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15 April 2009

Earthly Edible Delights

In keeping with my goal of eating local and organic to reclaim my love of cooking, I got my first organic produce delivery yesterday from Hood River Organic Farms CSA. I was literally jumping out of my skin waiting for the day to end so I could go pick it up. I had it dropped off at Peoples food coop since it's safer there than sitting at my house, inviting critters and humans alike to partake. As I carried the box back to my car, I could smell the deliciousness. Something smelled freshly baked. The box was sealed with a long piece of packaging tape so I resisted the urge to rip it open until I got home. I drove home carefully, keeping a watchful eye on my box like a proud mama.

When I got home I carried my box into the kitchen and cut the tape. As I pulled the top open the most beautiful sight emerged. Inside, was the most beautiful site I have ever seen. There sat my produce, glowing with the energy that food does when it's carefully hand raised and picked by those who value the land, the dirt and the sun. I started pulling out my earthly delights one by one, admiring each one closely. Sitting on top with no packaging, was the 'baked that morning' fresh loaf of bread. I gently took a piece and tasted it. It was so soft and buttery that I immediately put it out of site so that I would not devour it while I was standing there. Next were crisp green bunched lettuces which looked like arugula and fescu, followed by a large container of sprouted micro greens and edible flowers. As I dug further I found green onions, beets and the cutest little odd shaped fingerling potatoes with the farm-fresh dirt still clinging to their skins, and 8 light green apples grown our very own Columbia Gorge. Inside a huge paper bag were at least 30 mushrooms and one giangtus portabello (Warren left the kitchen when he saw those-he's not too fond of 'shrooms'). Next was a block of organic hard cheese made from the milk of happy, healthy cows and finally, the part I had been waiting for.... I gently reached in to pull out my prize - a half-dozen eggs. These were real eggs - eggs from real chickens. Chickens that had been truly grass-fed and ranged free near the fields of the farm. For their droppings had fertilized the land my vegetables grew from. Like a child opening a gift on easter morning, I raised the lid to look at my eggs. There they were, different colors of light pastels in pale yellows, browns and tans. These eggs in my hands contain 80% less cholesterol and an incredible amount of omega-3's, a mountains worth compared to the miniscule amount in regular factory farmed store bought eggs.

Oh man the things I want to create, Asparagus Morel Bread Pudding, Crisp green salads topped edible flowers and micro sprouted greens, soup with my fresh bread, apple pie.... I delighted in the sight before me. All of this, literally all of this food, had been planted, genuinely cared for, lovingly raised, organically grown, baked and harvested just 45 minutes from my house. Wow, what a display of miraculous beauty.

I looked in my fridge at the rest of the food I had purchased from the grocery store this weekend. I tried to guess where it all came from. I couldn't even begin so I started looking at the titles, labels and addresses. Ok, good, the yogurt was made in both springfield, oregon and in tillamook, oregon but I'm not sure if the cows live there too or what their conditions are. My organic cilantro came from California as did my strawberries. and oh geez, the sin of all sins, my bananas came from overseas. The bread from Ohio, chips from Texas and lunchmeat - hmmm, I better not even go there ....... The ridiculousness of it really is brought home for me now. Bread can be made anywhere, so why shouldn't I get bread made from Portland. And look for bread made from local wheat. I guess when you look at the full spectrum, it makes sense to buy locally. Less gas is used to ship the food, you get the food sooner and fresher, the food is full of not just love, but is packed with more vitamins and minerals and amino acids that are currently lacking in our conventional pesticide ridden fossil fuel driven food society. And just as important, I am helping to support a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). My purchase helps sustain them so they can keep producing healthy food for me and many others in our area.

Plus, for that little box of goodies that will feed us for over a week, I spent less than I would have buying it in a store. Even from our food coop. Luckily, I can get locally produced organic goods at our coop and at many other stores in town, but individually it's very expensive. This is a much better deal for me and the forever child in me gets to experience the excitement of opening a box full of surprises every other week. And much more importantly, the wheels are turnin up there - I'm going to cook my first locally made gourmet meal this week. This means I'm one step closer towards achieving my goal. Every step is the way to our dreams, and this dream is edible!

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