The locusts have arrived to portend the heat of the day; buzzing and singing in crescendos as green leaves and browned grasses bounce lazily in the mild wind. It carries steam with the sizzling temperature rising higher till it peaks around dinner time. Ah, mid-Summer is here. The days are bright and the sun shines longest with dusk gathering only till when all of the day's enjoyments have been fulfilled.
Humans are strange creatures, especially in the Summer, I have found. They crave the summer "fun" but complain (incessantly) of the heat that the season brings. Hiding in climate controlled environments spewing artificial air that retains a modest temperatures, it is less likely you will see bikers, walkers, runners or sport players not wilting in a daze when they venture outside. Now that climate shift has increased the temperatures across the globe (by a few degrees or more depending on where you reside), there is little relief in sight.
Sustainability Spotlight: Just last month, The Guardian published an article titled "It's not your imagination, US summers are hotter than ever before." In the discussion points, the author notes specific regions of the U.S. (mostly South-West; West) that uses research and data from "Climate Central" (a non-profit that analyzes and reports on climate science) to point out that "...235 out of 246 US locations have seen an increase in their summer average temperature since 1973. More than half of the locations have warmed by 2 (degrees Fahrenheit),...(and) 37 locations had 30 or more summer days that were hotter than normal."
Further, a study published in June 2020 via Environmental Epidemiology, investigated the idea that despite a well-established relationship between temperature and human death, heat-related deaths remained largely unquantified. Findings of that study across 297 counties (representing ~62% of the U.S. population in 2020) estimated that an average number of deaths related to heat in the U.S. were substantially larger than previously reported.
As you can imagine, heat is impacting social constructs differently through locale (urban environments amplify heat from concentrations of buildings, pavement and limited trees / greenery), and by economic status. "A 2020 study found that in the US, previously redlined (urban) neighborhoods are approximately 5 (degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than non-redlined areas, while having half the tree canopy." In other words, poor and underserved communities are being more adversely affected by climate change in the Summer months.
“(These) trend(s are) a signal of all the extra heat that we’ve accumulated on the planet,” says Andrew Pershing, director of climate science at Climate Central, which released the research. “Globally, this blanket of extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is radiating heat back at us.”
So, what do we do? We enjoy summer like we used to in more affluent communities; tamp down on the gas, electrical and energy loads of our air conditioning which will stop increasing the loads of carbon dioxide in the environment. We add, nurture and maintain more green roofs and more green spaces in urban environments in order to combat the intensity of heat in concentrated living environments. We look to reduce our overall footprint for green house gases, every.single.day, by making the choices that will alleviate, and not contribute to, additional planet warming.
One EASY way? Make a salad, and make it vegan - use the ripe fruits and vegetables of summer to enhance your daily life and enjoy the lingering heat of the day. Make Summer fun for yourself and it can become the most beloved season once again.
4 large ripe tomatoes (1/2 inch thick); red, yellow, green or multi-colored!
1 tsp salt (divided)
1 tsp black pepper (divided)
2 tbsp unsalted vegan butter (divided)
Avocado oil (as needed) - see recipe
4 oz (~4 slices) sourdough bread – ripped into bite-sized pieces
2 cups corn (fresh; cut from cobs, frozen or canned - not picky here, but being a summer recipe, fresh is usually what I use)
1 cup multicolored cherry tomatoes (cut into fourths)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
1/8 tsp dried oregano
2 handfuls baby arugula (~2-3 cups)
1 package vegan bacon (diced) - for this one, I have used Lightlife tempeh bacon and Benevolent bacon - both are excellent!)
Creamy Chive Dressing:
3 tbsp veganise
½ fresh lemon (squeezed)
2 tbsp fresh chives (diced)
Layer tomato slices in flat container with sides (I use an ~9x12-equivalent oval); sprinkle with a dash of salt and ½ tsp black pepper. Set aside.
Heat 2 skillets over medium heat with 1 tbsp vegan butter in each (supplement with olive oil if needed); and once the butter bubbles,
Add corn to one skillet – sauté infrequently until caramelized (~10 min); Remove from heat and set aside.
Add bread to the other skillet – sauté frequently until toasted & golden (~5 min); Remove from heat and set aside.
After bread is done, but you are still caramelizing the corn, add vinegar, olive oil, oregano, 1/8 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp black better to a medium bowl; whisk. Now, add arugula, baby tomatoes, corn (once done) and bread (once done). Stir to combine.
Using the same skillet as you did for the bread, reheat over medium heat and add tempeh bacon. Sauté for a few minutes till warmed through and crisp (add more olive oil if needed to avoid burning).
Last, combine all ingredients of Creamy Chive Dressing in a small bowl and whisk till smooth.
Now, assemble! Spread arugula mixture over the tomatoes in flat platter, sprinkle with tempeh bacon and drizzle Creamy Chive Dressing all over the top.
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie