Recently, I've been feeling a bit of a malaise; not about most things in my life, but certainly about this blog. As many bloggers recite, they are encouraged by followers, likes or some other indication (comments, etc) that this work, this creativity, is "worth" it. I've never wanted anything materially out of this blog - just to (hopefully) make a difference in actions or how we approach sustainability as a society. The question remains, though, as how do I know if I'm getting what I want from this blog (i.e. - making a difference) if the words I write and express are not acknowledged in some way? In making this information accessible, am I actually reaching anyone?
Sustainability Spotlight: In matters of sustainability, making something accessible is a main goal; to be sure. Hence the recipes (like this one) for ingredients, methods, flavors, etc. that are familiar but modified to be more sustainable (vegan). The internet makes a LOT of information, products and platforms accessible to people, and each of those people have access to other people to which they can be an influence (i.e. - why do they call some online personas, influencers? This is the point - they are making products more accessible by being seen and marketed to a smaller sphere of influence, thereby being an influencer on groups of people not otherwise accessed in a broad scope). So, with this blog (and all the others) supporting a vegan lifestyle and communicating new approaches to sustainability, why do I feel as if none of us are reaching enough to make a difference?
Is it the plastic that comes with most of our food supply? Is it all the delivery trucks coming down my cul-de-sac (of maybe 25 houses, folks) each day, multiple times a day? Is it all of the resource use for the cars and increase in traffic, air travel, etc. of Americans traveling and going shopping for "stuff?" Is it the online arguments using consumerism to "tank" a certain beer company for disagreeing with a choice of influencer due to that influencer having a lifestyle that they don't support, instead of making meaningful impacts? Yeah...it's all of that, but especially that last one.
A core tenant of a lot of my blogs are that individuals can change the world; in particular through choice of products. We can demand change, and influence as a group by what we purchase, how companies operate. The recent backlash mentioned above proves this point explicitly. However, did we use our collective buying power to make a sustainable difference? No. Did we use our collective buying power to improve the quality of how the product is produced, sourced, or delivered? No.
The power was used to disagree with a sociopolitical "issue" that's really no issue at all other than one that is divisive, biased, and completely not relevant. That's right - it's not important / relevant. Why should we care at all about WHO promotes products? It should be the least of our concerns, and yet...that "care" was the reckoning on this brand of late, and the most effectively utilized power of consumerism I've seen in years.
Perhaps what needs to be considered for this world to improve its chances at a long-term sustainable future is how we frame sustainability online since that seems to be what people pay attention to most. Hopefully someone is reading this blog (or any of the others like mine), making these recipes, and changing their interactions. If you are, please continue - In the interim, I'll be here...waiting.
And while I'm waiting, I'll make this veggie packed and delicious (not) cream-based pasta to pleasantly promote sustainability via a vegan lifestyle. Sustainability doesn't have to be a major adjustment to make lasting changes, it just has to be a true influencer to allow us all to choose to be better stewards of this world.
Roasted Cauliflower Sauce:
1 tbsp avocado oil
1/2 large cauliflower (including stalk) cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 white onion (sliced)
10 garlic cloves (sliced thin on level 3 mandoline)
salt & pepper (to taste)
1/3 block of vegan Parmesan (chunked) - I use Violife wedge-form
1/2 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup vegetable broth
2 tsp white miso
1 tsp stone ground mustard
1 lemon (juiced)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 lb rigatoni pasta (or your favorite)
1 zucchini (sliced into bite sized pieces)
1/3 bunch asparagus (sliced and cut into bite sized pieces)
1/2 white onion (sliced)
1 cup frozen peas
5-oz baby bella mushrooms (cut into bite sized pieces)
salt & pepper (to taste)
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F with a large oil coated cast iron skillet inside oven (this pre-heats your pan and cuts down cook time for the roast; don't skip).
Meanwhile, add oil, cauliflower, onion, garlic, salt & pepper (to taste) to a large bowl and toss to coat. Set aside.
Once oven is up to temperature, (Carefully! it's VERY hot) remove skillet from oven using insulated heat pads. Now, add your cauliflower mixture and stir on the stovetop for ~1 minute. Place skillet back into oven and roast for ~20-25 minutes (or until vegetables are softened and have started to brown).
While your cauliflower is cooking, add all remaining ingredients of Roasted Cauliflower Sauce to a high speed blender. Set aside.
Set a large pot of salted water over Medium-High heat to bring to a boil. Once water is up to boil, add pasta and cook ~20 minutes or until al dente. Drain and leave ~1/3 cup pasta water in pan. Set aside.
Once the cauliflower has completed cooking, (Carefully! it's VERY hot), remove skillet from oven using insulated heat pads and add contents to your blender. Put skillet on stovetop; no need to wash / wipe out and set aside for now.
Blend Roasted Cauliflower Sauce on high-speed for ~1 minute (Vitamix) or until completely creamy (using tamper if necessary). Set aside.
Return to your skillet, and heat over Medium-High heat on the stove and add a little more oil (if necessary). Add all Vegetables with a pinch of salt & pepper, and cook for 10-15 saute and stir frequently until asparagus is crisp tender. Remove from heat.
Now, assemble - add Roasted Cauliflower Sauce to pasta pan with reserved water; stir to incorporate. Pile some pasta into bowls and top with Vegetables. Serve immediately.
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie