Napoleon Bonaparte and Clarence Birdseye forever changed the course of our culture and lifestyle. Two events separated by a hundred years contributed to the change from a farm-to-table locavore culture to a farm-to-factory-to-freeway distribution of food. Bonaparte could only advance his armies as far as the food rations would allow. He sponsored a contest for food preservation which ultimately led to the Mason canning jar. Clarence Birdseye was inspired to develop flash freezing techniques after observing Inuit ice fishing. Today that technology allows us to enjoy “fresh, previously frozen” tuna from Samoa.
“Fresh, previously frozen” tuna from Samoa was the catalyst that forever changed the course of my food buying habits. I live on an island where “live locally” is not only the community’s daily mantra it is a state of mind. One in every three cars in line for the ferry is a Prius and if you are at the four way stop in town the default right of way goes to the car that runs on recycled cooking oil. As I picked up the piece of tuna from Samoa that was wrapped in plastic and on a Styrofoam tray I started to think about what it took to get that $6.00 piece of fish to the island market. The mindset of a culture that supports purchasing tuna from Samoa is sheer insanity. I put the fish back and bought locally FARMED…that’s right…farmed salmon!
Here in the Northwest the locavore lifestyle has been around since the late seventies and early eighties. It never was a trend; it was a consciousness about “What’s available from the farmers right now?” Local restaurateurs have embraced this philosophy and have a devoted following of customers. The grand daddy of locavorism is the Herbfarm located in Woodinville Washington. The annual 100-Mile Dinner features nine courses of food, including wine, originating within a 100 mile radius.
I will confess that around February when the northwest winters take their toll on my attitude I will buy oranges from California. I resist the strawberries as I will wait for the ones that are grown locally in the summer. Avocados are my karmic downfall…I just cannot resist fresh guacamole on my salmon fish tacos. A friend in the community raises turkeys. Starting in late September he starts feeding them apples from his trees. By the time November rolls around and they end up scheduled for the dinner table their meat is flavored with the taste and smell of Washington apples. The one drawback is that he started naming them after famous baseball players. Ichiro is still around but Ken Griffey Jr. is gone from the team.
While I live in a unique community and embrace the lifestyle and culture of being a locavore not everyone has that luxury. I consciously rethink my food purchases and have enjoyed the challenges of cooking seasonal offerings from my garden or the local farmers market. With that said, can anyone give me some suggestions on a menu that includes Walla Walla sweet onions, Yakima cherries, Coho salmon and wild fennel?