Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sustainable eating and Fresh Strawberry Tarts!

Last week I bought a flat of fresh strawberries from the farmer's market, along with some beautiful rainbow chard, broccoli, and sugar snap peas! We enjoyed having such quality and delicious produce to experiment with, and it got me thinking about some ethical food issues that I've been mulling over lately: eating local and eating food that is in season.

There are a host of benefits to eating locally and seasonally. It's fresh, healthy, and sustainable. But there are a few downfalls too, mainly having to do with cost. There is just no getting around the fact that it costs more to shop at a Farmer's Market and other local sources then to go to Superior's, Winco, or Food4Less (my main sources for cheap food). For Barry and I, operating on a very tight budget, it's hard to make the leap.

We haven't decided to convert 100% to eating local and in season - we're just not to that point yet. But we are much more conscious about where our food comes from. It feels (and tastes!) so much better to pay extra in support of local farmers than to have our produce shipped all the way up from Mexico, where they sprayed it with who knows what. And when it does arrive, it is covered in wax and far from fresh.

So for now, we've made a few changes to our food budget. We haven't increased it, but we have allocated more funds to a Farmer's Market trip once a month. We'll continue to reassess as time passes and make changes as needed. It's a step in the right direction, and I'm excited to see how it goes!

Now, back to the point: Fresh Strawberry Tarts! There's nothing quite like the simple joy of biting into a freshly made strawberry tart! It's strawberry season right now, and I'm planning to make the most of it!

Fresh Strawberry Tarts
Makes 4-5 small tarts
9 graham crackers, crushed
4 Tbsp margarine, melted

Hint: Usually I use a mixture of blended nuts for my crust. It's delicious and requires no added fat. If you run out of graham crackers or don't have any, blend 1-2 cups of nuts and skip the butter. You can also use a combination of nuts and graham crackers. That tastes splendid also!

Creamy Filling
2 blocks tofu
4 oz Cream Cheese (that happened to be the amount I had left. Use whatever you've got or not at all. If you skip the cream cheese, add extra vanilla flavoring.)
Scant 1/4 cup sugar
Juice of 1/2 a meyer lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla flavoring

Strawberry Sauce
1 cup strawberries, washed and hulled
Sugar, to taste
Juice from 1/2 a meyer lemon

Sliced strawberries
Mint leaves

  • Mix crushed graham crackers and butter in a bowl and press into small tart pans to create a firm crust.
  • Blend tofu, cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla in blender until smooth. Pour into prepared tart crusts. Smooth with spatula or spoon.
  • Blend strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a blender until smooth. Pour over top of the creamy filling in the tarts.
  • Garnish with sliced strawberries and mint leaves.
  • Chill & enjoy!


  1. I could see that "Walmart produce" is probably less sustainable in the sense that Chinese / Big farm agriculture may be exploiting and depleting the soil content. Perhaps it is taking advantage of workers?

    However, I can imagine an economist making the argument that higher spending in the food sector (maybe your farmers market is cheaper than Walmart? -- if so, you have an excellent case) would detract from the many other investments that sustain our economy. In that case and sense, would it be a sustainable investment to eat local? What do you think?

    -- an Organic food farmer and curious but loyal supporter! ; )

  2. Sustainable, in this context, refers primarily to the environment.
    For the record, however, we agree that buying produce at a Farmer's market is just one of "the many other investments that sustain our economy". Your question seems to imply that other investments might sustain the US economy more than buying produce at a Farmer's market. This may be true--perhaps you could enlighten us with specific research and examples? But in any event, money spent on local business helps sustain the local economy. Therefore, buying produce at a Farmer's market may or may not be the MOST economically sustainable choice, but we're scratching our heads to see how it could actually be UN-sustainable. So, to answer your question "would it be a sustainable investment to eat local?" Yes! Would it be the MOST sustainable, economically? In the short run, we're not sure. In the long run... we won't have much of an economy if we lack an environment to survive in...

  3. What other investments are you referring to? I'm interested in supporting my local community - that's what I mean by local.

    And you're right, maybe it's not the most effective way. I'd like to hear what ideas you have that would be more effective. But I do think we often ignore/overlook simple steps (such as supporting local, small businesses by buying their product) in hopes of making a bigger impact. But when it comes down to it, what bigger impact can we make? (Other than promoting economical awareness on a large-scale level, which at this point, we have neither the talent, influence, or time to do.) Change starts at a grass roots level - individual people that make up individual families choosing to support their local economy in the best way they can. That's what we're trying to do.