Recently, a friend wrote, "I made that rosemary lamb dish you do, but it didn't taste quite the same." She was referring to one of my famous shortcut meals: Rosemary Lamb Pinwheels, prepared by New Season's Market, mixed baby green salad from a bag, sliced fruit of the season and jasmine rice. It made me miss the grocery stores of Portland.

Being new to Nashville, it is almost impossible to find what is readily available in Portland: Fresh, organic vegetables that look and taste good at a close-to-conventional price point. In fact, I have been searching for any decent tasting orange or tangerine (organic or conventional) since October 15. The only decent quality produce here?

  • Green beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Collard and mustard greens
  • Sometimes lettuce
  • Onions

Some "local hippies" are trying to solve this problem by forcing their opinions on the local people, according to a post I found on Tiny Cat Pants:

On Tuesday night, I was at a meeting for this group of crazed hippies who
have this insane notion that you can change the fortune of whole
communities, not by coming in and deciding from on-high what those
communities need and imposing it, but by listening to the problems the
people in the community describe having and providing them with the training
and resources to solve their own problems.

I don't feel like I do much more than sit quietly and listen, since it all focuses a lot on community health, which means it's mostly medical students, doctors, and nurses*
talking about these projects. But I feel honored to be there.

One project they've been working on are setting up fresh produce markets in
parts of Nashville that don't have grocery stores. They call them "food deserts" these areas that are highly populated by folks who don't have regular access to transportation and don't have grocery stores within easy walking distance or on convenient bus routes**.

Sure, it'd be great if everyone chose to be healthy and buy lots of great produce and, believe me, I miss being able to buy good fruit, a thing you can't even find in Greenhills at Wild Oats, but will people buy it?

Aunt B continues:

... the woman giving the presentation said some very interesting stuff which
may pertain. Tennessee has a (word censored by Nicole Sauce - no offense, it starts with sh)-ton of poor people, many of whom are 'food insecure,' ... I should have written this down, but I think she said that one in four Tennesseans has missed at least one meal in the past year because they had no food. And yet, we rank extra high on the amount of obese people we have, too.

... though it seems on the surface, impossible, research bears it out
that, in America, the hungrier the population, the fatter. ... she thinks
it's that, when you are very hungry, the quickest, cheapest food is exactly the
food that's the worst for you...

And so, she thinks, people get into this cycle of not having enough money to
eat or to eat well and they get money, they rush out and buy junk food, load up
on it, and then have a period of not eating or not eating well again.

As an aside on the topic of nutrition for the food insecure, a free-market think tank in Oregon found research that found the following. Interesting to note that food insecure score higher on the nutrition points scale than the food secure.

Recent studies show that many households labeled food-insecure by the
have above-average levels of nutrient availability, even when household income is low.

One such study, Food Stamp Participants Food Security and Nutrient Availability
(USDA, 1999), ... An unexpected finding was, “food insecure households
tend, other things equal, to have higher levels of nutrient availability than households that are food secure

In addition to theoretical food stands (I have never seen one), there are various festivals and the farmer's market and more resources through fellow bloggers than a new-comer can find by driving around:

But one thing that doesn't get much comment is the quality of the fruits and vegetables. A coworker and recent transplant agreed with me that the produce quality is poorer here than from her previous locale. My narrow experience with oranges, for example, has simply added to my fruit basket about 25 orange fruits that are juicy on one side and dry on the other. How do they DO that? Half dry oranges? Isn't Florida just around the corner?

Alas, with the latest hope centering on the coming of Whole Foods and perhaps helpful tips from other bloggers, my Rosemary Pinwheel Days are on hold.

But the onions here are great. And onions are easy to Caramelize:

  1. Slice or dice the onions
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on high until it sizzles when you splash a drop of water in it.
  3. Reduce heat to med-high and toss in the onions, saute them until they are golden brown. This takes at least 5 minutes, sometimes more depending on your range's power and the frying pan you choose.
  4. Cook as normal with the onions.

If you are lucky enough to be able to buy pinwheels, you just toss them into the onion mix after the onions caramelize, brown the meat, add 1/2 cup red wine and simmer until the meat is done. Serve the wheels with the caramelized onion wine sauce poured over it.