Last summer, I went to work for an urban farm in Portland, Ore. I’d wake at six to harvest Easter egg radishes and bike home in the sherbet-pink sunset, too damn tired to care that I was wearing my helmet over my sun hat. Everything was beautiful and hard and I was always hungry.
Balancing my Olympian-athlete-in-training appetite with a tiny budget wasn’t easy and so I had to learn not to waste a thing. The bitter leaves of turnips tasted sweeter scrambled with ripe figs; oft-discarded zucchini blossoms were heaven stuffed with a vegetable pilaf and served on my favorite plate.
Later that year, I learned about Imperfect Produce, a Bay Area-based CSA that rescues “cosmetically challenged” cuties from farms and sells them for a fraction of the supermarket cost. This creative response to massive food waste reinvigorated my desire to eat cleaner. Not “clean” as in green juice — “clean” as in minimal waste.
My idea for “closed-loop” cooking (CLC) grew organically from these experiences. I wanted to winnow the distance between my values and my actions. I wanted to eat in a way that no... Read more