With Scott’s illness a few years ago and my ongoing struggle with energy and chronic pain, I’ve become interested in food as medicine. I love this quote that i found on Pinterest: “You are what you eat, so don’t be fast, cheap, easy or fake”. Over the years we’ve changed the way we shop and eat, and try to live a life where food plays a more central part. Sometimes it’s a little more expensive, though not always. But even when it is, what is more important than health? Surely a little investment in a functional body is worth it? We are usually happy to fork out for medicine and treatments when things go wrong, so why not spend that money up front. Think of it as insurance!
I believe our bodies have evolved to thrive on the food that grows closest to our home. Don’t ask me to find the science to back this up. It might be out there, but what matters to me is that it feels right and makes sense intuitively. Our bodies so often need the exact foods that grow at that time of year. Oranges arrive just as our immune system needs a boost of vitamin C. Root vegetables feature through winter for those nurturing slow cooked meals, and tomatoes, capsicum and cucumber return just in time for crisp summer salads.
But let’s face it, it can be tricky to eat seasonally. If you’re used to buying the same fresh produce most weeks of the year, a fridge full of unfamiliar veggies can send you into a spin. Although our generation is decidedly more adventurous than our parents, many of us still get by on a simple diet of potatoes, carrots, onions, tomatoes and some greens like broccoli, beans and zucchini. While these versatile veggies are certainly a part of a local, seasonal diet, they only appear at certain times of year. At other times your shopping basket will be heavier in cabbage, kohlrabi, radish, rainbow chard and beetroot. A good ‘Austrayan’ family used to a simple fare of meat and 3 veg is in for a shock!
We get our locally grown, seasonal food from a wonderful member-based business called Local Organics, since I discovered them a few years ago. They’re a social enterprise that work directly with local farmers and producers to source fresh food, as it’s picked. Members can order a weekly box or pick up fruit and veg as needed from their backyard store a few days a week.
From the Local Organics website:
We like to eat local because food grown close to us is the freshest, full of life and nutrition. It doesn’t wither and deteriorate during long journeys across the country, so arrives in our kitchens in better condition. It also supports the farming communities and local economies that feed Melbourne. We want to support them, so they can continue to sustain us.
I support them wholeheartedly in their efforts and want more than anything for their business to succeed and become profitable. For the moment however they run on blood, sweat, and volunteers. Scott and I recently met up with Marcus and Angie who run Local Organics. We wanted to find out if there was anything we could do to help them succeed so that more people can have access to this kind of food. One of the ideas from that discussion was a weekly meal plan for box scheme customers.
I started meal planning not long after my first Local Organics box. It takes a little bit of thought at the start of the week but saves a huge amount of time later. I’ve had to be creative and come up with plenty of simple, tasty meals that appeal to a fairly fussy family of eaters. Scott & I will eat anything, but our Pumpkin and the Boys are a little less open to beetroot, boc choy and rainbow chard. I’ve become an expert at ‘throw it all in together’ dishes and can turn just about anything into ‘leftovers Shepherds Pie’. So when Marcus & Angie talked about losing regular customers who simply couldn’t manage seasonal eating anymore, I knew exactly how to help.
I now whip up my weekly meal plan a few days early and send it over to Angie who prints it out and pops it in the box when customers come and pick up their produce. I’ve created a simple table (see this week’s below) that lets customer know what extra items they should buy to make the meals, and what they probably already have in their pantry. Feedback is positive, and I’m enjoying giving back. If you have any suggestions for seasonal meals, please do send them my way. I’m looking for inspiration on a weekly basis now!