 a week--but the radish and cabbage crop seemed excessive. This year I decided to pick out my own produce from, whenever possible, local sources.
I may have paid a bit more at the farmer's market, and I tended to avoid unfamiliar veggies (what does one do with patty-pan squash?). On the other hand, we have really been enjoying our meals. This week's recipes will include fresh corn, zucchini, eggplant, green beans, red tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, red bell pepper, sweet onion, red onion, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. For dessert we will have nectarines, blackberries, and blueberries. Cost: $32.40.
I'm by no means a purist about local or organic food--sometimes the best fruits and vegetables are available at Jewel, and last weekend's treasure was an 89-cent mango from Supermercado La Chiquita. The cover of Michael Pollan's excellent In Defense of Food lays out one part of my food philosophy: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
If Pollan brilliantly describes what we should eat (have you read his Omnivore's Dilemma yet?), Julia Child tells us how: "The pleasures of the table — that lovely old-fashioned phrase — depict food as an art form, as a delightful part of civilized life. In spite of food fads, fitness programs, and health concerns, we must never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal" (The Way to Cook).
It took a Frenchman, though, to remind us of why eating is so important--if indeed we buy fresh, colorful food, prepare it with attention to taste and beauty, and share it with those we love:
"The pleasures of the table belong to all times and all ages, to every country and every day; they go hand in hand with all our other pleasures, outlast them, and remain to console us for their loss."
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste