Are You a Locavore?

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August 14, 2012

So I guess if I had to have labels I could be called a redheaded, pescatarian, middle-aged, Midwestern yoga nerd, and none of those labels would bother me one bit. And, I’m proud to say that I now have a new label: “locavore.”

Just what is a locavore, you ask?

It didn’t become an official word in the Oxford American Dictionary until 2007, but it is the perfect label for a new generation of cooks and consumers who are passionate about buying, cooking, and eating food that’s grown, raised, or produced close to their homes. According to Marilou Suszko, author of the new cookbook The Locavore’s Kitchen, the label comes with more honor than “foodie” and less pretense than “food snob.” We are just a group of folks that loves eating fresh food that is as good for us as it is for the farmers, the land, and the environment.

I really got on the locavore bandwagon this year when I joined a community share agriculture (CSA) group called City Fresh. Now each and every week I pick up a bag of locally grown vegetables and fruits and have been eating some really delicious food. When you eat local foods you are practicing ahimsa (non-harmful activity) – both to the environment and also by feeding yourself healthy, non-harmful foods.

The only problem I have with this CSA is that I keep getting vegetables like kohlrabi and purslane that I have no idea what to do with. Tough problem to have, huh!

Enter Marilou Suszko, and my problem is solved. Marilou has been coming to my summer beach yoga classes, and one day brought me a copy of her beautiful cookbook The Locavore’s Kitchen. I couldn’t have received a better gift, because this cookbook has all the answers I needed on what to do with my veggies.

The cookbook is organized in chapters by seasons of the year, and in each season there are recipes for the harvest. I quickly turned to the summer section and found a recipe for eggplant caviar. I always have trouble preparing eggplant, but Marilou has completly demystified the preparation of eggplant for me with this super simple recipe. I whipped it up in no time and served this spread of eggplant, onion, bell pepper, garlic, lemon juice and basil (I replaced dill with basil and a red bell pepper with a hot pepper) on toasted Italian bread slices. My family gobbled up the delicacy in minutes – no better proof required to know that the recipe rocked!

For each local seasonal ingredient featured in the recipes, Marilou provides tips on how to choose the best, store it fresh, prepare it for cooking, and stash away some of the seasonal goodness so you can enjoy it in the winter months.

This weekend I’m going to make a watermelon, feta, and fresh mint salad to take care of some of that mint that is growing like crazy in my backyard and the watermelon I picked up in my City Fresh share this week. I looked ahead to fall and already can’t wait to make pumpkin risotto and pumpkin fondue.

My only complaint about the cookbook is that I would love to have pictures of what all these creations look like. But, there are gorgeous pictures of all the veggies used in the recipes, and they really are the stars of the book.

The recipes are easy to follow and full of inspiration to help me grow even deeper into the practice of eating and preparing foods that are grown locally. Thank you, Marilou, for this awesome collection of recipes and for being a local foods advocate!

If you are interested in purchasing The Locavore’s Kitchen, you can order it online or pick it up at Barnes & Noble stores.

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