Let me start by saying that the coming of spring, and the subsequent opening of farm stands and farmer's markets has renewed my conviction to go as organically and locally grown as is possible on my penny-pinching food-stamp budget, yet still eat beautiful, healthy, vegan food.
First, my rant: We all know GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms) are in some of the food we eat and probably aren't good for us. The more I've read, the more disturbed I've been about the loopholes that allow it to go un-regulated and the proven higher risks for children. Never mind the studies that show GMOs are introducing serious new allergens into foods and contributing to the spread of antibiotic resistance.
Unfortunately, unless you are eating an all organic diet, you are probably consuming far more GMOs then you realize (about 75 percent of the food in the supermarket contains GMOs). Even more unfortunately, those GMOs are probably hurting you more than you think. In fact, some countries consider them so bad they are completely banned from the country (and we have them in 70 percent of our food? Are we crazy? No - don't answer that).
The solution? Eat organic. The problem? In my little backwoods town, ("farming community" though it might be) there are few resources for organic produce, less for affordable organic options.
Yet one more reason I've begun to haunt the co-op, local road-side stands and farmers markets for local, organic and often wild-grown foods as much as my budget allows. This brings me to today's beautiful little ingredient: Wild fiddlehead ferns from my OWN BACKYARD!! Yes. Ferns. This little delicacy is found in the woods and along streams banks, and they are just starting to pop up this month. I saw them at the co-op (for a pretty price) and thought they looked mighty familiar, so following a lot of research and a hunch, I was delighted when I took some samples in to the co-op last week and they confirmed the little shoots in my backyard are indeed the edible variety from ferns. (As they reminded me - it's worth remembering that fully leafed-out fern fronds are actually toxic, use JUST the tightly coiled heads).
What a sweet little discovery! More than just their culinary (and monetary) value, I feel that wild food is on the opposite spectrum of genetically modified food. Wild food isn’t even cultivated, but simply needs to be gathered (and yes, they are generally very high in nutrients). On the other hand, genetically modified food took not only a lot of cultivation, pesticides and other "messing around with" by humans, but also required a scientist to create it in the first place. GMO’s are the scientific world's answer to nature’s natural resources.
My backyard isn't totally untouched and certified organic, it's just a field with brambles, weeds and a couple garden beds. But I don't use chemicals and we're not in the path of any run-off or toxic neighbors. Not perfect but I'm happy I have space to putter and play in the dirt. The fiddleheads were just an awesome spring bonus. (For more info on backyard foraging and fiddleheads in specific, check out this blog: Fat of the Land for local and wild (though not vegan) foods. This post was also inspired in a fit of jealous rage because I could not accompany my friends from Soundly Vegan who are out foraging their own wild green things today. ♥)
Anyway: My fiddlehead recipe? Nothing much, they're very simple to prepare and it's still rather inexact since the amount of fiddleheads I've cooked from time to time varies from three or four stalks to several cups...
- Blanch fiddleheads about three minutes. Rinse in cool water and rub papery skins off (if there are any).
- Set aside.
- In a saute pan, melt a little margarine over medium heat.
- Add a clove or two crushed garlic and saute for 2 minutes until garlic begins to cook but not brown.
- Add the boiled fiddleheads and a tablespoon or so of capers (if you have them) and continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes.
- Squeeze with some lemon juice and serve.