Monday, June 29, 2009

Comfort Me With Billie Jean and Food from New Mexico

Like everyone else, I just wanted to spend my weekend listening to Michael Jackson songs and talking about how scared I was as a kid when I first watched the Thriller music video. And so I found myself at 1 am in the 930 Club with a few hundred people dancing to an MJ impostor. It felt good to be with others who also loved to sing his songs at the top of their lungs. Since Friday night satisfied my "one night out" quota for my weekend, I was looking forward to some downtime at Anna's just working and talking about food. With me, I brought my laptop, strawberries from Grand Mart ($1.29 per package), and some tomatoes to do some taste testing.

Since watching Food, Inc. last week, I've been doing a lot of thinking about where my food comes from (yes...the movie got to me.) For me, the hope that people shop more at Farmer's markets and buy locally produced food is ideal but just not necessarily feasible (especially for low-income families.) The only way that eating at farmers market is possible for most of us is if we:

1. Simplified our lives and planned out our meals and shopping times better
2. Ate less meat (since meat from farmer's markets is probably four times the cost of purchasing from a regular supermarket.)
3. ate less food over all.

Most of us don't even listen to our doctors or spiritual leaders so why would we listen to what a movie has to say. Some of us are barely making ends meet. Can we justify paying three times more money for food (especially if we are choosing good produce and meats over processed foods?) Please know that as much as the movie disgusted me, I left the theater feeling empowered. There are things I would like to do such as ask farmers markets to accept food stamps so that more low-income families can have access to good food. Safeway on Columbia Road has been carrying some locally grown produce so I plan to write to all the supermarkets in my area to request that they do the same. I also foresee eating a lot more produce in my future and I plan to never purchase any pork from Smithfields.

But the movie also got me thinking about the taste of food and made me question whether I even know the taste of good food. So I brought to Anna's home a tomato from the farmers market ($3.99 a lb) and a tomato from Grand Mart ($1.49 a lb). Anna and her friend James looked at the tomatoes and thought both looked good. They smelled the tomatoes and they thought the organic one smelled a little more fragrant. We cut the tomatoes open and each took a wedge. The organic tomato tasted distinctly better and was significantly more flavorful. Farmers market 1, Corporate Supermarket 0.

Anna went to the 14th and U Street farmers market that morning and got some ground beef. She decided that it was time to cook something she had learned when she lived in New Mexico. The ground beef was seasoned with cumin, salt, pepper, Mexican oregano, and some garlic powder. The ground beef was cooked until fully browned and set aside. Anna fried up some tortillas and cut up some white onions, cilantro, avocados, and lime wedges.

At the table, we assembled our tacos and each took a bite. The ground beef was full of flavor, almost like you were biting down on a piece of steak. We didn't have any store bought ground beef to compare it to but frankly, we all knew that this meat was distinctly better than any ground beef that we have purchased at a grocery store. The price for ground beef at the farmers market is $5.99 per pound. Farmers market 2, Corporate Supermarket, 0.

Anna hasn't purchased ground beef from a grocery store in awhile and has made this dish with ground turkey instead. Safeway has ground turkey on sale for $3.50 per package (about 1.3 lbs) and I gave it a try today. Not nearly as good as the ground beef but was satisfying nonetheless. Added to something I may never do again is purchasing taco seasoning packages.


  1. Yay for the organic tomato! And yay for the MJ love!

  2. Heya, nice post!

    But i must say you forgot about seasonal food. Tomatoes arent in season yet, thats prob why they are more expensive!

    I try to buy seasonal food, its cheaper (even cheaper than non-local food too), abundant, and packed with goodness.

    It's done wonders for my body too. Since it is so packed with nutrients i feel even fuller. Im off vitamins, have no cravings, and my wallet likes it too.

    Also, i liked ur inspiration from Food Inc, i wrote a piece myself about that, check it out: