Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chaos, Conspiracy, Carrots



I comfort myself by believing in chaos theory, that seemingly unrelated events are linked. A garden in Milwaukee can have consequences for a girl in Miami.  There is a great shiny matrix of connection, something that binds us all. You just have to be open to the signs. There's the rub.

But I've been seeing signs lately. Yesterday, I went to hear Will Allen, who heads the nonprofit Growing Power.  At 60, Allen still has the build of the pro basketball player he used to be and the forearms of the farmer he is. He's an urban farmer.  Okay, he does have a 30-acre farm in rural Wisconsin, but Growing Power also has a farm in residential Milwaukee. Allen creates sustainable urban farms and vegetable gardens in Chicago, Kenya, the Ukraine and hopefully soon somewhere near you.  His sustainable farm systems are on a scale that puts my postage stamp-sized garden to shame, yet he says I'm on the right track.  He says we all need to grow our own food.   He spoke to my heart when he said, "We cannot have sustainable communities without a healthy food system."

Allen spoke at Temple Israel yesterday, a talk that came about because the temple's rabbi Jody Cohen had been thinking of how in Leviticus, farmers allowed those in need to harvest fruits and vegetables from their land. Cohen wants to make that happen now at Temple Israel, in the middle of impoverished Overtown.  You know, I just get to thinking that we're inherently design flawed as a species when people like Allen and Cohen prove me wrong and make wonderful things happen.  They bring out the better part of my nature.  Must hang with them more.  

So I was blogging away about how fresh, sustainable food is a right, not a luxury and urban farms put what seems like a dream within reach, that growing healthy food improves our health, our lives, our connection with our food and with each other when the doorbell rang.  It was my postman (who does not ring twice) delivering my copy of T. Colin Campbell's The China Study.

Campbell's study has come up in almost all my nutrition research but I'd resisted buying the book because 1) I'm cheap and 2) I'm already on board with his message -- a vegetarian diet can save your life.  But in the name of due diligence, I bought the book, here it was and I flipped it open.  "Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence," Campbell writes. "All parts are interconnected."  Spooky.

See?  It all comes back to the same thing -- caring, whether it's caring for ourselves, our communities, our planet or about what's for dinner.  I can multitask and do it using these gorgeous organic carrots from my community farm share.  It's a divine conspiracy.

Tomorrow -- what to do with a cow.   

Tunisian Roasted Vegetables


4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, cut into strips
3 carrots, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced 
2 ribs celery, sliced
8 ounces mushrooms, quartered (or halved, if small)
1 large onion sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon harissa (Moroccan chili sauce)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon lemon juice
sea salt
1 bunch cilantro, chopped fine

Slice and chop vegetables.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, add olive oil, tomato paste, harissa, cumin and lemon juice.  Stir together until smooth.  Add vegetables and toss to combine.

Place vegetables on cookie and roast at 400 for 15 minutes.  Stir vegetables.  Roast for another 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Salt to taste and garnish with chopped parsley. Kinda spicy, kinda festive, very easy, very healthy.

Serves 4-6.  

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