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Saving the world, one carrot at a time

October 17, 2010

Last week over breakfast I told Col and Rose the story about the Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days. Col listened, wide-eyed and awed. This is his kind of story: dirt and danger and tools. He asked how the miners got trapped, how big the drill was, and when they used the crane (he was pretty sure a crane was involved). And Rose, bless her sugar-dusted heart, had only one question, “what did they eat?”

As a mother, this very question has occupied a large part of my mental real estate for the past five years. It travels a well-worn neural pathway in my brain labeled “keep kids alive and prevent scurvy.” You’d think that the food I serve my children are bricks of love forged directly from my heart because if a child of mine devours an elk meatball or a garden carrot, ten thousand peace doves flutter from my chest.

When Dan was out hunting elk in mid-September and I was whirling around the kitchen stuffing the garden into canning jars and freezer bags, I paused long enough to realize: holy gender roles! How ‘bout I make a batch of peach jam in my flowered apron while you chase huge herbivores through the forest honey? And perhaps it’s the specialized hormonal cocktail endemic to females that has my mind downloading salsa recipes and seeking corners of the house to cram with root crops, or maybe it’s just me.


small, naked child with July cilantro bouquet.



And, cilantro pesto


Speaking of gender roles, from Col’s journal this weekend:


"the bull elk Daddy shot"



"this is Mama washing dishes"



So, I’m not saying that supporting small, local farmers is going to save the world, but if you think building soil fertility, boosting local economies, access to fresh, healthy food, creating jobs, improving personal health and reducing our dependence on foreign oil are beneficial, than perhaps buying a handful of carrots at your next farmers market is a good place to start.


Durango Farmers Marker, October 2010


This week in San Juan Table read about how to celebrate local food without becoming a zealot whom no one wants to invite over for dinner. And get my recipe for Salsa, perfected.

Thank you for tuning into San Juan Table, my editor thanks you too.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. Diane Petersen permalink
    October 17, 2010 10:21 pm

    LOVE it all!!! That cilantro pesto looks de-lish and wonder if you wouldn’t mind sharing your recipe? Thanks for continuing to support my dreams of being able to one day do just a tenth of what you do!!

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      October 18, 2010 10:32 am

      Diane, The cilantro pesto recipe is just like basil pesto, though without nuts and with extra lime. So (sorry, no proportions): cilantro, lime, olive oil, fresh garlic and salt. Throw it in the blender (add water or vinegar if more liquid needed). I freeze in ice cube trays to make thawing small amounts easy.

  2. October 17, 2010 10:39 pm

    I can second the gender roles. How does that happen? We do try to mix things up. My man loves tucking cucumber seeds into the ground in May, and I love stalking the elusive wapiti in September. But, still.

    Great post!

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      October 18, 2010 10:25 am

      At least you hunt! Apparently all I do is wash dishes!

  3. October 17, 2010 10:43 pm

    Great column today.

  4. Ami permalink
    October 17, 2010 10:46 pm

    Thanks Rachel, for a great post! I have been having a little guilt about not growing much of my own food this year…. but you’ve reminded me that we DO consume a share and half of our local CSA’s amazing produce, which has a “winter share” too and that I personally have converted a few people into CSA eaters…. also, in the last year, while I’ve been ignoring my own crops, I have become painfully aware of what’s local and what’s not at the market… finding myself in a near rage for having to buy green beans at the coop that were from “california” as opposed to any one of the 10 farmers who sell them locally…. I think to myself “sheesh” the market was just yesterday and there were beans spilling all over, why didn’t any make it two blocks away to the coop??? Also, one day I found the bell peppers to be from holland, and from turkey the next day!? All while I KNEW they were season elsewhere in cali….Anyhow, I am in FULL support of local and I can’t believe you know of a local salt mine! How amazing! Additionally, the beer DOES count as local! That money circulates in your community as opposed to the money spent on beer brewed elsewhere…. LOVE IT! Thanks!

  5. October 18, 2010 1:19 am

    Oh, you always make me smile with your humor, the way you can laugh at yourself and your family. Yeah, we may still fit into stereotypical gender roles, but if it makes you happy, why does it matter? Love the pics of your kids and produce.

  6. October 18, 2010 5:14 am

    I think I just woke up the rest of the family with the guffaw that escaped over daddy out shootin elk and mama washing the dishes!! : )

  7. October 18, 2010 6:42 am

    Well, if it doesn’t save the world, I don’t know what will. Thanks for the salsa recipe…I’ll save it in the queue till next summer. Sigh. And the vinegar and lime juice make it safe for hot water bath canning, yes?

  8. October 18, 2010 9:20 am

    Eating out of our garden makes peace doves flutter from my heart as well! I love too that my kids try new things like the persimmons I got yesterday. Persimmons are one of my all time favorite fall foods and my kids gobbled them up.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      October 18, 2010 10:29 am

      I just drooled, thinking of fresh persimmons. What a treat!

  9. October 18, 2010 8:10 pm

    what a beautiful post and gorgeous photos! i love the carrot and cilantro photos – with beautiful sentiments to match!

  10. October 18, 2010 8:28 pm

    Oh, with the gender roles. Ours are perhaps a little more 1960s-idyll, with my partner heading off to work while I teach in the liberal arts and hold office hours in the basement. Ah, well.

  11. ike permalink
    October 19, 2010 10:31 am

    Great post-beautiful writing and photos. I want to second your comments on energy savings from eating locally and organically if possible. There is a big potential energy savings-transportation, refrigeration and other factors too.


  12. October 19, 2010 6:21 pm

    I cannot tell you how much I love the naked child with cilantro picture…so great!

    And what better place to start from in our mission to save the world than literally in our own back yards, with our gardens and our children :)

  13. October 22, 2010 2:18 pm

    oh, yes, i love the cilantro picture! please enlarge and frame! i try to wave around power tools as often as possible to give the kid a sense of equality. he pointed out a screw i screwed in this morning! (all others done by papa, of course). i’ll continue to pretend i am making an impact. and request more papa-washing-dishes.

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