Now that Thanksgiving is over and I’m at least 8 pounds heavier, it’s time to…keep eating. One of the best parts of the holidays is the mornings after…and the hearty breakfasts that will last you through the morning without stuffing you like the turkey did. The mornings after the football games (did you see the triple header – Auburn win!! Oregon…and that Nevada!!), I like to prep breakfasts that are flavorful, simple, and celebrates local, organic ingredients.
Organic foods do not always had a good reputation. People have criticized the likes of Chef Ann Cooper and Alice Waters saying that they don’t understand “regular” people who cannot afford organic foods. It seems there may be a “cultural war,” as Washington Post’s Brent Cunningham and Jane Black write about.
True, organic foods tends to be more expensive. But is the “crusade against fast and processed food…an obsession of ‘elites’…and not ‘real Americans’?
The answer is no. Actually, those who try and make this a “crusade” are missing the entire point.
Does it make me un-American to support local American family farmers, prevent our American children from growing breasts prematurely, or raise awareness among our American neighbors that food is something to value and appreciate, not something that is conducted out of scientific laboratories for the dollar menu?
Does it make me an elitist to spend a little more on what goes into my body and into those for whom I cook? I don’t own $100 handbags. I carry a little bag that came free with a purchase. I don’t wear $500 shoes. I wear my shoes until the soles start to separate.
Yes, I was one of those who spent more money on an heirloom turkey and ham from local NC hogs. But when I start hearing about 7-year old girls developing breasts, and my own lip starts puffing up when I eat conventional apples (it took me years to realize it was the pesticides I was allergic to), I realize that my food purchases are at least something I have control over and I don’t see it as a cultural war, I see it as a way to watch my health, support my community and value food.
In the U.S., I know I’m fortunate to have the option to purchase organic foods. The organic industry isn’t this well developed in every country. Remember the cooking oil scandal in China where oil was recycled from sewers? That has prompted a movement in organic farming there, though it is not nearly as widespread as it is here.
Or as well developed as Canada, which has fairly sophisticated local food systems, like the Concordia Food Systems Project. Local food, like organic food, can be pricier than conventional foods, because the economies of scale are far smaller.
But local food supports local economies and tends to be provide fairer wages for farmers and producers. When we pay higher prices for local or organic foods, we forget that for the most part, we underpay for our food. Food has long been cheap, often due to the unfair wages paid to laborers. As I was making this super easy Tomato Mushroom Egg Bake (this photo series, recipe below), I was somewhat comforted by the fact that even though my tomato was $0.30 more per pound, I knew that the people who picked it were compensated fairly.
This is not always the case. The tomato industry, in particular, is notorious. Wages haven’t risen in 30 years. A person who can pick a TON a day, might make $50 a day. Of course, a ton a day doesn’t happen. This wage, of course, doesn’t include health care or other benefits.
So I am willing to pay more for local and/or organic foods. But I’m not a wealthy person (monetarily), so I try and make my dollar stretch just like the next person. Since I had already had eggs, milk tomatoes, etc. on hand for the Tomato Mushroom Egg Bake (photos above, recipe below), I figured I’d utilize as many of the same ingredients the next day for another hearty breakfast.
This Ham and Egg Pastry Pie (recipe below) allowed me to stretch the dozen eggs, the cheese, etc., so I only had to purchase a few additional ingredients. I plan a week in advance so that I make different – but similar enough – dishes together so I can maximize the purchase.
This way, I avoid the last minute – oh-it’d-be-cheaper-to-pick-up-fast-food-breakfast where the eggs aren’t really eggs and everything is processed.
As Tom Philpott, a financial journalist-turned-farmer who helps run Maverick Farms in North Carolina (an educational non-profit promoting sustainable agriculture and local community development) argues, it is possible to afford organic food. A lot has to change to change the food system – policies, personal choices – but we all too often forget the real cost of food is not just on the sticker price.
Call me an elitist if you want. If that’s what it means, I’m proud to be a snob.
Tomato Mushroom Egg Bake
2 English muffins
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cup baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup gruyere, grated
2 green onions, chopped
1 TB dried basil, crushed
1 clove garlic, minced
1. In skillet, heat olive oil
2. Add chopped tomatoes and mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes until soft. Season with salt and pepper
3. In bowl, whisk eggs, milk, basil, and garlic
4. When tomato/mushroom mix is ready, take off heat source and cool
5. In small casserole dish, place English muffin at bottom
6. Top with tomato/mushroom mix
7. Pour egg mix over everything
8. Wrap with cellophane and put in refrigerator overnight
9. The next day, take out and keep at room temperature for 45 minutes
10. Add gruyere cheese
11. Cook for 50 minutes at 375F
Ham and Egg Pastry Pie
1 sheet puff pastry
1/2 pound ham
2 green onions, chopped
1 TB milk
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
1. Cut puff pastry sheet in quarters
2. Put one quarter of the puff pastry in each small casserole dish (one of two) or ramekin
3. Add 1/4 of the ham in each dish
4. Crack two eggs in each dish – poke gently so eggs runs slightly
5. Add green onions
6. Layer the rest of the ham
7. Put top layer of puff pastry and press
8. Mix 1 egg, milk, and cheese in separate dish and use as wash over each pie
9. Bake for 20 minutes at 350F
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About the Author (Author Profile)With a flair for spontaneity, pizzazz, creative excellence and her own unique sense of aesthetic grace and perspective, we have our very dear friend, Belinda (or B, to some of us). Although an incredibly accomplished professional and career woman, B’s down-to-earth approach and demeanor transcends all scenarios, communities and people. She manifests, in her day-to-day, the essence of the word “Zomppa” as demonstrated by her extraordinary commitment to creating sustainable and positive change for us and future generations to come. She’s asked for a dog every year since she was five. Check out Belinda’s work on global education research and coaching: www.hummingbirdrcc.com or more about her portfolio www.belindachiu.com.
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