What do we do when the garden is put to bed and the bountiful harvest is preserved? Besides savoring our “local” veggies all winter long we talk about food. I have been reading cookbooks and food-related articles for the past 37+ years — ever since my brother-in-law announced he was a vegetarian. We’ve belonged to food co-ops for over 33 years and at one point even provided our house as a ‘divide and distribute’ point. We now do most of our grocery shopping at Willy St. Coop in Madison, WI, one of the best co-ops in the country.
So when our local Cambridge Evening Book Club put The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan on their reading list I jumped at the chance to have a food discussion. I’ve long felt that people don’t know enough about where their food is coming from and what’s in it or not in it.
We had quite the lively discussion about food in general. It was a very thought provoking book about farming practices and food gathering and we found it very enjoyable to read. Non-fiction books can be full of interesting facts but not always very readable.
After reading the book, at least two or three of the omnivores in attendance began checking for local farms from which to buy their grass fed beef or free range chickens. One of the vegetarians has been trying to work with the local schools to get them to offer healthier lunch choices. The consensus of all was that it costs more to eat ‘healthy’ – no surprise here – and it takes more time to shop.
All of this discussion on food led to the list of the ‘dirty dozen’ – a compilation of the fruits and vegetables with the highest level of toxins or most pesticide residues. I can’t remember if this was mentioned in the book or not, but this book group lets our discussion topics go where they may. If you want to start incorporating the higher priced organic fruits and vegetables into your already stretched budget at least start with the ones from this list – or grow your own.
We topped off the evening with an apple walnut crisp made with organic apples from a friend. Oh, and one of the appetizers included dried tomato pesto using a recipe from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver …..but that’s another story.