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Thursday, March 24, 2011

LocalHarvest News - March 24, 2011

LocalHarvest News - March 24, 2011

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

Last year I heard a true story that keeps coming back to me as much of the country approaches the beginning of the local fresh produce season. In this story, one mother is considering joining a CSA. She has heard, rightly, that she's likely to receive many vegetables that will be new to her family. So she calls a friend who has been a CSA member for some time, and asks how their family has dealt with the expansion of their vegetable repertoire. "Easy," says the friend. "If we don't know what it is, first we fry it in a little butter. If that doesn't work, we try it with a little Ranch dressing."

Now, I grew up watching a lot of television, including that great series of health education spots that ABC ran in between Saturday mornings cartoons. One was an animated song called "Don't Drown Your Food," in which Our Hero rescues a variety of foods from a surfeit of dressings. "Food's so much better when it's practically plain!" he sings, while pulling a baked potato from a vat of sour cream. Sound advice in the 1970s, and probably even more needed now. The chorus rang in my head when I heard the Ranch dressing story.

Still, I think this story points to a greater truth: we all need to start where we are. If it's a choice between familiar but negligibly nutritious tater tots or kohlrabi dipped in Ranch, I say go for the kohlrabi. That might not be the desired end point, but it's a place to begin. Whether we're trying to eat more vegetables, less meat, better meat, or what have you, I think that a real shot at change starts with two things: being honest about where we are starting from, and acknowledging that most change happens incrementally. These first steps remove the false hope that change is going to happen magically, without effort. Thus freed, we can make a realistic plan for how to get from where we are to where we want to be. Maybe it starts with a schmear of salad dressing on the foreign vegetable, and later moves to ketchup, then salsa, and eventually a little swirl of olive oil makes everybody happy.

Spring is the time when many of us make plans for how we're going to eat this summer, whether we're signing up for a CSA, laying out a garden, or counting the days until the farmers market opens. We say go ahead and be adventurous this year! It will likely be a lot of fun if you start with small changes and build from there. If your family has had success changing its eating patterns for the better, we'd love to hear how you did it. You can post your ideas here.

To Spring and new beginnings!

Eat well, and take good care.


Erin Barnett

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