Grocery shopping can be complicated when you’re trying to make ethical choices. You’re faced with a lot of difficult questions: Is it better to buy the organically grown blueberries trucked across the country from California or the conventionally grown apples from a local farm in Western Massachusetts? In my case, the more vexing question is ‘Why did you freaking move away from the organic AND local food paradise of San Francisco in the first place? But I digress.
Organic, Conventional, or Local? Knowing Your Options
I’m visiting my parents in Boston and decided to make a fruit tart dessert for a family brunch. I headed to Whole Foods, the closest grocery store with both organic and local produce options. No matter how you feel about the chain, it’s pretty cool that all their produce is helpfully labeled as ‘organic,’ ‘conventional,’ or ‘local,’ sometimes even with a profile on the farm of origin. It makes it easier to know what you’re buying, but it can still leave you standing dazed amid the Chilean grapes and California clementines, paralyzed by the complexity of options in front of you.
Pros and Cons of Organic and Local and Making The Best of What’s Available in Season
Much has been written on the organic vs. local debate, especially by the educated and opinionated folks here at Eat.Drink.Better. There have been articles promoting local food over organic, for reasons including freshness, less pollution, support of the local economy, and more responsible land development. Other authors have written in defense of organic, questioning the usefulness of only measuring ‘food miles‘ in evaluating an item’s environmental impact. Like other bloggers here, I’m all for eating locally whenever possible. But when you’re in New England and still wearing your winter jacket in April, unfortunately it just isn’t the season to be eating locally grown fruits. I did manage to find local apples from Clark Orchards in Ashland, MA and bought some organic blueberries. Sometimes you gotta make choices based on what’s in front of you, and both options are better than tropical fruit shipped up from South America.
The Recipe (Finally) and Some Dairy-Free Adaptations
I added the local apples to this organic blueberry and yogurt tart, adapted from this recipe. And no, my tart is not as beautiful as the one from the Food & Wine test kitchen – stop judging me. It’s a quick and easy recipe that’s pretty hard to screw up, which is always a bonus in my book. It’s also very adaptable for dietary restrictions; I used margarine instead of butter for my little cousin Joshy (pictured below), who can’t have dairy, and set aside a separate dish with dairy-free coconut milk yogurt instead of Greek yogurt.
12 organic graham crackers
1/4 cup (or 1 large handful for those disinclined to measure) crystallized ginger
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons soft or melted margarine or butter
1 egg white
1 and 1/2 cups Greek yogurt (you can use coconut milk yogurt here if you want a non-dairy version)
2 tablespoons (or just a good looooong squeeze) of honey
1 and 1/2 cups organic blueberries
1 local McIntosh apple (or whatever kind of fruit you like, really)
What You Do:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Combine the graham crackers, crystallized ginger, sugar, and salt in a food processor until finely ground. You can also do this by hand (if you’re gangsta) by crumbling the graham crackers, which is sort of fun, and dicing the ginger and mixing them all together.
3. Mix in the egg white and butter and press into a greased pan. Bonus if you have the pretty fluted tart kind, but assuming you don’t live in the Food & Wine test kitchen, you can just use any pan around 14×4 inches.
4. Bake the crust until lightly browned, about 20 minutes, and let the crust cool down.
5. Mix the honey and the yogurt in a bowl and spread in the crust.
6. Thinly slice the apples and arrange the fruit over the top. Slice and eat. YUM.