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July 10, 2007

Locally Grown Chard

Category: Organic & Local Food,Take Actions,Tips – Tom Harrison – 9:15 pm

Tonight, we ate chard.

At our local Whole Foods Market this weekend, I looked for locally grown food. Not a single fruit “of the season” was locally grown (well, ok there were some hydroponic tomatoes from Holliston, but are they really fruit?). In desperation, I sought out Whole Foods’ pale green indicator of locally grown items and found one to try: chard.

Chard has a special meaning for me, just as do beets, and to a lesser degree rhubarb: when I was a kid, we had a real vegetable garden in our summer house in Maine. There were various veggies like carrots (oh my god, they were good) and lettuces (very good once the slugs were removed), beans, and squashes: zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers (these, actually from the other garden my uncle’s house next door). But I always remembered the chard. Partly because it wasn’t one of those vegetables Birds-Eye had — it was the 60’s, everything green came in a square box, frozen. But partly because, secretly, in my not-yet-10 way, I actually didn’t mind it that much. I like beets too, still and can tolerate a rhubarb pie.

So as I despaired at the lack of locally grown produce, much less anything else, I impulsively picked up the chard. And it was a good thing.

Ok, first, chard is incredibly simple to cook:

  • Peel the leaves from the stalks
  • Wash
  • Chop it up a little
  • Slice 4 cloves of garlic; sauté with olive oil in a big pot that has a cover
  • Throw in chard and toss to coat with oil until it wilts (a minute or two)
  • Put in a little water (2 Tbsp)
  • Cook (and here’s the rub, 5, count ’em five …yes V, minutes)
  • Salt, pepper, lemon juice

In addition to being easy to cook, it tastes good. It was firm, tasty but not stiff or overpowering. It was dark, dark green. And it tasted like garlic. And it was grown a few miles from where we live. And it’s healthy, and (I kid you not) both kids ate it with only the most minimal complaining.

And props to Carter: his camp went to the farmer’s market today and he bought (locally grown) tomatoes. I sliced them in half, added oil, garlic, salt and pepper and grilled them for a long time on high heat. Tomatoes like this are heavenly. You can’t really cook them too long: they just get ore and more condensed and rich and delicious.

We had some grilled sausages, too (chicken) — not a lot. Oh, and did I mention the wine. And music. And it was a cool evening. And the music. And the wine.

Our dinner tonight was awesome. I cooled off in a nice breeze after my bike ride home, then showered. The kids were playing with the neighbors while Theresa and I talked and had a glass of wine and listened to music on the patio. Then we ate.

So what’s not to like: healthy food, wine, talking with your wife, music, kids not complaining, dark green veggies and tomatoes from around here, garlic, olive oil, and of course, wine.

(Flash back 15 or 20 years ago: get home late from work, eat a Big Mac on the drive home, sit in front of the TV and drink beer, wake up, eat no breakfast, fast lunch, stress. I still have the stress and some other things to work on.)

But if you’re eating chard, it can’t be all bad, can it?

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