LocalHarvest Newsletter, December 15, 2009

Dinner at Beck Grove

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

A few years ago, my husband taught at a school for teenagers who didn't fit in any of the other schools in town. One day he asked his students how many of them regularly ate a meal with their parents. Of the ten kids who'd made it to class that day, only one raised his hand. The rest said they just fended for themselves, grazing in the cupboards when they got hungry enough to take a break from their video games. They shrugged when they said it, like it didn't matter. Most of these kids' parents were working long hours at several jobs just to get food in the house in the first place. Still, among the many hard things these kids faced, between ourselves we counted the absence of family meals high on the list.

Nowadays many families eat together only sporadically, due to parents' work schedules — driven by necessity or the habit of overwork — or to children's extracurricular activities. Yet this time is irreplaceable. It is, to my mind, what makes a house a home, and part of what makes a group of people a family. These are the people I come home to at the end of the day, and cook for and sit with; this is the hour we bless with our presence to one another.

There is much attention being given these days to the need to improve the quality of food served in our nation's public schools, and rightly so. To serve our children the best food, grown with care by farmers who are also part of the community in which the children reside is a sensible and widely beneficial thing.

But let us also remember the value of the meals we share at home.

Last night I spent an hour making supper, as I do almost every evening, and at some point between chopping the garlic and browning the onions, these thoughts came loudly to my mind, "I love to cook. I love to make food for my family." Yes, I thought, as I listened to my husband and daughter playing in the next room, this is a sweet part of the day. And then we sat down together, lit some candles, said our grace — "Thank You for this food, and that we are together" — and ate.

Cooking and eating together need not be elaborate, but it is best, it seems to me, when it is consistent. Like most such commitments — planting the seed planted in early spring, bringing the baby home from the hospital — the fruit may be months or years in the ripening.

At all times, but especially in this season of holiday bustle and stress, may we all slow down long enough to invite one another to the table, and when we get there, to look around and welcome with gratitude those who have gathered.

As always, take good care and eat well,

Erin Barnett

From the LocalHarvest Store:

In need of some holiday gift ideas? LocalHarvest farmers offer a big selection of gift baskets, filled with everything from fruits to honey, cheeses to meats. If your loved ones like nuts, the 2009 crop is in, and they are at their freshest and finest. We also have some beautiful California olive oils to treat the home cooks on your list. And don't forget what a great gift a box of fresh citrus makes!

Can't decide? LocalHarvest e-gift cards make a great gift. Your friends and family can browse through our entire catalog and find the thing that they like best.

A Little Something

Called "la yapa" in South America, and "lagniappe" in New Orleans, it's been a while since we've included "a little something extra" for your entertainment and inspiration. We really enjoyed this —— what would you call it? Article, piece, blog, story, travel log? whatever it is, we liked it. http://kalman.blogs.nytimes.com/

Food from the Farm: Roasted Beet Salad

Beets are one of my favorite vegetables from early summer until deep into winter. I rarely boil them, preferring the sweet chewiness that slow roasting gives them. Tonight we found ourselves without fresh greens, and served a version of this dish with just the beets and goat cheese. It was still delicious.
(Recipes and More...)