my little rebellion (smoky eggplant dip)

Last week Slate reported that the USDA did some serious backpedaling after an internal suggestion to employees to eat less meat.

Here's what the USDA initally suggested to its emplyees:

"One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias is to participate in the ‘Meatless Monday’ initiative. How will going meatless one day of the week help the environment? The production of meat, especially beef (and dairy as well), has a large environmental impact. According to the U.N., animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources. It takes 7,000 kg of grain to make 1,000 kg of beef. In addition, beef production requires a lot of water, fertilizer, fossil fuels, and pesticides. In addition there are many health concerns related to the excessive consumption of meat."

After immediate pushback from law-makers and Big Ag, the USDA told the New York Times that it in fact does not support the Meatless Monday initiative, that the suggestion was posted without proper clearance.

Is it cynical of me to say that it's no surprise to see that once again, deep pockets define truth in Washington?

I don't have a clue how to change that, and I probably won't try.

But I do believe (unlike some) that food choices are moral choices. That's not to say they are something to judge our neighbors about, or that they're clear-cut, straightforward moral choices {full disclosure: we drove through for fast food just last week}, but they are choices with moral significance. In what we choose to eat, we are making a statement about how we care for the world and its resources, how we care for our bodies, and how we think about our neighbors.  In what we choose to eat, we can remind ourselves that the earth cannot support our excess, and that others pay for our careless extravagence.

"It is not indignation that will change the world but instead a quiet resolve to do discipline in the home," as my friend DL wrote last week.

This is our third summer as members at Victory Acres, where we buy eggs and recieve a weekly basket of fresh vegetables. As CSA members, we support a local farm which offers good work and good food to our community. It's a small step.

We've also been on the meatless monday bandwagon for the last eighteen months, another small step towards joyful sustainability.  We want our food choices to reflect our respect for the earth, our commitment to sustainable practises, our awareness of the hungry around the world, and - most of all - our deep gratitude to the giver of all good gifts.

I'm often restless, wondering if I'm settling into a complacent middle class life.  Cultivating a strong local community, beauty, respect, gratitude, creativity, and awareness of world hunger are ways to help me be less complacent here; they are part of my little rebellion.

This week I've been craving Cambodian food, and cooking from my Mith Samlanh cookbook. There are a couple of vegetables we get in our CSA that I don't really love, to be honest.  Eggplant is one of them.  Its texture kind of grosses me out.  But this smoky eggplant dip from the Mith Samlanh restaurant in Phnom Penh is fabulous.

Make it.
Friends' Famous Smoky Eggplant Dip
(adapted slightly)
4 japanese eggplants
4 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp diced tomatoes

Grill the eggplant until blackened. Once cool, peel off the burned skin and dice.  Combine all ingredients but tomato in blender and process until smooth.  Top with the tomatoes, a glug of olive oil, and fresh ground pepper. 

Serve with fresh bread.