Welcome to Part 14 of my Living a Simple Life series! My heart was so blessed by the words so many of you sent via comments and e-mails, sharing your experiences with loss, and yet the “joy that comes in the morning.” Thank you.
These past couple weeks, we have rejoiced in the blessing of good, organic local food. We have made it a routine to stop by a Farmer’s Market each week after church to stock up on produce. Since we haven’t been able to receive a CSA share this year, we are challenging ourselves to purchase items that would likely be in a typical CSA box each week. (It seems to me that being ‘forced’ to try out new foods each week is part of the fun of having a CSA!)
To me, part of living simply means learning to eat seasonally and making the best use of each item (little waste). At first, it was tempting to just select the well-known favorites (ie, lettuce, carrots, and strawberries), but we knew that it was important to make full use of the seasonal abundance available to us. So, the challenge began…
One week, we picked up some beautiful leafy Swiss Chard- just a baby step away from our familiar kale (which was originally a baby step itself, years ago!). Another week, we purchased our first bunch of radishes- and the next week, purchased two more bunches!
It was actually very easy to find delicious-sounding recipes online with suggested uses for the “new-to-us” produce. One of Gen’s favorite new snack foods is a lovely green dip/spread I mixed up in the blender, containing chickpeas and kale, and spread on a homemade, whole wheat tortilla. Another one of our new summer favorites is a refreshing cold cucumber-radish soup, also easily made in the blender. (However, the sautèed radish tops weren’t a big hit- maybe next time they would be better in a soup.) I made a batch of pickled radishes last night, and we eagerly await pulling out the jewel-toned beauties for a mid-winter meal. Maybe next week will be currants and fennel?
Living Simply means using what I am given wherever I am. I should not have to rely on the wasteful transportation of food from large corporate farms across the nation (or world!) to feed my family- especially when the healthiest options are just a short distance from my home.
I enjoy supporting local farmers, especially since they are supplying my family with incredible nutrition. (Plus, I have found that seasonal organic produce is much more affordable at Farmer’s Markets or farms, instead of large grocery stores.) Organic foods contain a much higher level of nutrients than conventional foods, as well as being healthier for the farm/environment during its growth.
One of the exciting benefits for me, is that I have discovered the pleasure of eating fresh produce. After years of not being able to eat fresh produce due to increasingly debilitating allergies, I assumed I could not eat anything that wasn’t well cooked, canned or dried. However, once I began relying solely upon organics, my allergy symptoms ceased! I was no longer breaking out in hives from peeling a potato or eating a salad, or having my throat swell closed at one bite of an apple!
Eating seasonally inherently means that I feed my family a variety of foods, thus giving them an additional nutritional benefit, than just repeatedly feeding them the limited favorites. (The rule in our house is that everyone will taste every food at least once, before politely declining it, if necessary. Sometimes declining is not an option, and each of us is required to eat a meal occasionally that is less than our favorite.)
By learning to prepare a variety of foods, I am no longer at a loss when I can’t fix the typical American side of “green salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and carrot.” I remember hearing one middle-aged woman standing at a Farmer’s Market produce stand full of leafy greens, demanding her favorite salad ingredient from the farmer, saying “But how will I fix a salad?!” The farmer just murmured, “There are plenty of salad options. Make another salad.”
As Kate mentioned, I can eat food the way God intended it. I don’t have to rely upon something that has been artificially ripened and genetically-modified to sustain an inefficient, fuel-wasting trip over far distances. (Hmm… that sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?) And yet, that is what is on the average American’s dinner plate and restaurant menu everyday. I must choose to live differently.
By living simply, I can embrace the luxuries of the seasons God made, and the whole foods He created. I am not buying into corporate America’s media-spiels that are telling me I need to “have it my way” at an “open late” drive-through” (which, oddly, appears to be spelled “thru.”) While waiting patiently for the luxury of tomatoes, I can enjoy the pleasures of a spicy radish, an early spring onion, or homegrown sprouts instead. In the winter, I can bake up incredible flavors of apples, squash, and nuts. We are truly blessed to be graced with such variety and options- let us take the liberty of simply enjoying them! (To read more about our nutritional journey, see Part 5.)
So, what are you eating this week? I’d love to hear about your Farmer’s Market finds and recipes!
To be continued… Join me next week for Part 15! To read past “installments” of this series, click on the Simple Living tab at the top of the page.
graphic courtesy of antiqueclipart.com