SeriouslyI can only handle so much trendy food. I don't want spirulina or chlorella or maca in everything I eat. Remember when everyone was head over heels for pomegranate juice about 5 years ago? Then acai hit the market. Now everyone is nuts over chia seeds and maca. Or camu (what is that anyway?) or lucuma (againwhat?). Not that I'm against this stuffper se. I'll try anythingI love new flavorsand I'm a sucker for foods that are packed with nutrients. But every time I put an $8 bag of goji berries in my basket at the co-op I ask myself"Are you insane?" This fancy bag of funny dried berriesas delicious as they aredon't even come close to making a mealnor do they have anything to do with my local food economy. My $8 could be much better spent on an entire bag of vegetables or a whole organic chicken. Multiple meals from locally produced ingredients vs. one bag of goji berries shipped from who knows where...what would you choose?
AH! Crisis of dietary conscious!
GenerallyI find myself buying the gojis anywaytempted by their bright red color and sweet tart flavor and crazy vitamin C content and comparitively low sugar count. But I think raises interesting questions about the place of non-localnon-seasonalhard-to-come-by superfoods in a whole foods kitchen.
When I buy obscure powders and fancy ingredients shipped from half way across the worldam I really supporting a sustainablelow impact lifestyle? What am I really paying for - hypeor legitimate nutrition? Is it about the experience of eating this superfood or is it about how it really makes me feel? Ormore likelyis it about being part of a market-driven culture of health-driven foodies who will pay top dollar in the hope of achieving ultimate well-being? Does it even make sense for mea genetically northern European personto be indulging in these foreign delights as a source of nutrition? Does my DNA even know what to do with it? Is it possible to get just as much beneficial nutrition from things that we have in our own backyardscomparitively speaking? That is what our grandparents didafter all. And those farm folks were healthier than most adults nowI'm willing to bet. If cabbage was good enough for my grandmait is good enough for meright?
To be fairI'm as guilty as anyone when it comes to buying specialty ingredients imported from afar. For exampleI love sea vegetablesand I live nowhere near the ocean. I have Himalayan pink salt and Hawaiian red salt and Indian black salt. I relish in imported Spanish saffron. I would cry for days without a bottle of high quality important Italian extra virgin olive oil. My favorite coconut oil is straight from the Philippines (by way of a Minnesota-based distributor). I am a product of a global food economy; I enjoy world cuisine and all the delights it has to offer on a regular basis. Unfortunatelyour local food economies are often not set up to be completely and totally supportive of a locavore lifestyle. Making the choice to live completely locally and seasonally is HUGEand I am nowhere near. HoweverI try to support this idea as much as possible. Most of the foods that make up the basis of my diet arein factlocal. I buy local vegetables whenever possibleonly buy locally-raised poultry and red meatand try to get other locally grown ingredients whenever I canfrom grains to spices to beans. I try to eat seasonally. I grew my own food this summer and preserved farmer's market purchases through canning and in my freezer. I try to make responsible choices with intention. But I'm not militant. I have those gojis in my fridge and mesquite flour on my shopping listafter all.
I guess what I'm getting around to is that I want food that is simple. IdeallyI want it local. I want it to just make sensein harmony with nature and seasons and energetics grow zones and all that stuff. I want to feel that it is linked to tradition. I want it to feel like home. I want to see what I'm eatingI want it to be obvious. I want to know where it comes from. I don't want to have to rely on fancy powders extracted from roots grown in obscure corners of the earth I will probably never visit in order to get my nutrition. I have food right here in my own state that can give me what I need. Transparency in ingredients is part of why I eat this wayafter all. So why should I willingly overcomplicate things with ingredients that I don't understand? Especially if it really doesn't even taste good (come onreallydoes anyone like the taste of spirulina?).
And for these reasonsamong many moreI adore vegetable slaws. It allows the vegetable to shine throughsimpleeasyunadulteratedpure. No cookingjust some chopping. Maybe a drizzle of olive oil or an easy dressing. Freshlovelycrisp.
For this slaw I chose to use some tired-looking (local) green cabbage from my crisper and a particularly gnarly bulb of (local) celeriac. I love digging out homely stuff from the crisper and making magic. This slaw has a distinct celery flavorthanks to a the combination of celeriac and celery seeds. It makes me think of eating coleslaw at family suppers at my grandma's house as a kid. This is nothing like her coleslawbut it makes me think of her. Finished with a bite of ground mustard and the tartness of umeboshi plum pasteit is a tasty accompaniment to any meal. Best yetit is ready in less than 10 minutes.
And you want super? Cabbage is an awesome source of vitamin C and is naturally antimicrobialand aids with detoxification. Celeriac is loaded with vitamin Cphosphoruspotassiumand fiber. Celery seeds are naturally diuretichelping to rid the body of excess fluidand are naturally anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic. Umeboshi plum paste has long been used in Japanese cuisine as an appetite stimulant and detoxifying agentand it is naturally alkalizing.
Okayokayso the umeboshi plum paste may be a little fancy. It is expensive. It has nothing to do with my heritage. And it was shipped from far away. But it is delicious.
HeyI've always been contraryeven unto myself.
yields approx 4 cups
1/4 head smallish green cabbageshredded (about 2 cups)
1/2 medium celeriac bulbshredded (about 2 cups)
1/2 tsp celery seeds
1/4 tsp ground dry mustard
1/2 tsp vitamin C crystals (or maybe around 2 Tbsp lemon juice?)
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp umeboshi plum paste
freshly ground pepper & sea salt
Grate the cabbage and celeriac using the large holes of a box graterand put in a large bowl. In a small bowlwhisk together oil and umeboshi pastethen add mustardvitamin c/lemonand celery seed. Pour over grated vegand stir to mix. Add pepper and additional salt as desiredand serve.