Not only as Americans, but as citizens of a first world country, we are showered with options when it comes to almost every aspect of life. This is certainly most evident when we sit down to eat. Three times a day we are faced with the same question (what to eat) and three times a day, sometimes more, our appetite is satiated by our whims and desires.
While the government-assisted family and the business men who indulge in three-martini lunches share almost nothing in common, we all share the same responsibility of choosing how, what and from where to feed ourselves.
McDonald's vs. Black Label burger.
Tuna salad vs. Tuna sashimi.
Iceberg vs. Endive.
Entenmann's vs. Ladurée.
You get it.
Every Sunday I walk to the farmer's market at the corner and scope out the produce of the week. Most of the farmers and vendors at Greenmarket are local and as soon as you walk from table to table, you understand exactly what that means. That means root vegetables and lettuces in February (and any other month that ends with an 'r'.) No sexy strawberries or tomatoes. No juicy figs or zucchini. Just plain 'ol potatoes.
Eating local means we are at the mercy of what our land offers up that month. That's not hipster talk, that's the absolute truth. The influx of options at Whole Foods makes it too easy to forget that most of the food we purchase has traveled 1,500 miles before it hits the shelves. Which of course affects fuel, the environment, labor, freshness, preservatives in the food, etc. So many choices can also numb us to the fact that there are many people on the globe that eat what they can grow or find. That's it.
Such a simple idea can sound so revolutionary. That's exactly why Alessandro Porcelli, formerly of renowned restaurant Noma in Denmark, organized a global event called Cook It Raw. Noma restaurant is known for serving only what the chef and his team can forage in Denmark. Denmark. And we're not talking about tropical fruit and exotic seafood. Think mushrooms, root vegetables and gamey animals.
Porcelli assembled 14 of the world's accomplished chefs and hosted them first in Denmark and then in Italy, to forgage, prepare and be inspired by all that nature offers. Even surrounded by seemingly uninteresting landscapes, beautiful food is created.
I'm not suggesting that we all explore our backyards for dinner tonight. (Which would leave me foraging my fire escape.) But maybe we can get to know our farmers a little. Maybe we can trying eating food that is indigenous to our area and find creative ways to prepare it. Maybe we can even wait until blueberries are in season before topping our oatmeal with them.
We choose, we spend, we eat, and we silently vote for what matters to us.
What matters to you?