Monday, July 1, 2013

Why Dirty Food is Good Food

I love salads.

For those of you who may not know, this is a new development. Last year - our first CSA - I was over  the leafy greens by box number 3. Salads were boring and obnoxious to assemble for so little reward - healthy, but not worth it. I'd rather have had a bowl full of lima beans.

(That's totally an exaggeration. I will never want a bowl full of lima beans.)

I think the reason I disliked salads so much last year was the cleaning process. The great thing about fresh veggies all summer long is that they're picked in the field mere hours before arriving at your door, chosen lovingly by a farmer who is battling things like flash flooding and windstorms - and therefore, dirt and sand. But I wasn't used to using more than a dash of water to clean leaves, and I didn't really have the means to do it well.

Don't get me wrong. I love that my food comes to me with a little dirt on it. It speaks to the freshness, to the recent close contact with the earth and each item's careful (or harried) harvest. I recently tried to buy potatoes from the grocery store and I was terrified to find little red tubers without a spot of dirt or single grain of sand. Maybe they've always looked like that in the store and I never noticed, but it's just wrong. Something that grew in the dirt but looks that smooth and clean in the store must have had unspeakable acts of cleanliness performed on it with a dozen bottles of laboratory-wrought solution approved by a  mad scientist.

Clean potatoes are evil potatoes.

By that logic, dirty salad is heavenly salad. So this year, I broke down and spent $25 on one of these.

This tiny salad spinner has been a lifesaver. I use the bowl itself to swish the leaves around in water, and I'm amazed at the sand that collects on the bottom. I spin the leaves (which has yet to get old), and I have a salad ready to eat, thanks to my farmer's wonderfully assembled salad mixes. I also love throwing in sorrel, milkweed pods, some red pepper, and a pinch of cheese (this is Wisconsin, doncha know). I've had salad for lunch every day since starting the CSA, and I don't think I'm going back to yogurt anytime soon.

Thank goodness. I'm so over yogurt.

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