Friday, June 19, 2009

Local eating, figs for spring

         I'm a local eater in a big way. Two weeks ago I bought my first strawberries since last summer, and truly, absense does make the heart grow fonder. And the fruits of waiting are very sweet.

            Once in awhile, I just have to eat something from far away. I've spent the last few years sorting out my own personal food choices - and food choices are just that -incredible personal (and political). There's a few things I'm not willing to give up, for example, bananas and chocolate. But for foods like these, it's possible to be fair and environmental. Fair trade, organic bananas are available at quite a few places in Toronto. It's a step up from organic, where farmers are free from harmful pesticides, but are still only paid around a dollar per box. Fair trade means the farmers are getting fair market prices: around 8 dollars a box. The difference to us? Actually the same price as organic bananas, around $1.29 a pound. That's where the personal choice comes in. Am I in a position to spend 40 cents more than commercial bananas to ensure what I'm eating is not harming farmers, and that those farmers are getting enough money to reasonably make a living? Chocolate? Same deal. Cocoa Camino is my favorite organic fair trade brand, but there's a bunch out there.

           So here's something I eat a few times a year. Figs have a unique taste. And, along with bananas, they were one of the first plants to be cutivated for human consumption, around 11,000 years ago. Here's a fig salad, surrounded by some local ingredients.

Strawberry Fig Salad
makes 2 servings
8 figs, sliced crosswise across the top (see picture)
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup goat cheese
1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
2 tbsp grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
salt and pepper

         Combine strawberries and figs in a bowl. Crumble goat cheese and walnuts over top. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Drizzle over salad.

          This is what I ate with the salad. I had all the fixings for an awesome pizza, but I have yet to tackle gluten-free pizza dough. Instead, I made a big giant rosti (recipe here) and then broiled it for a few minutes, covered in sliced tomatoes, basil leaves, kamalata olives and raw milk feta. It was delicious.

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