JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Friday, June 27, 2008

One Local Summer: a little theory

First a new word to describe local eaters, now a university study. It's not - as far as I can see from a summary I've skimmed - about pioneer locavores, it's more about projected total population change. Early-adopters are, in the nature of things, likely to have been drawn in because they've already changed their diet away from industrially-processed offerings. This study is more about outcomes if and when large populations start to change their foodprint, as the only way individuals can make a real personal difference to global warming.

The argument is that what you eat is more important than where the food came from. It would be better, so the argument runs, to eat less beef, even if it was only a switch to chicken (rather than to, say, lentils or vegetables). There's a frighteningly well-informed discussion in the comments, well worth taking a look, despite some of the usual angry partisan stuff from people who think their way is the only way.

Here's a short extract from the Ethicurean post to give you the general idea:

“All Local” vs. Dietary Shifts

As a thought experiment, the authors examine how an “all local” diet — i.e., a diet that has zero emissions between producer and eater — compares to shifts in diet in terms of GHG emissions. Since that is nearly impossible to achieve, they found that one could achieve equivalent reductions through the following changes:

* Reduce red meat expenditures by 24% and spend the savings on chicken
* Reduce red meat expenditures by 21% and spend the savings on a nondairy vegetarian diet
* Reduce red meat and dairy expenditures by 13% and spend the savings on a nondairy vegetarian diet

The authors also use a automobile comparison to illustrate how changes in diet compare to changes in driving. Using a 25-mile per gallon car as their baseline, they provided the following estimates of mileage reduction through diet shifts:

* An “all local” diet is equivalent to driving 1,000 fewer miles per year
* Shifting one day per week’s calories from red meat to chicken/fish/eggs is equivalent to driving 760 fewer miles per year
* Shifting one day per week’s calories from red meat to a vegetable-based diet is equivalent to driving 1,160 fewer miles per year
* Giving up red meat and dairy in favor of chicken/fish/eggs is equivalent to driving 5,340 fewer miles per year
* Switching to a completely vegan diet is equivalent to driving 8,100 fewer miles per year

For me, the difficulty is that greenhouse gases (or GHG, as I see we must now call them) are only one part in a complex range of issues that fuel my interest in locavorism. For me, one of the best things is the human scale: I know the butcher, the farmer, the cheese-maker. No hope of personal contact at the supermarket.

I'm one of about 140 people taking part in One Local Summer, the challange to prepare one meal each week for three months this summer, using only locally-grown ingredients - the exceptions are oil, salt and pepper, and spices. It's thought-provoking and delicious in equal measure - and it's the best way to grapple with these issues, really grasp the nettle. There's a huge range of experience involved in this project, some of us are beginners, some can produce an all-local meal without having to think particularly hard. I'm hoping to be able to think more clearly about this by the end of the summer.

My challenge to YOU

DO think about joining us in this project, even for one week - registration has closed for a whole summer of one local meal a week, but I'm inviting all bloggers to the challenge of producing one whole local meal this summer, and I'll include you in the weekly round-up of the main challenge. I've found - and I know I'm not alone - that the first meal sparked off a lot of thought about the food we eat here, where it comes from, how it gets here, who produces it and how much they are paid for that work. There's a bonus for you - so far, the food has all been delicious!

Related posts

One Local Summer, week three
One Local Summer, week two
One local summer, week one round-up
OLS, Saturday lunch in the garden
OLS, first thoughts
Introducing OLS

Related links

The Ethicurean, Food miles vs food choices

Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States, by Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews

my thanks to Kathryn at Limes and Lycopene for my original link to this research

Links to One Local Summer:

Farm to Philly
Leafy Cooking
Garlic Breath
Rural Aspirations
Karen's Home on the Blog

Useful links for locavores in the South of England

Rapeseed oil from Gloucestershire
Wessex Mill

Thursday, June 26, 2008

One Local Summer week three

It's taken a while to round up all the international section this week ... but it was worth the wait.

In Brussels, Labelga has taken up the challenge, but I didn't get her urls, so she's checking in here for the first time. In week one, she visited her very local market and found that she should have heeded Alice Waters' advice to scout all the stalls before buying anything. Even so, she cooked a three-course meal.

Week two in the market and Labelga found a Belgian-grown cauliflower and some greeny-blue Araucana eggs, so cauliflower gribiche with poached egg and spring onions was on her menu.

Week three and she couldn't get to the market. Luckily, her local organic shop had a few local items in amongst the produce from Egypt Spain and France. Tartare of tomato followed by braised pointy cabbage using a Surinam / Dutch traditional recipe. Very useful to me, as my vegetable box is full of pointy cabbage at this time of year.

And I've found, too, that it's harder to find what you want when you have to go beyond your one trusted easy supplier. Actually, it can be hard to find what you want period when you're only buying local.

Karen bought a ready-made meat pie with beef raised at the Well Fed Food farm shop - Black Angus cattle, since you ask. Now before you go asking why she didn't make it herself if she wanted it local - the enterprising farmer has these pies made locally for the convenience of his customers.

Amber says her week three looks a lot like week one - fish. But, as she says, she's near the ocean. And she's found a local food market - transformed from a tourist market, sounds like progress to me! She's raised a problem familiar to every locavore - although sugar beet is grown in Alberta, she hasn't been able to find a local source, it all seems to go to agribusiness. So, halibut, roasties and salad were on Amber's menu.

Mariah at Rural Aspirations feels she's made good progress this week. So much so that she found she'd made an all-local meal without having to plan it out. Her week three menu was: portobello mushrooms, red peppers with Raclette cheese and homemade bread using locally milled organic whole wheat and unbleached white flour.

Riana's in the south of France, so she's ahead of us here in the UK - great, because she's got lots and lots of ideas for the courgette / zucchini mountain that's coming. I'm still at the stage where I'm just loving the courgettes, but it won't be long before we're wondering what on earth to do with them next. Her post is seriously useful to locavore gardeners everywhere.

Sally in Bristol had one of those weeks, and her local meal used up some leftover week two ingredients. But, driving around in the course of her work, she spotted a number of local farm shops which she's planning to visit this week. Her post at Diario makes the point forcefully: if you want to eat locally produced food, you have to make a special effort, and it's not always easy or compatible with the other things going on. It shouldn't be like this.

Donna's email says: My local meal was a simple omlet, local eggs, asparagus, and cheddar cheese. Salt not local. What could be better?

This week I wanted to crack the meat problem. I was passing a much-recommended farm shop where I know they sell meat. It was virtually all labelled as produce of England, not really good enough. I bought steaks for the children which were labelled produce of Berkshire, our next county, but felt that even that labelling wasn't enough. What farm? Where exactly? The children ate the steak while we were out, so my local meal was breakfast .... my favourite breakfast, actually, tomatoes on toast. I made the bread with locally milled locally grown wheat (I pass that farm every time I go to Oxford, it's about 10 miles from here). And the tomatoes - some came from my vegetable box, grown in Hampshire, some were last year's slow-roasted frozen, and two tiny ones came from the garden, the first of the year. I'm just off to the farmer's market. Right now. Watch this space!

Related posts

Roasting tomatoes
Slow roasted tomatoes
Homemade tomato ketchup

You can find the dozens of others taking part in the One Local Summer challenge at Farm to Philly

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


This caponatina is cobbled together from a quick look at Antonio Carluccio's Italia: recipes and customs of the regions of Italy whilst lunching at his restaurant ... it's a kind of caponata, which for some reason he has decided to call caponatina ("little caponata"), helpfully translating as "Sicilian aubergine relish". In another of his books, Complete Italian Food, he gives a more traditional recipe entitled (more traditionally) caponata.

The agro-dolce of the caponatina is heightened by the inclusion of pears. Really good. Whatever it's called.


2 aubergines, cubed
8 tbsp olive oil
2 x 400g tins tomatoes
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
60g capers
3 pears, peeled cored and sliced
1/2 tsp ground cinammon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
50g sugar
50ml white wine vinegar

Put all these ingredients into a large heavy pan and simmer gently for about 3/4 hour.

The original recipe also had 100g green olives and 100g slivered almonds (which I should think you put in at the end).

The ingredients for the caponata were:

1 large onion, chopped
3-4 celery sticks
5 tbsp olive oil
1 kg aubergines (probably 3)
1 tbsp capers
20 green olives
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
55g tomato paste
salt and pepper

If this is the recipe Carluccio uses in his restaurants, it's delicious!

Anyway, I've just made it to get ahead for a lunch on Friday, when there'll be open house for my family, as my sister is arriving for a lightning visit from California YIPPPEE, and my father (80-something) no longer eats meat as he no longer likes the taste.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Weekend Herb Blogging, the round-up: 45 wonderful entries

I've had the most fun this week, hosting Weekend Herb Blogging for Kalyn ... the entries just kept pouring into my inbox, some from old friends, many from blogs I hadn't yet discovered. I've got masses of new feeds in my reader, a new clutch of clipped recipes, and a renewed respect for the friendly knowledgeable wonderful food blogging community. Thanks, all of you, for taking part, for sharing your ideas and photographs ....

I've checked and double-checked that I haven't left anyone out, but email me if I have. And I haven't yet checked all the links, so let me know if any don't work ... I'm going to have a cup of coffee in the garden while the sun's shining, but I will come back later to make sure. And then I'll reply to some of the emails that have gone unanswered as the week got more and more hectic.

PS Tuesday: make that 48 - two late entries, and HUGELY EMBARRASSINGLY I forgot Kalyn's entry ... so here they are, at the top!

planted dill in her garden earlier this year, and now she's picking and eating it - this time for a salad made with some leftover salmon, a little celery, some yoghurt. You'll find it at Kalyn's Kitchen.

The Chocolate Lady
was inspired by her visit to New Orleans, and when she got back to Greenwich Village she made a vegan jambalaya - a base of red beans and tomatoes, with scapes, mushrooms, radish greens, flavourings.

Anna at Morsels and Musings in Australia has made the quintessential Malaysian dish Kangkung Belacan - a lovely stir-fry with water spinach / Ipomoea aquatica / ong choy. There's lots of information about this popular vegetable, to encourage you to find it in your neighbourhood Chinese shop.

Victoria at Feed Yourself in Seattle bought tomatoes before hearing about the salmonella scare, so she cooked them up into a quick and creamy pasta sauce.

Dhanggit in Aix-en-Provence also made pasta at Dhanggit's Kitchen, this time Cannelloni Diablo, which she says is really really spicy! It looks wonderful, although I'm wimpish enough to want to leave out a little of the chilli pepper.

Maria from Organically Cooked in Crete has cooked something just up my street, a self-crusting carrot and courgette quiche. She says that in Crete carrots are thought of as a herb rather than a vegetable, and gives lots of links to other ideas for using carrots.

Katerina at Daily Unadventures in Cooking says her kitchen is a disaster and she doesn't feel like cooking, so she's made a simple grilled eggplant dip. Looks like cooking to me, delicious too. Mmm

Glenna at A Fridge Full of Food in Springfield, Missouri has made Broiled Orange Seafood over Brown Rice Pilaf. She calls this eating out at home - a way to avoid the extra fat and calories that seem to come as an automatic side to any restaurant meal.

Over at Intoxicated Zodiac, Gwen made a honeysuckle sour - with a Piscean twist, of course.

Over at Je le vous dirais Maggie's a semi-vegetarian living in Mountain View, Ca - she's opted for chunky herbed mashed potato made with fingerlings from her CSA box - they're a delicate French variety with red skin, and she's paired them with rosemary and oregano, and used soy milk for a vegan touch.

In Siri's Corner, you get a fable and a fabulous recipe. The story concerns a king, a peasant, and a large stone; the recipe is for tofu butter masala.

Cheryl from Alexandria, Va cooks Gluten Free Goodness - this week she's been picking alliums from her garden, only she hadn't labelled them, so there was confusion. Once she sorted that out, she roasted spring onions ... mmm

Syrie at Taste Buddies is doing penance for some calorific profiteroles - she need the simplicity of carrot and kale soup, flavoured with ginger and coriander ... actually I'm not sure I'd call that penance ;)

Sue at Coffee & Cornbread in Southwestern Virginia, USA says she's in a herbal rut, as it's the second time she's blogged about parsley in a week. She threw some parsley into her low fat ham crepes.

Ricki at Diet, Dessert and Dogs gives lots of nutritional information on avocados, and then she passes on the recipe for The Perfect Guacamole (heavy on the cilantro) ... she rinses the onion to remove its pungency.

When Manitoban Fiddlehead Ferns Met Indonesian Kecap Manis is the title of Pepy's intriguing post from Winnipeg, MB, Canada. Check it out at The Art and Science of Food - true to its title, you'll learn about fiddlehead ferns (I'd never heard of them before this summer), and how to cook them.

Cherry and almond sour cream scones are on the menu at Fun and Food - Mansi in California made hers with fresh cherries, but says you can just as easily make them with dried cherries which you've soaked. She also gives ways to vary these scones, using different nuts and fruits.

Chriesi from Almond Corner had the idea of giving a king prawn one last swim - and so created her prawn in chilled canteloupe soup. There's lots of information about melons, too.

Wandering Chopstick
's Bun Bo Hue - Vietnamese Hue-Style Beef Noodle Soup - has lemongrass and lots of it. The soup originates in central Vietnam, Hue, but was made in California, and the post shows step-by-step photographs of all the processes, as well as an informative bit about the differences between bun bo hue and pho.

In the Backyard Pizzeria, it's time for "waste not want not" chestnut soup. If, like Pam (who lives in Victoria, Australia), you're in the southern hemisphere, now's the perfect moment to make this. In the northern hemisphere, we'll have to bookmark this recipe for autumn. By the way, Pam mentions that chestnuts are really a vegetable ...

Y has a ginger treat for us at Lemonpi ... Michael Bras's Pain aux épices: a quiet pleasure, a relaxation, a special moment, with a taste of spices that carry you away to a sunny land. Y says it's wonderfully spicy and not very sweet.

You'll find loads of veggies at A Delightful Delicacy in Elizabeth's chunky chicken cacciatore ... she's moving house, so she wanted to use up what's in the pantry, and - understandably - she played safe with tinned tomatoes because of the US tomato scare. It's Elizabeth's first-ever food blog event ... you chose well - mine was also Weekend Herb Blogging ;)

Dish of the week at Cooking 4 All Seasons is palak moong dal - spinach in mung beans. For Srivalli this is the dance of the youth all remembered again - she hasn't made this dish since her marriage because her husband prefers other foods (I've been there too!). Simple, wholesome, and with spinach from her garden, too.

Phool Makhani Curry (Puffed Lotus Seeds Cooked in a Spiced and Creamy Coconut Gravy)
is something I've never dreamt of making, but Sia's clear instructions at Monsoon Spice make it look easy. First you pop the lotus seeds, then you make the curry sauce. Mmm

Sherra's returning to WHB after a long gap, and she's chosen to make a sweet-savoury spin off of the Filipino favourite turon, a banana spring roll. You'll find it at A Taste of Our Life

Gretchen in Lima, Peru, was walking by the river when she found some breadfruit, and her friend Mayra showed her how to boil the seeds - find out more about this exotic cooking at Canela and Comino

Diane and Todd made little mini tangerine and carrot cupcakes for their party, using tangerines and carrots from their garden - you'll find the recipe at White on Rice Couple

At Kits Chow you'll find three ways to cook asparagus, South Beach-friendly and delicious - Christine's also got a nifty little bamboo steamer from the Chinese shop that's made me green with envy, it folds down to almost nothing when you're not using it.

Kevin's Thai lemon shrimp has kaffir lime leaves which he says are hard to track down - but he also says that they keep well in the freezer. There's cilantro in this, too, mmm, and you'll find it at Closet Cooking

The Foodie's dish has the longest name ever: Cheese Ravioli with Butternut Squash and Portabella Mushrooms, in a Sage-Brown Butter Sauce ... which tells you most of what you need to know!

Zorra in Andalucia, Spain, has marinaded a jar of olives with herbs from her garden ... such a useful recipe for those times when you find the olives you've bought don't quite live up to expectations. Parsley, thyme, rosemary, oregano - find it at Kochtopf

Pam says the herb that spells summer for her is basil, so she's made a basil sauce for chicken using supplies from her garden - as she says, it's easy to grow, and expensive to buy in those little plastic packs. Find it at Sidewalk Shoes

Elizabeth's paired halloumi with sweet marjoram, and gives lots of information and links about this Mediterranean herb - you'll find it at Blog from Our Kitchen

Laura's Vegetable Curry with Coconut Milk and Yogurt comes from south western India and so is not as familiar as many of the curries found in restaurants around the world. It's full of vegetable goodness, and includes garlic scapes, an early-summer ingredient here. You'll find it at The Spiced Life

Victoria gives us a taste of Morocco with her instructions for making ras-el-hanout using many spices - even rosebuds if you can find them. Check it out at her blog, Flavors of the Sun

There's a feast for the eyes - flowers at Heart and Hearth - not sure if you can eat them, though.

Tomatoes with a twist are on the menu at A Lifetime of Cooking - they're semi-dried and flavoured with pomegranate syrup ...

Martha Stewart gougeres with lots of chives and rosemary are on the menu at I'll Eat You - lovely for a party.

There's a mixed tomato couscous salad over at Living in the Kitchen with Puppies, inspired by a visit to the farmers' market, where Natashya found yellow orange and red tomatoes ground in the micro-climate at Niagara. Mmm

Crash-hot potatoes with rosemary and thyme are the side-dish at Technicolor Kitchen - Patricia says they're easy, they look delicious.

Kate at Thyme for Cooking is house-hunting in France, and has funny/good tips for anyone thinking of buying a house there - and a dish which starts out as a quinoa pilaf, then the leftovers morph into a quinoa and lentil salad, both with vegetables and herbs. Just my kind of cooking.

More of the food I love at Palachinka - grilled Atlantic mackerel with parsley garlic oil and lemon ... what could be better?

Check out this beautiful apple and celeriac salad at The Well-Seasoned Cook - Susan says this is quick and bracing, with autumn flavours that work for summer. Seems to me it's a great new twist on a Waldorf salad.

When he got back from holiday, Jerry's thoughts turned to grilled chicken with lemon and thyme, served with orzo salad and asparagus. Yum! Find it at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings and Rants

More celeriac at Cook Almost Anything - this time in a more conventional Waldorf salad. Haalo gives full dietary information on celeriac, as well as beautiful photographs of her lovely salad.

At Do You Like To Cook we've got a grated courgette salad made with produce fresh out of the CSA box ... I love how the restricted choices of the seasonal veg box are making cooks all over the world so inventive.

How about asparagus the Japanese way? You'll find it at Apple Pie, Patis and Paté, dressed in a mustard sauce.

Those of you who know Susan at Farmgirl Fare won't be surprised to hear that her entry was the last to hit my inbox because she was working and moving the sheep all afternoon. But she still had time to make a wholewheat cookie recipe:
Yip Yap Organic Banana Snaps with Chocolate Chips, Raisins, & Nuts. Susan always urges people to buy organic - check out her post on what happens to non-organic bananas, you'll never buy them again.

That's it, 45 entries ... and I've only just realised that I haven't posted one myself! You can find everything you need to know about Kalyn's fabulous event Weekend Herb Blogging here - and next week, Kalyn's hosting.