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Earth Day Every Day: Live Like A Locavore!

April 21, 2012

What’s a locavore? Depending on who’s doing the defining, a locavore is someone who eats foods grown and produced within 100 miles. Others define it as 400 miles.

Why would you take on the challenge of eating locally?

One reason is that it is much better for the planet to eat food that comes from your neck of the woods. Your carbon footprint is lower because what you consume is not traveling as far, and local food and especially food purchased from a farmers market consumes less materials and requires less packaging.

I know a number of people who have taken on the 100 mile Locavore challenge and enjoyed it. They had “freebie” days and they could purchase a certain number of products which were from outside the boundary. We grow such a diversity of products all year around here that it is much easier to do it here than for someone who lives in a less temperate climate.

We try to eat as locally and as low on the food chain as possible. In addition to the benefits to the planet, the food is fresher and tastes better. So I thought for Earth Day, I’d document and share some of the stories of how we eat.

Here in Ventura, we not only have a temperate climate and some of the best soil in the world, but we live on rich coastal waters. From December through April, the tuna boat comes in about once a month.

You can buy a whole tuna (around 50#) and share it with friends or you can buy as many pounds as you want.

You can even choose your tuna and watch it butchered in front of you or you can come back.

This is the last weekend for the tuna boat so we’re definitely stocking up on this incredibly delicious sushi grade tuna. Our favorite way is seared for less than a minute on a steaming hot skillet then sliced onto a bed of mixed baby greens, blueberries, walnuts, and white stilton cheese with dried apricots. We drizzle  a champagne orange vinegar and sesame oil on it. I love to pair Washington merlot with seared ahi tuna–the fruit in the merlot is supple, velvety, and rich.

The tuna boat is in today all day and will be selling tuna again tomorrow until 3pm. We’re getting our tuna then and having Monday night with a bottle of Columbia Crest Horse Heaven merlot.

Many Saturday mornings, first thing we go the fish market at the Ventura Harbor to purchase another seasonal favorite, prawns caught in the Santa Barbara channel or possibly a box crab, lobster or whelk. Pictured is a box crab–they fold up on themselves just like a box–a box with algae growing on it! If you have only had frozen crab, you deserve it to try it fresh sometime.

For our money, when they are in season, we usually go for the $4 a pound prawns: $10 can feed our family well. The season for prawns is the first Saturday in October through the first Saturday in June.

We usually cook the prawns simply as they come, dropping them live into a hot pan of butter, garlic and olive oil, throwing the ones that jump out back in, and cooking them for a few minutes until they turn opaque. Then we peel and eat them at the table with a pile of pasta dressed with olive oil, basil, and parmesan. Messy but so so unbelievably sweet and tasty!

Sometimes we blanche broccoli in the boiling pasta water before cooking the pasta or we saute mushrooms and other vegies, often adding tomatoes just before taking the skillet off the fire.

The prawns are best eaten immediately- they are living (and pooping) and unless you want to deal with a lot of prawn poop, eat them sooner rather than later or cook them all up at once.

I like the prawns with chardonnay–anything goes from a traditional oaked California style to a lightly oaked one to stainless. With our prawns tonight we’re going for a balanced, complex and not too heavy Ojai Vineyard chardonnay, a locapour for our locavore dinner.

In addition to prawns and pasta, we’ll have a caprese salad: arugula and tomato from the Farmers Market plus buffalo mozzarella drizzled with balsamic and olive oil and served with a ciabatta from Blu Orkid Bakery.

Fresh clams and oysters are another option for us for local seafood. Last August, Mark Reynolds opened up the Jolly Oyster at Ventura State Beach so we can get farm fresh oysters and clams every day, and we eat them about once a week. The oysters I LOVE raw; the clams we steam with garlic, white wine, and olive oil. Once you’ve had fresh clams, it’s hard to go back to frozen or tinned ones! Oysters are great with sauv blancs, pinot grigio, sparkling wines, and torrontes; the clams go well with those wines as well as chardonnay.

Another recent business to open is the Ventura Meat Market. They are super strict with their quality and while they try to buy their meat locally, sometimes it comes from further away. We love duck, but instead of getting one there, my husband was able to trade a few bottle of wine I selected for a few duck a friend of his caught–and that’s what will be on the table on Sunday. To pair with the duck and for this month’s edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, I’m going to open a bottle of Barossa shiraz.

So there you have it–some ideas on how we live like  locavores!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 22, 2012 1:46 am

    Reblogged this on Wine Predator and commented:

    Are you a locavore? Do you like to locapour?

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