“We are either going to have a future where women lead the way to make peace with the Earth or we are not going to have a human future at all.”
-- Vandana Shiva
This weekend just past we celebrated International Women’s Day. A day to honour, acknowledge, and pay respect to women and women’s movements, both historical and present day. I’ve spent most of the week reading the work of the wonderful poet Judith Wright. Not just a poet, Judith was also an avid environmentalist and activist for Aboriginal land rights; only a week before her death, she was marching for reconciliation. One of my favourite Judith Wright poems is South Of My Days - the following lines always move me:
Wake, old man. This is winter, and the yarns are over.
No-one is listening
South of my days’ circle
I know it dark against the stars, the high lean country
full of old stories that still go walking in my sleep.
For this post, though, I want to honour another noted activist – the environmentalist, food activist, ecofeminist and author Vandana Shiva. Vandana campaigns against the vested interests of global mega-corporations, and works to draw awareness to the struggles of farmers, women, and communities in India and across the world. She fights to end the epidemic of violence against women and against the earth. Her work in support of seed freedom and biodiversity, organic farming, and fair trade, is both courageous and exemplary.
The right of corporations to force-feed citizens of the world with culturally inappropriate and hazardous foods has been made absolute. The right to food, the right to safety, the right to culture are all being treated as trade barriers that need to be dismantled… We have to reclaim our right to nutrition and food safety. We have to reclaim our right to protect the earth and her diverse species. We have to stop this corporate theft from the poor and from nature. Food democracy is the new agenda for ecological sustainability and social justice.” From Stolen Harvest, Vandana Shiva 1999
Where possible, I encourage you to make ethical food choices. Although not always easy or affordable (I’m no saint, I assure you), even small choices can make a difference. Buy organic eggs. Source locally grown, non-GMO fruit and vegetables – local farmers markets are fantastic for this. If your city has one, join a food co-op like FoodConnect. Grow what you can. Make yourself aware of where your food comes from and how many miles it has travelled to get to your plate.
This salad is made from locally sourced sprouts and miso, and from organic beetroot and radishes. It is easy to make, delicious to eat, incredibly healthy, filling, and will hold up well in the fridge for at least three days, so that you can grab a bowl of it on the run.
Any miso will do for this salad, although a milder light miso is probably best. I’ve been using some organic mountain miso from my local health food store that has a really wonderful nutty flavour and strong smell. For the mixed sprouts, use whatever you can get your hands on, although if you can get a varied combination, all the better. I get my sprouts from The Happy Sprout at the Saturday morning West End Markets, and they are a mixture of sprouted adzuki beans, mung beans, red, puy, and green lentils, and fenugreek.
Either way, this salad is full of bright colours, lots of crunch, and all sorts of things that will make you feel good inside.
Miso & Sprouts Brown Rice Salad
½ cup brown rice
1 cup mixed sprouts
¼ cup sesame seeds
1 bunch radishes
2 – 3 mini beetroot
Handful (approx. 15) snowpeas
1 avocado, to serve (optional)
2 tbsp miso
2 tbsp brown rice syrup
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 small clove garlic, minced
Cook the brown rice according to the instructions on the packet (I cook my brown rice on the stove top – one part rice to two parts water, bring to a boil then turn the heat down and simmer with the lid on until the water is absorbed and rice cooked).
Make the dressing by combining the miso, syrup, vinegar, sesame oil, and garlic in a jar and whisking together.
Prepare the vegetables. Slice the radishes, either in quarters if they are very small or into thin slices if they are bigger. Slice the snowpeas on a diagonal, lengthways, and use a mandoline to thinly slice the beetroot into rounds. If you don’t have a mandoline, simply use a sharp knife to slice the beetroot as thinly as you can.
Dry toast the sesame seeds in a pan on the stove for 2 – 3 minutes, tossing continually. As soon as they start to brown, remove them from the heat.
Transfer the cooked rice to a bowl and add the dressing, the sesame seeds, and the sprouts, mixing thoroughly. Add the snowpeas, radishes, and beetroot, and gently combine.
Serve cooled as is, or with half an avocado fanned out on the side.
Notes: this recipe makes a fair amount of dressing. I only ended up using about ¾ for the salad, but I popped the left over in my fridge and found it to be delicious on a bowl of soba noodles and broccoli a couple of days later!