Author: Micaela Belles

Glimpses of Green in Paris

Since I can’t watch the garden grow, i’ll have to find my own green spaces here in Paris. Here’s a few to start with:

Season’s Eatings

It’s interesting to think back to my childhood, and recognize my complete ignorance of seasons. As weird as that sounds. Having grown up in California, the weather isn’t always much of an indicator for the calendar. And fruits and vegetables weren’t in season, they were just there– under the bright fluorescent lights at the grocery store.
Now that I have spent two years in New England and eating fruits and veggies is no longer an obligatory task, seasonality has a whole new meaning.

I now understand why peaches are so expensive in April, why fava beans are only fresh in May, why strawberries seem to be overflowing all the way through the summer, and why root vegetables are so popular in November.

Especially this summer, as I keep up with the bounty of the Tufts Garden and watch the magic unfold at the Full Circle Farm (see older post), I understand that we have to stop depending on southern-hemisphere Chile to provide us with produce during its off season. It’s important to learn that we can’t always have it all. That’s what makes each fruit or vegetable that much more enjoyable.

In May, I could have bought a pound of plums at Safeway for $3.50 a pound. Instead, I waited for the obscenely juicy, ripe, local, $1.50 a pound ones that didn’t crop up at the farmer’s market until early July. I can’t even explain how excited I am for the flavorful and bright tomatoes that are taking over each stand right now.

The sublime FRESHNESS that comes with eating seasonally even reduces cooking time, I swear. I can’t bear to bake those gorgeous apricots into a tart, I’d rather bite into the plump meat, letting the juices run unchecked beneath the band of my watch. Pureeing tomatoes to make a soup? Criminal. I’ll eat those just like that apricot.

This may seem exaggeratedly crunchy, but I guess that’s why my friends tease me for lusting for green beans while they crave cheese fries.

But try it. “Eating locally” just comes along when you eat seasonally. It’s not about shopping at Whole Foods or making a point. It’s just that much yummier.

Pick something at the garden. Eat it right then and there.

West Coast Summer Gardening

Over the past few months, thanks to Mae Humiston, my fabulous visit to the rolling green hills of Virginia, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and the conclusion of two years of living off of TUDS industrial kitchens, I have developed a desire to get my own hands all soiled up. Literally.

Back home in the Bay Area, I searched out sustainable farming and gardening opportunities and stumbled across Full Circle Farms.¬†Upon a quick GoogleMap search, it turned out that this wonderful farm turned out to be right next to one of my favorite spots for nighttime strolls! I have walked by the 11-acre plot a half-dozen times over the past year and since it obviously isn’t lit at night (can’t mess up those short-day plants!), I had no idea of the treasures buried on the other side of the chain-link fence.

I went to their open farm volunteering day last Sunday, hoping to learn a bit more about, well, everything. Interest in agriculture does not equal aptitude- just ask my said little planters outside. I started out weeding the single row of corn (Pollan would be proud), and later moved on to helping plant zucchini. The unusual June rains had left the air heavy with humidity, but being outside in the warm weather, chatting with new people, and the dirt under my fingernails felt as right as anything possibly could.