Thursday, November 15, 2012

MS On the Path to Wellness

One of the things I love/hate the most about where I live is the weather. There's no gray area here; I'm never just ambivalent about it. Either it's dear god hang me from the rafters hot or this is almost getting me high lovely. "Lovely," because it doesn't really get "cold." Just breezy, brisk, and justifying a hot chocolate for a few consecutive days.

The weather in South Mississippi is a huge deal to us. In the "fall" (which we don't really have) and the "spring" (which could come as early as January or as late as May) it's a different season every day. Literally. I've worn shorts on Christmas day after having spent all of November huddled in a ski jacket. And we discuss the weather a lot. Especially the heat. Sometimes with scorn, suggesting that this heat really should get a job or something and quit bothering us. Seriously, heat. Grow up.

The summers can be so brutal that we actually forget about them once they're over, in the same way I've heard women say they forget about the pain of childbirth. It sucks so much that our sweet little brains volunteer amnesia just so we don't ever have to revisit the experience. Of course, what that translates to is that every year we are stunned by just how hot this place gets, and we swear it has never gotten this hot before. I've lived here for 26 years and am only just starting to be skeptical of my expectations.

So now to the "love" part: we have a year-round growing season. That's right! While you couldn't harvest so much as a freezer-burned gopher from the ground in Massachusetts from mid-October until sometime in April, our only limitations are what we can plant. And we are an agricultural state! So the obesity epidemic that currently grips us is simply...inexcusable. We used to have gardens and farms. My own great-grandmother got most of her produce from her garden/the woods and kept chickens. But once the national food industry started trying to sell more cheap food to the same amount of people, a marketing campaign emerged that told country folks their way of life was backwards and shameful. Civilized people bought their food, they didn't grow it. So years of this fabulous unending growing "season" were lost! But I'm so excited to see that now it's becoming popular, if not necessary, to return to the homestead. Or at least the Farmer's Market.

One example of this shift is a great show on MPB called "Fit to Eat" that teaches cooking with local ingredients to a generation of Mississippians who are regrettably disconnected from our roots. He uses not only local produce, but local dairy/meat/poultry, and local seafood! By the way, another perk of living on the coast: fresh, right out of the water (if you care to get up that early) seafood. And yes, it is safe to eat, in spite of BP's best efforts.

I'll probably be drawing on this show a bit to post my own recipes! It's a fascinating day to be a Mississippian!

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