This week’s small steps: A lunch of sautéed winter greens from the year’s first farmers’ market, giving a special book to our contest winner, and finding inspiration in your small steps.
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Those are Michael Pollan’s word to live by. We’ve probably all heard them by now—but I’ll never forget how I felt when I first read them in his article Unhappy Meals, published in The New York Times in January, 2007. I’d held a similar food philosophy since childhood, and I’d already been acquainted with Pollan through The Omnivore’s Dilemma the year before. But those words—ancient truths bursting with urgency in the modern moment—those words were different. They were a shiny new beginning and a ticket home, both. An unhappy corporate lawyer sat in my chair that morning and devoured the monstrous article in one sitting. She did not stop to speak with her family until she was through.
They haven’t heard the sound of silence since.
Our local farmers’ market opened for the season last weekend. Every spring, I use this moment to return to Pollan’s words, to try to relive the feeling of digesting them for the first time, to channel my good but sometimes scattered intentions into that place where anything is possible. To borrow a little motivation from the master.
This year, thanks to all of you, my sources of inspiration are multiplying like the rabbits I can’t seem to bring myself to to give Umami Boy the thumbs-up to breed in the backyard. (We’re getting chickens, though, for reals. Wish us luck.) Your comments about small steps toward sustainability are quite the encouraging force.
These are a few of my favorite ideas from your comments. Thanks to everyone for all the great suggestions!
- Cooking with your kids is an especially rewarding endeavor. But, like anything else with kids, it can also be both harder than just doing the darn thing yourself and a lot less charming than it looks in commercials. Commenter Anja suggested watching a good cooking show on TV with your children and then trying to replicate the process at home immediately afterward. I love that idea for putting some of the organizational onus on a third party.
- Commenter Anna Muggiati holds a cooking playgroup with a few friends and their young children and blogs about it here. It’s not the smallest of small steps, but it’s a great idea and could be a lot of fun.
- Lots of you mentioned trying to cook at home more often, and with local ingredients where possible—and sharing stories, information and encouragement with friends. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to read that. These are true small steps, but they add up to a vast, and vastly important, result over time.
- A few of you mentioned something that I aspire to get more involved in but haven’t yet done: showing up at school in one capacity or another to share your knowledge and elbow grease with kids. Teach them about worms’ role in composting, help start a garden, or just dip a bell pepper in some hummus together once in a while. It’s the showing up that counts.
- Commenter Stephanie stressed having fun and being inclusive in the pursuit of good food. It’s something the sustainability movement has struggled with in the past. Let’s get on that, people!
And, of course, the winner of In Defense of Food, where “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” earned immortality. Congratulations to Anna Muggiati! Your comment number was chosen with the help of random.org. I hope you enjoy the book.
Easy Winter Greens Recipe with Bacon and Feta
It's easy to eat your dark leafy greens when they're incredibly savory and delicious.
- 1 large bunch cooking greens (kale, beet greens, chard, collards, dandelion, mustard, etc.)
- 2 ounces of the best, thickest center-cut bacon you can find
- 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock (for long-cooking greens only)
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 ounces feta cheese
- Salt and pepper