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Savoring the Seasons

Savoring the Seasons: The real cost of food

By MARY MCCLINTOCK

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone say “Local food is great, but it costs too much. I can’t afford it.”

It’s true, locally grown food sometimes has a higher retail price than food shipped from far away. But when I think about food prices, I consider “costs” we don’t always see. What are the human and environmental costs of cheap food? Who really “pays” for our cheap food?

Then I read an article by Eric Holt Gimenez of Food First. In “Too Poor for Organic? Raise the Minimum Wage,” Gimenez asks an even more basic question: Why do we need cheap food?

His answer stopped me in my tracks: “The simple answer is that cheap food helps to keep wages down.” Even with cheap food, low wages mean there are almost 50 million people in the U.S. who are “food insecure.”

What can we do to change that insecurity? An important step is raising the minimum wage.

Last week, the Massachusetts Senate passed a bill to raise our state’s minimum wage. Now, that bill is before the House. Meanwhile, Congress is considering legislation to raise the federal minimum wage.

While we work to create livable wages for everyone, we need to help people who are hungry and support local farmers. Today, the Franklin County Community Meal Program’s free dinner at 5:30 p.m. at the Second Congregational Church in Greenfield, will include lots of food, including turkey donated by Diemand Farm.

Tomorrow from noon to 3 p.m., The Peoples Pint will serve a “pay-what-you-can” Thanksgiving dinner featuring food donated by local farmers. Profits from that meal will go to the Food Bank of Western Mass.

And, every Saturday, Stone Soup Café at All Souls Church in Greenfield serves a “pay-what-you-can” meal. See www.stonesoupgreenfield.org.

In this season of gratitude and generosity, let’s help create a world where we each can earn a living wage, pay what we can, and savor locally grown food.

This Week We’re Eating…

SWEET POTATO DINNER ROLLS

By Lydia Oppegard, Greeley, Colo.

2 T. active dry yeast or 1 1/2 T. instant yeast

1/4 C. granulated sugar

1/2 C. warm water, or 1/4 C. each warm water and warm milk

3 T. butter

11/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

3 large eggs

31/2 to 4 C. All-Purpose Flour

1/2 C. mashed sweet potato, yam, squash, pumpkin, or potato

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let sit for 10 minutes. Melt butter and let it cool. Add cooled butter, salt, cinnamon, eggs, flour, and mashed vegetable to yeast mixture, stirring to blend; dough will be slack. Beat with flat beater of electric mixer, or stir by hand, for about 5 minutes. Place dough in well-greased bowl, turning to coat all sides, and cover with plastic wrap; or scoop into large, well-oiled plastic bag, sealing bag near the top. Refrigerate dough 8 hours, or overnight. Next day, remove dough from refrigerator, and place on lightly floured surface. Divide into 24 pieces, rolling each piece into a ball. If it’s overly sticky, rub your hands with oil. Place rolls in lightly greased large, round pan — a 14-inch deep-dish pizza pan — or two lightly greased 9-inch cake pans. Set aside to rise for 3 hours, or until rolls fill pan. Bake rolls in preheated 375°F oven for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Yield: 24 rolls.

CORRECTION

Apologies for the missing line in last week’s soup recipe (The Recorder’s pagination program hiccuped). Here it is:

“Roll the balls lightly in flour, then drop into boiling broth and simmer for at least 10-15 minutes.”

Jeanne Dodge said it’s like matzo-ball soup and from the same area in Europe – Trentino, Italy, in the Alps.

Find the whole recipe at http://www.recorder.com/lifetimes/9394891-95/preparing-for-winter.

Find recipes from previous columns at www.recorder.com/lifetimes.

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