farmer_marketExcerpt from: The Locavore Way Discover and Enjoy the Pleasures of Locally Grown Food, by Amy Cotler

We’ve shopped; now let’s eat. Start with opening your fridge to salad greens fresh enough to dance into their bowl, pouring today’s cream over strawberries so fragrant they barely made it home, or peeling thick winter carrots that stain your hands orange and taste astoundingly like carrots. These aren’t the same sad greens, cardboard mega-berries, and sawdust carrots you’d find at the supermarket.

This standout food calls for a new way of cooking. Your food stash isn’t just stuff anymore. It feels different, whether your counter’s overflowing with summer’s bounty or you have just one local item – like a jug of maple syrup boiled off in mid-March, calling out, “Pour me over pancakes!”

You’ll want to carry this food’s story – where and who it came from – into the kitchen, because it conveys more than its flavor. It connects us to each other. Over local food, strangers bond, friends become friendlier, and even enemies loosen up. It connects us to the culinary traditions of our family, our region, and the season, while encouraging us to create new traditions, too.

Aren’t many of the best times you can remember ones that involve food? Highlight local food at holiday dinners, birthdays, or any get-together. Create a celebration from the harvest. Churn ice cream with peaches from your neighbor’s tree. Go all out with a corn-and-tomato six-course meal. Or don’t do much of anything and let the food speak for itself. Share the shock when people taste thick-cut Brandywine tomatoes from Taft Farms or a little Seckel pear from your CSA share with a dollop of soft blue cheese tucked inside.

Cook alone or ensemble, but cook. Local food lends itself to open recipes and improvisations; methods of preparation are not chiseled in stone but a door to fling open. So walk right in and look around. This food is so good it’ll almost prepare itself. (And it’s wholesome, too.)

If you don’t cook or if you just need a break from it, savor local food raw; no need to embellish. Or go out to eat. Dining out will never be the same once you seek out restaurants and unlikely eateries – from diners to hot dog stands – that embrace local foods. Ever taste freshly ground grass-fed burgers at your neighborhood joint? Ravioli made with foraged mushrooms? Spring greens and local cheese?

After all, this food is the best you’ve ever eaten. You can taste the life in it.

Used with permission from Storey Publishing, LLC, and Amy Cotler. Copyright 2009.