Sunday, September 19, 2010

Project Food Blog's First Challenge: The Story behind City Share

I am participating in Project Food Blog at Foodbuzz. The first challenge is to define ourselves as a food blogger and what makes our blog unique. I believe my set of experiences uniquely inform my blog. Here is my journey that led me to my City Share blog.

I grew up eating home cooked, well balanced meals. My parents did a great job of always getting dinner on the table for family meals. By the time I was a teenager, I had been helping in the kitchen for years, and could help prepare most of the family favorites.

After college, I worked in a couple of restaurants to help pay my rent. I worked as a server, but I spent all of the down time in the kitchen watching the chefs at work. I already knew how to cook the basics, but it was at that stage that I was exposed to sauces and creating more complicated dishes with layered flavors. Working in restaurants provided me with a turning point, food went from something you ate when you were hungry to something delicious you looked forward to, discussed, and contemplated.

A year after college, I decided to move to rural New York State. This may be hard for some of you to picture, but most of New York State has rolling farm land instead of have high rises. I got a job at The Farmers' Museum and taught visitors about rural life in the mid 19th century. When I arrived, I was a city girl from Arizona. What did I know about rural life in the Northeast? Not much! But I learned, and went on to teach others. The museum has a small farm used to teach visitors about historic foodways. Some visitors would walk in and be appalled that there were carrots with small clumps of dirt still clinging to them. They would declare that they would never eat such dirty carrots. This would be our chance to explain that carrots actually grow in the ground, and that if they had ever eaten a carrot, they had eaten a "dirty" carrot. They just get washed off before they are delivered to the grocery store. These types of interactions were a revelation to me. People had grown so removed from their food! Both children and adults preferred baby carrots from plastic bags and thought eggs came from Styrofoam cartons.

While I was growing up, I knew that carrots grew in the ground and oranges grew on trees because we had a small garden and a few citrus trees. This was knowledge I had taken for granted. Something I had not appreciated before my time at The Farmers' Museum was the seasonality of food. We have gotten so out of touch with our food that we don't know when produce is naturally available in our area. Grocery stores ship produce grown around the world so we can get strawberries in February, oranges in August and asparagus in October. During my time in upstate NY, I started shopping at farmers' markets, and getting to know family farmers. It was an amazing experience meeting the people who raised my food. I learned about the challenges they face from factory farms and agricultural corporations. After I moved away from upstate NY, I continued to read about local and organic foods and their benefits to the environment and our health.

This year, my husband and I decided to participate in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share as part of our effort to eat more local and sustainably produced food. I decided to write about the challenges of eating up the veggies that kept coming each week. It's a very different way to think about food. We aren't thinking of what we want to eat next week, but waiting for the vegetables to arrive and then deciding how to prepare them. I originally wanted to write the blog just to hold us accountable and share some suggestions for veggie overload with other CSA participants. I envisioned my blog as a digital recipe swap. We experimented with names that would convey that we are living in New York City and eating a farm share, and City Share was born. This journey shapes how I think about food, and helps set my blog apart. We want to encourage other apartment dwellers that they too can eat a farm fresh diet. My blog is my way to participate in the conversation about food, farmers, cooking and more. Thanks for joining me.

If you enjoy my blog, please click on my contestant button on the right sidebar and vote for me. Voting begins on Monday, September 20th and continues until September 23rd. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us through your blog :) wish you the best of luck in the future challenges!

Nate @ House of Annie said...

You got my vote! Cheers and aloha.

Unknown said...

You got my vote. Good luck!

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