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Just a quick and simple post today, to share my go-to lunch.

I make this about two or three times a week for most of the year.  Starting with a layer of chickpeas on the bottom of the bowl, I add tomatoes, then bell peppers, and cucumbers on top.  This way the chickpeas marinate a bit in the dressing, and the cucumbers don’t get soggy because they’re on top.  This helps particularly when I am making it ahead of time, and it is perfectly delicious when I am finally ready to eat it.  I pour on some olive oil, followed by lemon juice, fresh if I can, bottled if necessary.  I use roughly equal quantities of both, but never measure, and I tweak to taste. Usually I use oregano, since this is essentially a Greek salad, but this week I have a beautiful bundle of fresh basil from my last trip to the market, so I am using that instead.  It is wonderful.  The final, and most joyous, ingredient is Feta cheese from Foxhill Cheese House. Their Feta is the best I have ever tasted!  No matter how much extra I buy in an attempt to not run out, I inevitably do, at which point it’s time to take a break from the salad, because grocery store Feta just doesn’t compare.

 I recently went away with a friend who is quite culinarily skilled, and made this for easy lunches and snacks.  I had not cooked for him much before and was a little unsure what he would think, but I received high praise for it that weekend, and again since.  Success!

Here is the salad, all nicely put together before the mixing begins.  Below is my attempt to show the layers, though it’s not a great picture.

Depending on availability and seasonality I have made this with carrots, radishes, mushrooms, greens, and cauliflower, in various combinations including the vegetables listed above.  It has always been good enough that I want to make more again very soon.

~ Lily

Hello.  Nice to meet you.

My name is Lily, and I have a story to tell about how I decided to become a farmer.  Of course, I’m not one yet, and if I understand anything about my life, it’s that it changes without my permission or prior notice.  I love stories though, so please, let me tell you this one.  If you like it, you can come back for more.  Yes.  I promise.

I suppose I could go way, way back, and talk about my early days living next to farms.  Or about my parent’s friends who farmed, and how I felt naturally like my life should be that way too.  Or about stories I grew up with about family members who farmed, back in the day.  My grandmother particularly.  Or about when I was older, and thought that I might like to be a farmer, but was unanimously discouraged. There is no money in farming. It’s not a good life, too much stress, governments … the explanations faded into what sounded like the language Charlie Brown’s teachers spoke.  Not a good life on a farm? Hm.

Instead, I will talk about one morning last winter when I was drinking my coffee while scanning through my newsfeed on Facebook, and noticed an advertisement for a documentary and information session.  The film was called “Grow!” and the session was called “To Grow a Farmer”, sponsored by ACORN.  I knew I had to go see it.  I immediately switched tabs, entered the time and date into my calendar, and carried on with my day.  As the time grew nearer, I learned that  Vandana Shiva was to be at Dalhousie University presenting a talk on food security, women, and farming.  I felt that same knowing in my bones that I must be there as well.  This was February in Halifax.  Metro Transit was on strike, and I no longer had a car.  Not living on the peninsula, the walk took me about an hour and a half.  It was a crisp but sunny day, and as long as I was walking, not too cold.  I found the place and settled in.  I just may have found my future.  The movie was inspiring, and hopeful.  There are a lot of people on this earth and we all need to eat.  A lot of the food on this planet is corrupted, lacking in nutritional integrity, and farmers are the only ones who can save us. Rock on!

After the presentation was over a reporter from the Chronicle Herald came to ask me a few questions.  I answered them as well as I could, as my mind spun with all the new information I just discovered, the buzz of excitement and energy filling me.  Then he asked me my name.  I didn’t tell him.  I have a job, one that I liked and that was as stable and secure as any in today’s world could be.  I didn’t want any of my bosses to read in the paper that I was throwing it in to turn farmer.  At least not until I had a plan.

A couple hours later I was at Vandana Shiva’s talk.  If you have never attended one of her presentations, and you get the chance, go.  I learned that in India there are over 200,000 varieties of rice! Rice! Biodiversity is a much larger force to be reckoned with than I realized.  I learned that women naturally pick up the labour intensive farm work, sometimes because they have no choice.  Doing this, they form communities.  They work together.  They know and grow with each other and each other’s children.  I was fabulously inspired by her talk, both by the aspects that were exotic enough that they may never have anything to do with my life, and by those aspects I hoped I would live and breathe for the rest of my life.

After all this excitement, I discovered that it got colder outside and had started snowing.  I stopped on my walk home at my favourite sushi place, the Wasabi House, and had some spicy miso soup, gyoza, and delicious sushi.  My mind was abuzz, and I was trying to type out my thoughts on my iPhone as I sipped and slurped, and waited for more.  I must have looked like I was having a mad texting session.  Folks, I was abuzz like this for days.  Actually, I’m not sure it ever stopped.  I think I just acclimated.  I spoke to some friends about what steps they took to make major life changes, career changes.  I started doing research.  And more research.  I placed suggestions for purchase at the library to purchase books I wanted to read, but they didn’t have.  I did this often.  I brought books home, read the ones I could, skimmed the rest, returned the ones I was done with, renewed the ones I wasn’t done with, and when that wasn’t possible, placed them back on hold and brought them home again.

This is where I am today.  I am still reading.  I have “liked” and “friended” Farmer’s Markets, local farmers, ACORN Atlantic, farms through both Canada and the United States, Information and Activist groups.  Local restaurants who source locally farmed, natural, clean food.  Organizations who promote and advocate for infrastructure and legislation that relates to clean, healthy, traditional, biologically farmed food.  I started a Twitter account with a focus on doing more of the same.  I read the tweets, the posts, and try to stay on top of everything I can.  I look up the books and bring them home from the library.  I read articles.  When someone calls or texts me wondering what I am doing, my first response is to feel somewhat guilty, abashed; I want to say “nothing”.  But I am doing something.  I am researching my future.  What better way for me to spend my spare time than doing that?

There certainly is a lot more to this story.  Thanks for joining me on my first post.  I will post more about what I am doing now, what I have been doing, what I have been reading, and about the little spaces in between.  I hope you keep coming back for more.

~Lily

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