Reading a review of some Seattle restaurants in the New York Times on Monday reminded me of exactly how Aaron and I got started on this venture into cooking and gardening to begin with: we wanted good food.
The article is filled with the usual digs at Seattle natives in our polar fleece and rain jackets. The reviewer also takes note of the natural beauty the area provides. I can't disagree, we are "wondrously watery" and many of our trees are quite pointy, though those aren't necessarily the first descriptors I would choose to describe our locale. Eclectic, natural, and down-to-earth are much higher on my list. As a rule, we are also more than a little concerned with green living, local eating, and environmentalism.
While the locavore mentailty of the area is, in large part, seen as a positive throughout the article, the author also often refers to the near-obsession a bit bemusedly. While the rewards are clear in the taste of the edibles, the fanaticisim with which we approach our choice to live locally often mystifies many people wandering through from other corners of the country. Admittedly, I used to share in that confusion. What did it matter if my apples were from Washington? It's not like I could grow my own bananas. In the end, it took flying halfway around the world for me to realize just how much it could matter.
For our honeymoon, we went to Fiji. It was sort of a random choice originally. We wanted somewhere warm & beachy that would not be in the middle of hurricane season in mid August. Fiji ended up being our answer and for that I'll be forever grateful. If you've never had bananas, oranges, pineapples, or any tropical fruit from so close to the source, I regret to inform you that your life experience is sorely lacking. I never knew how much I could love bananas until I ate them in Fiji. Breakfast became my favorite meal of the day as I stacked my buffet plate high with fruit and went back for multiple refills of my freshly squeezed juice. Heck, most days I went back for refills of food as well. My palatte was in absolute heaven. It's a good thing I didn't need to fit in my wedding dress anymore.
It took a little while for me to transfer this new-found understanding back to the Northwest. But eventually it sunk in. The local stuff just straight up tastes better. And hey, it's also good for the environment. And not too shabby for the economy. And impressively good for my health, as I suddenly started craving fresh salads, stir fried veggies, and strawberry parfaits in place of my usual gigantic bowl of chocolate ice cream covered in cool-whip. I also started craving and eating things seasonally. In the springtime I want fresh veggies and light pastas. In the winter I can't seem to live without hearty stews and fresh soups. By extension, we started being regulars at our local farmer's market. It's a little more expensive to buy our food this way, but the rewards are so great that we find it difficult not to. If we can't get to the farmer's market, most weeks we will make the journey to PCC (a co-op in the area). We buy less, but most of the tradeoff comes in the way of processed foods - cookies, chips, and various condiments that we find we don't need as much of anymore. And while it's a lot of work to make (and grow!) everything at home, again, the results are worth it.
These days I apparently embody the Northwest stereotype that articles like this one discuss and poke light fun at and I'm totally fine with that. Because at the end of the day, it tastes freaking good to be a locavore.