With the theme of food seemingly being at the height of fashion, there are any number of books available on all aspects of the subject, but I found one of the most interesting, entertaining, thought provoking and at times, confronting to be Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivores Dilemma” (Penguin, 2006). In this book Pollan, an American author and journalist, writes of how modern Western cultures (and specifically the US) seem to have become disengaged from the production of our foods, leaving us vulnerable to the seductive techniques of food marketers and the, frequently overblown, hype of food scientists, resulting in our nutritionally compromised modern diets. He writes about his journey following the path of three different food chains resulting in three meals that he then eats – the industrial (a fast-food meal), the pastoral (an organic meal) and what he terms the “Personal” – a meal which he has grown, hunted and killed himself. This book is guaranteed to make you have more than a passing thought about where the food on your plate has come from, how it got to you and whether it was worth it!
Since reading this book I have become, in a small way, a primary producer and, with Pollan’s words echoing in my head, the husband and I put quite a bit of thought into how our first herd of plump and glossy, happy, paddock-fed steers were to end up on someone’s plate. As omnivores at the top of the food chain, I believe that we owe respect for the lives of creatures further down. We were very fortunate in that we were able to get them into the cattle yards and onto the truck very calmly, using bales of hay as inducements, and they had just a very short drive half an hour up the road to abattoirs where they were “processed” the same day. They were not stressed, overcrowded, left in small yards for days at a time or driven long distances and I believe that their meat will be all the better for it.
In an effort to ‘connect’ with even more of our own food, we have just joined with a wonderful organisation new to Adelaide called Food Connect Adelaide . Originating in Brisbane, this organisation is dedicated to connecting consumers with local farmers and encouraging the eating of seasonal, local fruit and vegetables, produced using ecologically sustainable methods. The general public can become subscribers, signing up to receive a box of local, fresh produce delivered to various distribution points weekly. The distribution points are called “City Cousins” and are, in fact, other subscribers who elect to have their homes serve this purpose. This not only reduces delivery costs and greenhouse gas emissions from delivery trucks on large routes, but serves to promote a sense of community as subscribers become acquainted with others in their areas.
I picked up our first box of fruit and veggies yesterday and, as you can see, it was a little ripper, bursting with loads of fresh produce and topped off with a deliciously fragrant bunch of fresh basil! There is more than enough fresh product there and my mind was busy with cooking ideas as I unpacked it into the fridge. The two very good sized zucchini were the first thing that we have eaten from the box, using a delicious recipe for Zucchini and Herb Fritters from my patron saint, Claudia Roden and her book “Arabesque” (Penguin 2005). These are fresh and full of flavour from the added herbs and perfect for a lunch or as a side dish at dinner. Claudia says not to add salt as the feta is quite salty, but I disobeyed her (gasp!) and added just a little.
1 onion, chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
500 gm zucchini, grated
3 Tbsp plain flour
ground black pepper
pinch of sea salt
2 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
200 gm feta, crumbled
oil for frying
Fry the onions in oil until golden and soft, add zucchini and lightly saute until soft. Cool slightly.
Beat the eggs and flour together until well blended, add pepper, salt, herbs and mix well, then add feta and mix. Add onion and zucchini and mix.
Fry the fritters in small batches in hot oil and drain on paper towels.
These would be delicious served with a yoghurt and cucumber salad or a (mildish so as not to over-power the flavours) chutney.