Sunday, August 4, 2013
I'm going to let you in on a little secret. My life is not 100% organic. Nor is it 100% chilled-out-mellow, though I do aspire to reduce my stress levels via regular exercise, yoga, tea and dark chocolate. (Especially tea. And dark chocolate.) To me, living a sustainable life is about living in a way that's sustainable - and not just in terms of the environment. It has to be an approach - a process - to living that I can maintain - changes that I can keep up with no matter how tired I am or where I am in the world.
Things I can sustain, that make me a better, healthier person.
So no, I don't always eat organic food. I try, and that's what we should all aspire to, as it's better for our bodies and for the environment. But non-organic broccoli or red peppers or cherries are far from evil. They're not the ideal, but we don't live in an ideal world, do we? We live in a world where sometimes the difference in price between organic and non-organic seems worth it - and other times we just really want some mangoes, dammit, so who cares? We live in a world where stuff gets shipped from across the planet - even organic stuff - so we have to decide not just what looks appealing, or how it's been grown, or what we can afford, but whether or not its local or even regional.
Shit. That's a lot of thinking, for one apple.
So here's my thinking process:
- Is it contribute to a healthy, varied diet? Yes? Continue.
- Is it fresh? Yes? Continue.
- Is it in-season (here, not Bolivia) and/or reasonably local? Yes? Continue.
- Is it organic? Yes? Woo hoo!!
At stages 1-2, a 'no' means I put it back down. At stages 3-4, a 'no' means I'll think a little more about it ... I'll consider how much I really, really want eggplant today or what the price difference is between organic and non-organic. I'm often willing to pay almost double for organic, but it depends on how they look and how leafy they are. (I almost always go organic on leafy stuff).
The fact is, I make my choices there while I'm looking at the produce, rather than in advance. I have my ideals, but I also need to keep it real.
All in all, this is a really long-winded way of saying - do your best. It's ok.
Have some salad.
Roasted Red Pepper and Capers Salad
adapted from one of my fave Italian cookbooks, Italian Country Cooking
Red peppers - here in Australia, known as red capsicums. They burst with flavour, colour, crispness and vitamin C, and sometimes (let's be honest) they burst the bank, too. One of our local fruit and veggie vendors sells 4-packs of use-now red peppers for less than $2, and even though they aren't organic I just can't resist them. They're in perfect condition, save a blemish or two, and I can roast them up the same day, tuck them in olive oil in the fridge, and use them when I need them over the next week or two. This is my current favourite recipe, simple but versatile. Eat on its own, with flatbreads or bread, use as a topping for pizza.
15-20 min roasting + 10 min prep
4 red (or yellow) peppers/capsicums
1-2 large tomatoes, minced
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
a handful of torn basil leaves and/or flowers
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs capers, rinsed
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (optional)
sea salt, to taste
1. Remove the seeds and stems from the peppers and roast them at 200C (400F) until they're cooked and start to char. Set them aside to cool. Meanwhile, mix all the other ingredients (except for the lemon juice) in a large bowl.
2. Peel the skins off the roasted peppers and chop them into thin, long strips (or however you like, really). Add them to the rest of the salad and mix well. Serve at room temperature or cold, and drizzle lemon juice over the salad just before serving, to cut through the oil right at the end.
Well, I've already told you I didn't do this one totally organic - though the non-pepper parts of the salad were. All in all, this cost me $4 to make.