Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Parents, the Original Locavores

The locavore movement is popular, garnishing much press in Denver and Boulder, Colorado. If a restaurant isn't growing food and plants directly outside its establishment (Mercury Cafe), it has its own garden located elsewhere (Squeaky Bean, Black Cat Farm Table Bistro, Fruition), or sources local products. This is an expensive restaurant list, but there are many less expensive options (Organixx and SAME Cafe).

Supporting these local restaurants are good for several reasons. It encourages a lower carbon footprint. It will encourage other restaurants to do the same. In other words, don't pay lip service to the eat local credo. I also find that local high quality products treated with as few chemicals as possible, though more expensive, deliver more nutrients per dollar. An immediate google search shows this is a naive view, but I seem to function at a high level longer on Frasca's salumi plate (tested at parkour at Apex Boulder) than McDonalds. Are our bodies more efficient at mining nutrients from less processed food products?

These thoughts and more led me question why I enjoy good food. Well, not just good food, good quality food. Cheesecake Factory can be good in the right circumstances, but Osteria Marco's burrata, Root Down's corn cheesecake, Pizzeria Locale's pizza, are vastly superior. Well, I can thank my parents for my obsessions. I wasn't raised on superior sushi or lived next door to an amazing pizza place. I benefited from local beef (raised by my grandparents and locally butchered), a backyard garden including raspberry plants and fruit trees, and food delivered every 6 weeks from a local co-op that got its food regionally. We were ahead of 2005 when the locavore term was reputatedly first coined.

Our diet was pretty varied because my siblings and I shared some food allergies, most notably wheat and dairy. My parents also decided that our diets would not feature sugar or chocolate and there was no coffee or alcohol in the house. This meant we discovered alternative food products such as amaranth, millet, spelt, honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, tofu, faux bacon and cheese, rice milk, egg substitute powder, carob and more at a young age. My mom had to be pretty creative in the kitchen.

And guess what? It's still fun discovering new foods and now restaurants. And even though I have yet to try chocolate (gasp!), I can appreciate it and gift it (Christopher Elbow anyone?). Side note: He was probably my first great food find, discovered up the back stairs of a local Kansas City restaurant before he got his own place. Try Glace also if you're ever in KC.

Well, I'm off to deliver Marcolini chocolates to the doctor that stitched me up. Enjoy the good food and instigate your own meet ups.

Table 6 charcuterie: tasso ham, lamb bacon, pancetta.

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