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Veggie Love is the Future of our Food

Goat Cheese, Celery and Avocado Sandwich with Walnut Butter and Arugula

Veggie Love. Real true veggie love. That’s what the future holds. It has to if we plan to feed the planet and free ourselves of the food idiosyncrasies that plague our generation. Idiosyncrasies that probably developed because the food supply we depend on has become all messed up.

When I say veggie love I don’t mean that we should all become vegetarians. Vegetarianism, one could argue, is one of the idiosyncratic reactions to the food that passes for mainstream fare in the modern world. Meaning vegetarianism is a lifestyle choice. A very good choice for a lot of people. A lot of rich people. Developing countries don’t have the option of choosing a culinary lifestyle. There has to be a broader answer to the problem.

So how did we get here? I’d argue, economics. The cost of producing and procuring food is rising at an alarming rate. Even (and especially) in North America. The soaring prices are not a temporary spike caused by a run on rice in India or the massive over planting of corn in America. These are real world prices correcting themselves after generations of cheap food, the result of the American agriculture industry run amok. Especially the meat industry.

For almost a century America was the envy of the world. New immigrants arrived to a country where it seemed that meat grew on trees. The culture reacted. Pretty soon Americans were having meat at every meal, which created demand. The natural reaction to greater demand in market economics is higher prices. But somehow that’s not what happened. Instead of raising prices (and losing customers) the American agriculture industry increased supply. In the short run this seemed like the win/win solution. The American government even enabled this false economy through subsidies and regulations designed to keep the machine churning out product. Well, common sense tells you that the only way a cycle like that can continue is to keep lowering the quality of the product. So now we’re at a really ugly place. An artificially induced place that is unsustainable.

Veggie Love

It’s all very depressing. We could wallow in the hopelessness of it, or we could support veggie love over vegetarianism. Which is my way of summing up the philosophy of Alice Waters. Food is not to be taken for granted. Even food that really does grow on trees comes at a cost. Veggie love means knowing where your food comes from. It means buying food from farmers who are doing things the right way. It’s far more complicated than merely buying local and organic, eschewing GMOs or going vegan. These philosophies can be part of the solution for individuals, but we need commerce, scale and sensible production to feed the world. To me the broader solution means developing attitudes about food that are more nineteenth century than modern age fad. This is true for greens and for grains– for melons and for meat.

I believe that the proliferation of people adopting outlandish diets with marketable names is the result of a population that realizes something is wrong– but is paralyzed by the commerce machine when it comes to fixing what’s broken. So rather than looking at the source they look at the self. “If I just don’t eat those things, or if I only eat these things– not only will I be healthy but I’ll be happy. Because I will be in control”. It’s a natural reaction to something so much larger than the individual, but it won’t feed the planet and it won’t change anything. Veggie Love is the first step towards progress.

Instead of twisting ourselves into gluten-free knots, we should look at the way people ate before so many of us became intolerant of the food we need to survive. There was a time when hunting wasn’t about trophies, it was about meat. Nose to tail weren’t buzzwords– they were sensible reactions to scarcity. Kitchen gardens weren’t chicly designed into multi-million dollar homes– they popped up wherever a small patch of ground allowed.

In order to change the quality of the worldwide supply of food, our first world plates need to look drastically different. We need to develop veggie love. Our plates need to be heavier on grains and greens. Meats shouldn’t sit at the center of every plate at every meal. Meat has a place in our food supply, a much smaller much more sustainable place. I know these changes are hard, especially on the scale we need to move forward. I look at my own choices and see how difficult the changes are. I’m often swayed by impossibly cheap prices. But once enough people change the way their plates look, large scale demand will change. Once demand changes the supply will follow suit. Economics will prevail and the quality of our food will get better. I know it will. GREG

veggie love

Veggie Love, Goat Cheese, Celery and Avocado Sandwich with Walnut Butter and Arugula

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Slightly adapted from Tom Colocchio & Sisha OrtuzarPublished
Celery, Avocado & Goat Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 2 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (divided, plus more for seasoning)
  • 1 tablespoon sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 cup walnuts (lightly toasted)
  • ¼ cup walnut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 8 slice whole grain multigrain bread
  • 5 ounce fresh goat cheese (at room temperature)
  • 2 stalks celery (sliced crosswise into ¼” slices)
  • 2 cup baby arugula leaves (loosely packed)
  • 1 ripe avocado (halved, pitted, peeled, and sliced)
  • 1 pinch freshly cracked black pepper (or to taste)

Directions

Make the vinaigrette: In a bowl, combine the oil, lemon juice, shallots, and 2 teaspoons salt and whisk until the vinaigrette emulsifies. Add the rosemary sprig, cover, and set aside for 1 hour. Remove the rosemary before using. This recipe makes more than you need for the sandwiches. It keeps well if refrigerated for up to 1 week. Makes about 2 cups.

Make the walnut butter: Place the toasted walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and process them until they become sticky or paste-like. It takes a good minute or so for the nuts to release their oils and you may need to scrape the sides of the bowl. Be diligent. Add the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and red pepper (if using). Add the oil, a little bit at a time until the walnut butter binds together. You might not use all the oil. Use your judgement. This recipe makes more than you need for the sandwiches. Store covered in the refrigerator. Please note that the shelf life in of homemade nut butter is shorter compared to commercial brands.

Make the sandwiches: Lay the bread slices on a work surface. Divide the goat cheese in 4 equal portions; spread each portion onto 4 slices bread.

In a small bowl, toss the celery in 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette; season with pepper. Place the celery on top of the goat cheese. Add the arugula to the bowl used to dress the celery and toss with 1 more tablespoon vinaigrette. Top the celery with avocado slices; season with salt then follow with the dressed arugula.

Spread about 1 heaping tablespoon (or more to taste) walnut butter evenly over the 4 remaining bread slices. Use these to close the sandwiches; cut into halves, and serve.