Mary Beth Lind ate her last fresh tomato last week. She won't have another one until sometime next summer. That's when they will appear in her garden in the West Virginia mountain area of Cannan Valley. Until then she relies on what she has preserved.
Lind is also the co-author of the latest "World Community Cookbook" entitled "Simply in Season." Sunday afternoon, Nov. 12, she was seated just inside the entrance to Alexandria's Ten Thousand Villages shop, 915 King St., signing her book for eager customers and extolling the virtues of eating by the seasons.
"I grew up in an area 25 miles from the nearest supermarket or fast-food establishment," Lind said. "My father was a country doctor and many times he was paid in barter terms — trout, fruits and vegetables."
From that beginning Lind learned to rely on natural foods — those that can be home grown or taken from the wild. "We helped each other as neighbors. I still eat locally-grown and in-season food," she said.
Lind and her co-author Cathleen Hockman-Wert have come out with their own 352 page cookbook that contains recipes geared primarily to edibles by season. Each section of the book has a variety of possibilities depending on what's on Mother Nature's agenda for that calendar period.
Delineated by colors — green for spring; red for summer; orange for autumn; and purple for winter — the book presents recipes that can satisfy even the most cosmopolitan of taste buds. This is not your normal rabbit food offering.
That was evidenced by some samples offered to customers as they arrived at Ten Thousand Villages' shop to either purchase an autographed copy of the book, talk with Lind about her various recipes or sample some of the examples such as the sweet potato croissants.
"Our garden is about two acres. And we do the gardening together. It is planted according to the seasons," said Lester Lind, Mary Beth's husband. "Right now I'm the chauffeur on this book-signing tour."
"I still eat locally-grown and in-season food. I could drive to the supermarket, which is still 25 miles away, but I don't want that food. If I take it out of my garden it is instantly fresh," Mary Beth Lind said. "Even though, with modern transportation, fruits and vegetables can be in the supermarket within 48 hours of picking, they are raised in a different way. They are cultivated to be able to be shipped," she said.
"They are also picked ahead of their natural nutritional level so that they will be fresh when they reach the stores. Even with today's fast transportation, there is a lag time between picking the fruits and vegetables and their arrival at the markets. During that lag time they lose some of their nutritional value," Lind said.
Her book, "Simply in Season," is one of three such treatises available at Ten Thousand Villages as part of their "Whole Community Cookbook" series. The others are "More With Less" by Doris Janzen Longacre and "Extending the Table" by Joetta Handrich Schlabach. Each expounds the thesis that natural foods are a boon both to the human body and the body politic on a national and international level.
A fair trade enterprise of the Mennonite Church's Mennonite Central Committee, a "relief, community development and peace organization of the Mennonite and Bretheran in Christ churches in Canada and the United States," Ten Thousand Villages' primary mission is to promote fair wages to craftspeople in developing countries to increase their standard of living and promote entrepreneurship. Alexandria's store markets the products of artisans in more than 30 countries, according to store manager Danwe N'Dikwe.
"Eating seasonally also has environmental attributes. There are the fuel costs of getting the products to the markets as well as a variety of other concerns," Lind said.
Lind has done upwards of 20 book signings throughout the United States and Canada since her book was released in June. It contains 900 hundred recipes culled from 1600 submissions, she revealed.
"One of the really exciting parts of this for me is that I have also had many of the recipe authors sign my on personal book as I've toured the country," she said. "I really love my book now."
She wasn't the only one with that reaction last Saturday afternoon. Damien Wilde of Silver Spring, Md., and Romena Wallace of the District of Columbia both stopped by to find out how they, as urbanites, could get into eating "Simply in Season."
"I used to have a garden when I was kid. It was great to have everything fresh. It made each season special," Wilde said. And, that was particularly important in his hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska.
Wallace, a native of D.C. and Northern Virginia, only wished she could garden. "Living in the urban area all my life there wasn't much chance to garden. But it would be great," she said.
Dorothy Pyryt was on a four-day tourism excursion from her home in Fairlawn, N.J. She had seen the monuments, visited Mount Vernon and was now taking in Old Town Alexandria. She ventured into Ten Thousand Villages and immediately zeroed in on Lind doing her book signing.
"I'm taking a course in free trade called 'Just Faith.' It is promoted by a group in Kentucky and it's very much along the lines of Ten Thousand Villages," she said. After talking with Lind she decided to buy a book. "I'm definitely going to try some of these recipes," she said.
As potential patrons walked along upper King Street Saturday afternoon, David Bucher, a Ten Thousand Villages volunteer and board member, was out on the sidewalk urging them in to meet Lind and peruse her book. "This book fits in so well to the two others and our basic philosophy," he said.
"Simply in Season" explores how the food we put on our tables impacts our local and global neighbors. Through stories and simple "whole foods" recipes, "Simply in Season" explains the importance of eating local, seasonal foods that contribute to not only good personal health but also worldwide economic well being.
A two-year effort by Lind and her co-author, Hockman-Wert, "Simply in Season" sells for $20. In addition to Ten Thousand Villages it is also available at MCC.org and through other book distribution Web sites, according to Lind.