Friday, April 16, 2010

Market Economy

What brings together the mayor of Miami, Miami’s greatest chef, Homestead farmers, Haitian refugees, tatted hipsters, Overtown residents and guys in suits? Jewel-like heirloom tomatoes. And fresh, locally grown collards, carrots, eggplants, green beans, loquats and more. It all happens at Roots in the City, Miami’s newest farmers market and magical convergence of cultures.

Well, you know how skeptical I am about magic. I’d like to have faith in the universe’s benevolence and all that, but usually I find we’ve got to help it along. Roots in the City has had some serious magical muscle behind it, including Daniella Levine and the folks at Miami-Dade’s Human Services Coaltion, our community shared agriculture maven Margie Pikarsky, Michael’s Genuine chef Michael Schwartz, whom I have long worshipped and Michel Nischan, new to my pantheon but ensconed there evermore. Chef and author of Sustainably Delicious, Michel is also founder of Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit working to make fresh food accesible to everyone. Wholesome Wave has sponsored over a hundred farmers markets in 12 states, the latest being right here.

Roots in the City not only brings fresh produce to an underserved part of Miami, it offers double value on food stamps. A dollar’s worth of food stamps gets you two dollars’ worth of veggies, and lifetime Overtown resident Sarah Wallace was going for it. In the past, getting fresh produce had been too much struggle -- too much money and too much travel, because Overtown, like many of America’s food deserts, has convenience stores and liquor stores, but nowhere selling anything fresh.

When Roots in the City opened, Sarah didn’t have to take a bus or three across town, just leave her apartment and cross the street. She was the first person at the market when it opened, buying up bags of vegetables, hugging Michel, sampling some of Michael Schwartz’s braised collards and politely listening as the mayor gave her an earful about how important Roots in the City is. Like she doesn’t know. Still, she posed next to him for a photo op, her arms full of fresh collard greens, carrots and tomatoes.

This is the Miami I’ve always hoped for, one in which we all come together, whoever we are. Because we all gotta eat. And we all deserve to eat well. So it's in everyone's best interest to make the magic happen.

Roots in the City Farmers Market Scramble

Feel free to switch out the veggies for whatever’s fresh at your local farmers market. Lacto-ovo lovers may likewise swap eggs for tofu and cheese for nutritional yeast, but honeys, tofu, unlike eggs, adds little fat and no cholesterol, and nutritional yeast tastes cheesily fabulous without the fat and gives you a hit of mighty vitamin B-12, besides. Open yourself up to possibility. I’m just saying.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion or 3 scallions, chopped

1 jalapeno, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 small zucchini or yellow squash, chopped

OR 1 cup greens, fresh spinach, chopped or blanched collards, sliced into ribbons

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 tomato, chopped

12 ounces firm tofu, drained and squeezed to get rid of extra water

1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped fine

sea salt and fresh pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion, jalapeno, red pepper and zucchini, if using. Continue to saute, stirring, until vegetables soften, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Stir in cumin, turmeric, nutritional yeast, chopped tomato and optional chopped greens. Stir together until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes.

Crumble tofu into skillet. You may mash with a wooden spoon or have a wonderfully tactile experience smooshing it with your fingers. Scramble together in merry fashion, breaking up any odd tofu clumps. Cook until combined and heated through, another minute or 2. Add chopped cilantro, season with sea salt and pepper to taste and tip onto two plates.

Serves 2 generously, 3 people if you’re adding rice and beans or cornbread or something additional. Recipes doubles, even triples but is best eaten hot, fresh and at once.

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