A New Chesapeake Kitchen

John Shields

A New Chesapeake Kitchen


A new eating trend that has recently become all the rage is really the oldest method for recipe planning and cooking: using seasonal foods. Simply put it means using fresh food grown in your region during the season in which it is grown. If there is too much of one crop being harvested, you preserve the surplus and by doing so, you supplement your recipes/meals during the winter months. (See Puttin’ It Up – baltimore eats, August, 2007.) Studies have found that using seasonal foods in one’s diet helps the body gain maximum nutritional benefits. And purchasing seasonal foods is not only good for you; it is good for the local economy and local communities.  A climate is created for folks who want to continue or return to farming, and for those who want to begin, thus reducing the acrerage available to urban sprawl. And by shopping locally we begin to reconnect with others in our communities and thus the daily task of purchasing food becomes more social and enjoyable.


So how does this kind of mindset and behavior affect our environment? When we take time to prepare our meals with care and understand how food nurtures us, we cannot help but develop a heightened awareness of our natural environment. It’s all connected. Look at the Chesapeake Bay region. For us locals it is our lifeblood – we are blessed with a region rich in seafood and local producers of naturally and humanely raised animals, artisan food crafters, organically and traditionally grown produce and fruit. Just by using these wonderful local, seasonal treasures, we become constantly aware of the Chesapeake and our common link to it.


I regard the Chesapeake as our communal soup pot. When creating a delicious meal for loved ones, what kind of cook would pour dirty motor oil or pesticides into the soup pot? I hope not, but when we put blinders on and believe our day-to-day actions are not the same as mixing these types of toxins into our soup pots, we are sadly mistaken. Again, this awareness is paramount, and we can begin in our own kitchens, stores, local farmers’ markets, and in our own backyard vegetable gardens. (See Victory Gardens — baltimore eats, October, 2007.)


All around Baltimore, the Chesapeake region, and the whole country, communities and organizations are forming as people come together, join hands, hearts, and minds, and say: “No More! We will not allow the monetary interests of big business to destroy our precious natural resources, and ultimately, the fabric of our lives.”


To quote William Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation: “Restoring the Bay [sic: and our communities] is possible only if we do not limit ourselves to pursing that which can be easily achieved. Success will come if we set our sights high and work cooperatively. Anything less will be over whelmed by the crush of population growth. History may record that a well-meaning, but ultimately timid society, lost the Chesapeake Bay in the last decade of the twentieth century. Or it can be written that the Bay was saved. The choice is ours.” Many of those choices are made in our Chesapeake kitchens. Now let’s do some cooking, living and loving, in our New Chesapeake Kitchen.


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