column by Cheryl Hahn – Virginian Pilot, March 14, 2009
Everyone’s Irish and everything’s green on St Patty’s Day! Green hair, green beer and green food are common traditions, so why not take “green” to the next level?
Many people celebrate the holiday cooking at home for friends and family, singing Irish songs with pots of steaming ham and cabbage, and of course lots of beer. Unfortunately, most of the produce in our supermarkets is heavily sprayed with pesticides, picked months in advance, stored in freezers with added preservatives, and shipped thousands of miles, before finally reaching our local grocery store. Lucky for us, Hampton Road’s folks have the opportunity to buy the Irish fixin’s right here locally. Smithfield Virginia hams are readily available in many stores, and a quick trip to the local farmer’s market provides plenty of choices for greener menu selections.
I went to Five Points Farmer’s Market in Norfolk and found locally-grown fresh cabbage, potatoes, green beans and green eggs. The Peace & Plenty Farm in North Carolina has chickens that produce eggs with a green shell which puts a literal spin on the green eggs and ham menu. “Farmer’s use St. Patrick’s Day as the day to begin planting”, says Bev Sell, general manager of the market, which is located in an open-air warehouse not far from the Norfolk Zoo. Some of the food and produce comes from the Carolinas, Pennsylvania and Florida, all located on the eastern seaboard and much closer than Idaho, California or China. “Virginia has a few microbreweries as well”, Sell continues, “and we’re hoping to someday offer locally-produced wine and beer at the market.” Well, I’m all for products made in Virginia, so I’ll drink to that.
Choosing local food and drink supports our local economy while reducing our carbon-footprint and it’s healthier because small family farms don’t spray their crops with highly-toxic pesticides. And if you really don’t care about any of those things, then maybe taste will convince you because locally-produced food is fresh and yummy. According to Irish lore, there’s a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow. If we all follow our local rainbow, we’ll find a glowing pot of great products made right here in Virginia. Greener, cleaner, healthier choices support both our local communities and our environment. I can already see the Irish eyes a-smiling with our good fortune. Cheers to everyone… and may the green be with you!
Cheryl Hahn, is the founder of Norfolk-based business “Organic Comfort Zone”, manufacturers of organic bedding and “Tomorrow’s World”, one of America’s first eco-stores. For more information visit www.organiccomfortzone.com or call 757-480-8500.