The Perennial Plate: An Exercise in Sustainable Food

picture-12Sustainable food is super trendy these days, and we're all the better for it. Forerunners like Michael Pollan or Eric Schlosser have helped create a movement of sustainable food considerations in which a person might set up a list of parameters and follow through just for the experience of doing it. Such is the case of The Perennial Plate.

In a series of experiments, chef and activist, Daniel Klein has created the "Harvest Dinner" series, cited as, "a meal that celebrates what is in season... every two weeks we will be serving a multi-course dinner of creative, affordable and sustainable food.  The events take place at a nearby farm or in Daniel's home and are a great way to get to know your farmer, your neighbor and the creators of the show.  Money from the Harvest Dinners benefit The Perennial Plate series."

<iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/10886216" width="400" height="225" frameborder="0"></iframe><p><a href="http://vimeo.com/10886216">The Perennial Plate Episode 4: A Winter Harvest Dinner at Two Pony Gardens</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user3088064">Daniel Klein</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>

Fourth in the series, the Winter Harvest Dinner hosted at Two Pony Gardens, celebrates all that is local in the deep freeze of Minnesota's famously cold winter featuring sheeps' milk ricotta from Star Thrower Farm, pheasant, grouse and duck and microgreens which appeared to be harvested from an indoor garden. Nice.

The dinners have a $50 price tag on them, but for a catered dinner it's still considered inexpensive. And though not everyone would opt to eat at a catered dinner, the point is still the same: it isn't always as expensive as it might seem to eat locally and seasonally all year round.

Consider that an entire dinner for four can come out of one sugar pumpkin, which while in season is usually about $2. Microgreens can be grown in a window year-round; high quality local cheese can be sourced for anywhere between $4-5 a chunk (maybe a half pound); two loaves of bread can be baked at home for less than half the cost of a candy bar. A family of four can eat a nutritionally sound, locally produced, ethically raised vegetarian meal for well under $3/person and a little preparing. Adding meat may only increase the cost by a dollar or two.

The fact is that eating should be a celebration, not  simply a ritual. As we move forward into the next wave of foodie trends, I look forward to seeing sustainable food permeate a larger mass culture, giving food the respect it deserves in our homes and in our lives. Sustainable food has never tasted so good!

Photo credit: video still from the Perennial Plate

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