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New Recipes for a New Year of Eating Local

To help you eat local in 2012, we'll be giving you lots of recipes this year that you can make using local, seasonal ingredients.

First of all, Happy New Year to everyone, and I must say that I hope at least one of your resolutions pertained to buying more local food this year and cooking more of it yourself.

One of my Christmas gifts was the new book by farmer and activist Joel Salatin titled Folks, This Ain’t Normal. In this book, he describes in sometimes frightening detail how far removed from natural, normal farming our present food system has strayed with the blessing of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the support of our tax dollars. I was particularly amazed by the data in a small chart which compared the nutrient content of eggs from his own pastured chickens at Polyface Farm to the USDA standard for supermarket eggs. This comparison would hold for just about any free-range egg you would buy at a farmers’ market this year.

The numbers for vitamin E, vitamin A, beta-carotene and Foliate were many times higher for his eggs, and the measured amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat were much less. In fact, it was a little hard to believe that the measurements were for the same food, especially since the USDA would like us to believe that all eggs are pretty much the same. What this means is that in this country 98 percent of us are now buying and consuming thin-skinned, elliptical replicas of real eggs that seem to be good only for overdosing us on cholesterol.

This is also similar to the differences between industrial milk, which has been pasteurized to kill all of the good bacteria we need and homogenized in a way that breaks down its cell structure, and the less-processed milk you can legally buy at a farmers’ market in this state. Which reminds me — you may have read already that I now call commercial or industrially produced milk “milk product.” It is simply no longer the good-for-you fresh milk by the time it reaches the grocery store.

Salatin’s book inspired me to do even more to encourage all of you to buy more local produce and meats throughout the year, if for no other reason than to make up for the nutrients we are losing when we are forced to buy some items from the grocery store in the winter. Most of the dairy, vegetables and meats in the store are not really food anymore, and even the baked goods and prepared foods are so “stabilized” by chemical additives that they too have lost their wholesomeness on the way to the supermarket shelf.

From now on with each weekly post, I plan to pass on to you a new recipe to try. These recipes — some of which will be from my other new books — can all be made with mostly local ingredients and can provide a perfectly delicious, truly healthful and reasonably priced evening meal. If you can promise to serve at least one more home-cooked meal a week this year, that will be a great first step to a healthier lifestyle and maybe lead you to the second step — we’ll get to that one and more as the year unfolds.

This week’s recipe is for a New Year’s skillet saute. Next week I am going to talk about chicken — one of those things you can buy all year long at a market somewhere fairly near you in the winter months. And if you have any ideas of your own or recipes to share, please join the fun! Leave a comment here or email me at jean@smartmarkets.org.

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