Sunday, October 09, 2005

Okra -- For Me??

Yesterday at the Santa Rosa farmer's market a woman who looked familiar said, "You're that healthy vegetable woman, aren't you?" Of course my reply was, "Yes."

We were busy picking out ripe peppers, red and orange ones for me and yellow for her. I asked her name and she told me Mary Ann. She went on to say, "I'm not sure why but this year everything tastes so great. Maybe because it's in season now." I told her that all seasonal vegetables taste great. We both paid and moved on.

I ran into Mary Ann a while later while I was eyeing eggplant and wax beans for an upcoming Spice class recipe for Green Beans with Tomatoes and Cinnamon. (It is alluring and delicious and wax beans will work well with the green beans for contrast. I will actually use 3-4 kinds of beans including Romano, pole and perhaps dragon tongue.) The next thing I heard was Mary Ann saying, "I have some okra for you. I already paid for it. Have fun with it."

It makes me wonder about my farmer's market shopping experiences and how they might differ from yours. Has anyone ever dropped some okra into your shopping bag on purpose? This was a first for me. Although I did recently contribute a dollar toward someone's green onion purchase. Maybe this was part of the "what goes around comes around" energy.

Indian or Creole food springs to mind with okra. I don't fry so it will end up as part of a mixed dish. I've made vegetarian gumbo before, at the request of a student who failed to show up that night for class. The soup was great and gave me a new appreciation for okra.

Today is GE Free Day here at the Sebastopol Farmer's Market. I want to support the effort. While I would go shop anyway, the main event featuring Percy Schmeiser, the farmer in the Future of Food, isn't until noon. There will also be 4 bands who will donate tips to the GE Free campaign ( In my opinion we must stop GMOs in Sonoma County so that we don't end up contaminating our food supply. So, off to shop and support clean, organic, seasonal and most of all delicious food.

I am more fired up now than before I went to see Percy Schmeiser. He's a farmer would could be anyone's grandpa, yet he is passionate about keeping the food supply safe for everyone. He actually spend half a million dollars to fight Monsanto and the Supreme Court still ruled that Monsanto owns the patent on their GE canola and he used their technology (even though he truly didn't want to). Percy says that the government doesn't want labeling of GMO food and wants to take away our choice. I certainly hope that people here vote YES on Measure M - banning the use of GMOs here in Sonoma County for the next 10 years. Anyone who cares about what they eat HAS to care about this. My soapbox is getting wobbly so it's time to step down.

My non-GMO lunch was so delicious today that I ate it all - eggplant, potatoes, peppers, okra, corn and tomatoes with Indian spices, topped with chopped organic cilantro. All I needed was a bowl of quinoa or red or black rice and it would have been complete but forgeoing that, I ate three bowls. That's what I so enjoy about fresh vegetables, you can eat abundant amounts. And, I get a workout carrying them at the market. Life is good.

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