For all the buzz about eating locally, people sure to get persnickety about it.
1. Placing too much emphasis on trivial or minor details; fussy.
I'm a big fan of eating locally - good for health, good for local economy, good for environment, everyone wins. But frankly, when you live in Bismarck, North Dakota, local ingredients available in early March include a) potatoes and b) "artesian ice water," aka snow (take that, Fiji!). Yay for Napa Valley residents that can nosh on local baby greens, asparagus, and organic Meyer lemons in early March. The rest of us appreciate Super Target.
However, even in the middle of winter, I try to be aware of where my food comes from. Although I'm not a flag-waving patriot™, I try to stick by a simple rule: buy USA.
It's easy, really. In the produce section, most everything is labeled with a country of origin. Look at the packaging and flex your geography muscles.
Potatoes: Produce of USA (North Dakota even - bonus point!)
Broccoli: Produce of USA, although me thinks "Ocean Mist" is probably not a North Dakota company.
Clementines: Produce of USA, and "premium fresh" no less.
Red pepper: Produce of Honduras (minus one point, but I really wanted a red pepper, so just bought one instead of my usual two or three)
This simple rule helps our little household eat somewhat in season (no blueberries or grapes in March) and close our food footprint radius a tiny bit, even in the bitter winter months. However, this also means that we rarely purchase kiwi and mango and truth be told, we still have a banana habit that's been hard to kick. I blame the two year old.
Once you've mastered the country of origin search in the produce section, you can take it to another level and start checking things like shrimp (most likely China), canned pineapple (probably south Asia), and even your morning orange juice (Brazil?). I'm not advising a complete elimination of imported food - today I'm not feeling extremist - but a heightened level of awareness about the origins of our food supply could do us a lot of good.
There may be something to be said for sweet ignorance. Imagine how low stress life could be if we were blissfully unaware of the consequences of our choices and simply didn't give a damn.
Fortunately, we give a damn.
A Midwestern Stir-Fry Saute
I don't dare call this stir-fry since a) I don't own a wok and b) I don't use the quick high-heat method, instead sauteing the veggies and then covering the pot to steam them. An authentic stir-fryer would freak out at my slapdash method. But it works for me, and it's tasty too, so I hope you enjoy it too. Any veggies work - just be sure to add the dense veg first, since they take longer to cook. And yes, the pepper, spices, and probably the sherry and soy sauce are all imported items. But I can a point for the broccoli, right?
Oil for the pot (I usually use about 1 Tbls. canola oil with an extra drizzle of sesame oil)
1 large head broccoli, stem sliced and top cut into florets
1 red pepper, sliced
1/2 tsp. Chinese five spice (don't have Chinese five spice? Use some ground ginger with a pinch of allspice.)
2 Tbls. dry sherry
Low sodium soy sauce to taste
Heat oil in a pot or large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add broccoli to hot oil, stirring quickly to distribute oil. Sprinkle Chinese five spice over broccoli, then add sherry and a good drizzle of soy sauce. Stir, then immediately cover pot to capture steam and let broccoli cook for about one minute. Uncover, add peppers and stir, covering for another minute. Remove from heat and serve immediately with brown rice, scrambled eggs, and extra soy sauce to taste.