Our idea of what constitutes "food" in American culture has become so skewed that it is almost unrecognizable. Our supermarkets are packed with products whose ingredients include unpronounceable chemicals, dyes, bacteria, and growth hormones. They are irradiated without our consent and contain GMOs.It's time to bring back FOOD. Pure unadulterated organic RAW food.This blog is a documentation of my continuing journey on a plant-based lifestyle.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Waste Not, Want Not

   Shock of the century, I'M BLOGGING! It's been what, six months? Yikes! I'm always thinking about this blog though and how I wish I had more time to update. Then I think about my bloggie friends with kids who seem to update very regularly and I feel like a total slacker...even though I'm totally not.

 I do make a conscious effort to update via Instgram on both facebook and twitter and typically post recipes (ingredients at the very least) on both venues. So, if I am not actively blogging you can always find my stuff there.

On with it!

I happen to work for some very wonderful people, who, empathizing with my situation (my husband living in CA and me living in NYC) gave me off for the summer. So, I left sweaty, muggy, hot as hell-ation NYC for good ol'Cali-forn-i-a. (It's still hot as hell here too, but only during the day. And if it means I get red-headed 'tan' then I'll take it. A little buckets of sweat never hurt anyone..but, no really, I'm tan!)

My most favourite thing about California is well, the food, of course! And by food, I mean produce. The figs are plump, chewy, and taste like jelly doughnuts. The watermelons, so juicy - like pink sugar. And the tomatoes, the most indescribably savory delicious morsels I could ever hope to indulge in! Don't mind if I do!

I honestly look forward to each meal- no variety? Restrictive? Say what?!

My cornucopia of produce options, if you will, really got me thinking about the ethics of food; one man's trash is another man's treasure. I say this because in America, fruits and veg are not often looked upon with high esteem. We chuck produce that isn't perfect. We eat green bananas and throw away the spotty ones. Tomatoes all year round. Often NYC produce is shotty at best and quality is lacking.

My zucchini is bland. My cucumbers taste stale. Our farmers markets are horrid, with virtually no organic stands. (And I've asked, they spray, unlike here in California where even if they are not organic in name, their farming practices are.)

So what's a raw vegan got to do to get some real food around here?? (...or there, yeah.) If I want food that tastes the way it should, I have to trek all the way down to the East Village to the Fourth Street Co-op and I gladly do, when I can find the time. I'm all about supporting my local farmers, especially organic farmers. And you should too. Remember: no farmers, no food! Plus, they always have a bin of discounted goodies and I'm alllll about those. But most people aren't willing to go to the extent.

Otherwise, I wait and eat bland tomatoes booo until I can get my hands on produce that dear lord was picked maybe 24 hours previous to me buying it. What better gift is there than that??

My point, we're damn lucky to even have the option at all. 

I'll admit, I'm obvi. a produce snob at this point. As a person who exists entirely on a plant-based diet I want my food to taste the best! However, the best doesn't always mean the most beautiful. I say, give me your overly spotted bananas and squishy bursting tomatoes! Your blemished peaches and your wrinkly peppers! I'll take it all!

Yup, that's right.

I see nothing wrong with a few bruises here and there. Now, rotting, well, that's a different story and a gift you should give to the compost pile instead. But, so what if your peach has a dent. It will still taste just as sweet and delicious! I promise! Maybe even better!!

In December, I watched this special on Food Network about what happens to all the dented, blemished food that people consider "bad". It was so troubling to see just how much gets thrown out in this country when we have so many starving people in this country and even more in other countries, where some would fight to the death for a lick of what we dispose of.

A few weeks ago I read a story about North Korea and how dastardly the living conditions are over there. One man recounted a story about a couple of young kids in a work camp who where shoveling cow poo. Upon shoveling, they discovered a few kernels of corn that a cow had obviously passed. The man said that the boys didn't even think twice as they picked up the kernels, washed them off and ate them.

I'm sorry, I know that is repulsive, but it made me think twice about how much I really take for granted the bounty of options I have before me - and I would consider myself a pretty aware person when it comes to the ongoing food crisis both in and outside of America. I mean, I'm pretty granola!

As a vegan, I get to CHOOSE my lifestyle. I can shun meat, diary, and other animal products. I can turn my nose up to processed foods and the junk that people somehow rationalize as 'ok to consume'. But trust me, I am not naive - I am well aware of the fact that all of us who get to choose to be vegans are lucky that we even have the choice at all. So, if fruits and veg and nuts and seeds and the like are my chosen fuel then i'll eat them in whatever form they come - dented, bruised, blemished, whatever. (Once again, let me be clear, ROTTING is not safe and you should never eat rotting food. And I am by no means advocating you should consume rotting food because there are starving children who could possibly eat it...lol.)

Luckily, in California I am fortunate enough to live a mere 4-5 miles away from a glorious Organic farm, Tanaka Farms in Irvine. They have the best corn I have ever tasted in my life. It has so much flavor- very sweet and since they pick it every day there is never that starchy quality that often befits raw corn. Hands down, the best.  And if not Tanaka, than it's the Saturday morning farmers market at UCI. California overall is farmers market bombed! We're hella lucky here on the West coast, NYC - not so much.

Ultimately, after watching the Food Network special I vowed that I would always use up my produce in some fashion- wrinkly or wilted be damned - I shall not waste. I've learned not to buy more than I am positive I can eat. And I always use the most ripe fruits or veg first.

See, there are just so many things you can do with produce on the fritz. My soup-hating husband consumed bowls of the organic veggie soup (pictured above) that I made this past fall with all veg. that was on the way out. And last week, I made a melange of curry roasted veg with cauliflower mash (pictured below), once again - all ish that needed to be used up before we went on vacation.

 I think it would behoove us all if we looked a little more closely at what we so readily dispose of and deem 'unsuitable' simply because it isn't as appealing to the eye. We need to start thinking beyond our own trash cans and more so, our own lives.

The more time I spend in California vs. NYC the more I am aware of my impact on the world and how even though I am only one singular person, I can still do my own little things to help the environment and create less waste. Even if it is as silly as saving my cilantro sprigs to be juiced instead of throwing them in the trash... 

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