Over the past couple of years, I have grown quite passionate about food issues. The issue of supporting local businesses and farmers is near and dear to my heart in particular. I think it can be attributed to being introduced to more and more food blogs, becoming involved in my local farmer's market, and reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. And, starting my own small business probably had a little something to do with it also.
There may be some eyes rolling out there at the thought of buying local. It seems that some view this as a fad, often giving the term "local" a bad connotation. If buying local is bad, then I don't want to be right. Ok, I admit, that was super cheesey and I'm slightly embarrassed by it. Moving on...
By buying local goods, you are supporting your local economy. That $3 you paid for a bunch of spinach goes right back to the farmer instead of Kroger's or Trader Joe's. That spinach is also cared for and nurtured by someone that knows it like the back of their hand. It's most likely not grown from genetically modified seed or sprayed with pesticides. But, the best part is, it was grown in local soil and is super fresh because it didn't have to travel very long to get to you. The short travel distance also allows produce to be picked perfectly ripe and ready to go straight into your hands (or belly). Buying locally allows you to become more familiar with the growing seasons, a bit of knowledge that used to be quite commonplace 100 years ago. You'll start to understand why April strawberries are fresh and sweet while their inferior grocery store counterparts in December are tart and flavorless.
I want to be realistic about eating locally because I know a big issue with people is the cost. Why would I pay $3 for a carton of strawberries at the farmer's market when I can get it cheaper at the store? That is a valid concern, and one I hope can be solved over time. For now, try to treat yourself to something local and savor it. I promise it will be the best peach, tomato, or jar of pickles that you have ever tasted.
In going along with what seems to be my wordy rant on buying local, I plan to start incorporating more about seasonal produce here on the blog. I'll share tasty ways in which you can enjoy the produce that is showing up in your local farmer's markets. Growing seasons aren't the same around the world, so I'll be tagging these posts as "farm to table" so you can choose appropriate recipes depending on your season. In case you have started to worry about the role on sweets on this blog, don't worry! I'll still be making them but I'm going to try to incorporate more seasonal goods. And, if you have made it this far in what feels like a novel of a post, here's a recipe for a springy frittata. In my version, the spring onions, dried basil, and eggs were all sourced locally.
notes: if you can't find spring onions, 1 regular sized onion of your choice will work. For the vegans out there, the asparagus and spring onions would go really well together in a tofu scramble. I used my ceramic coated pan and the frittata slid out beautifully without sticking. A well seasoned cast-iron skillet would also work.
2 small/medium spring onions, tops trimmed and sliced
1 tbsp coconut oil or Earth Balance coconut spread
1/2 tsp crushed dried basil, divided
8 eggs (free range if possible)
1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends trimmed
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Heat the coconut oil in a large oven-safe pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions, a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, and 1/4 tsp of the dried basil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the edges of the onions begin to turn golden and caramelize (about 8-10 minutes).
While the onions are cooking, steam the asparagus until tender and bright green. This took me about 5 to 7 minutes. Set the asparagus aside when done. This can be done ahead of time if needed.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs with a good pinch of salt and the rest of the dried basil until the eggs are lighter in color and have gained a bit of volume.
When the onions are nice and caramelized, spread them out in an even layer in the bottom of your pan. Making sure the heat is on medium, pour in the egg mixture. Once the edges of the frittata are set, arrange the asparagus on top of the eggs (you can do this in any way you like). Carefully place the frittata in the oven. Bake it in the oven until the top is puffed and set, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool the frittata slightly before serving or moving to a plate or platter. It should slide out of the pan easily. Serves 6 to 8.