Reciplease! Keep it real with a strawberry basil cocktail

recipleaselogoLast week, the strawberries arrived in my backyard.

This week, they’re almost gone.

We don’t have many, and what I didn’t turn into sorbet or cram into my mouth while turning the rest into sorbet were scavenged by the birds.

So, no more hyperlocal strawberries. That’s okay. Plenty of local farms still have plenty of local strawberries, and grocery stores will have them for a while after that.

This isn’t a downgrade. In conscientious eating, there are no downgrades if you live by one simple standard: Eat what feels right to eat.

I had this thought while making dinner last weekend. I had backyard radishes, broccoli and cilantro, market-purchased sweet onions and mushrooms, and store-bought soy ground beef, sharp cheddar, tortillas and taco seasoning.

I’d be embarrassed to blog this, I thought.

Then, why?

In answer to myself – what, you don’t talk to yourself while you’re cooking? — I said, because it isn’t all local.

But so what?

I suppose because I’m a pescatarian – a vegetarian who still consumes fish – I’ve encountered vegetarian food snobbery before. And vegetarians encounter it with vegans, and vegans encounter it with raw diet foodies, and raw diet foodies who don’t eat purely organic are just ridiculous, right?

Wrong.

Eat what feels right to eat. Labels are just so we can find each other and trade recipes, not so we can exclude each other for eating meat or non-organic apples.

I looked at the rainbow of deliciousness on my bamboo cutting board and thought how great it was that even a little bit of it came from less than 10 yards away. Then I took a break from chopping to scoop some of that sorbet right out of the recycled pint carton I’d smashed it into and thought about how that same pint in a grocery store would’ve cost me $5 – which is $5 more than I spent making it.

Then I thought about money, and how often I’ve said, and heard people say, “I’d eat purely organic/local/fair trade/free range/cruelty-free, if I could afford it.”

The point of encouraging people to eat local isn’t to break your budget, shame you away from grocery shopping or impose limitations. If anything, it’s to open doors (or, rather, farm gates).

The point is to get people to see what’s edible and growing all around them.

If half of what’s on your plate is locally sourced, good for you. If a third of it is, good for you. Every little bit of buying and eating local helps small farmers, local economies and our health. You do what you can.

Eat what feels right to eat, and don’t tolerate food snobbery.

And if you’re still stressed about it, sit outside and sip on this hyperlocal (or not!) cocktail.

With or without alcohol, how refreshing does this look? Photo by Flickr user shutterbean.

With or without alcohol, how refreshing does this look? Photo by Flickr user shutterbean.

Strawberry basil margaritas (recipe courtesy of The Kitchn)

  • 1 12-oz can frozen limeade concentrate (reuse can to measure water)
  • 10-12 strawberries, greens and stems removed, sliced lengthwise
  • 8 basil leaves, bruised
  • 2-2 ½ cups tequila (optional; add more water, or sparkling water,  if you omit)

Pour limeade into a large pitcher, followed by 2 ½ cans of water and up to 2 ½ cups of tequila. Add strawberries and basil and cover for at least four hours, or overnight.

There you go – just enough “local” to ease your conscience, and just enough “grocery store” to keep it real.

Where to get strawberries: I drive by Blevins Fruit Farm every day. I haven’t stopped in for strawberries yet because until a few days ago, I had my own. But the Blevins sign says they have strawberries at the moment — plus lots of other seasonal fruits and veggies — so I plan to check them out this weekend. Blevins is at 16222 W. Liberty Rd., Stewartstown.

Stacia M. Fleegal

York Daily Record multiplatform journalist. Degrees in creative writing from Lycoming College and Spalding University, and a coupla books with my name on them. Central PA native who came home after floating around for a while, but always grounded by words and the places and people I remember.

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