SOUTHERN DECAY III

 

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III: FLORA, FAUNA, METAL

 

The landscape of the South has always been one that has fascinated me. Driving 4 hours in any direction from my current home will reveal an entirely different set of scenery from the one I see every day. Driving South to Florida has revealed a landscape that is far more stereotypically Southern than the ones I grew up in. Regarding this somewhat strange landscape allowed me to recognize a distinct aspect of Southern Decay that I feel has ultimately propelled me to create this photographic series.

I’ve always viewed this landscape with an inherent sense of voyeurism. As if watching a film, I have stood on the sidelines and watched this somewhat alien culture that I grew up in change and shift as the world around it grows in leaps and bounds. I suppose that is the dark underbelly to growth and change–some parts, even microscopic cells, have to die for growth to take place.

 

Guacatillo Sauce

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I’m always talking about how Latin flavors are my comfort food. There’s something about the freshness and the spiciness of these foods made vegan that just makes my palate soar. Recently, the Roomie and I made Brian Patton’s (aka the Sexy Vegan) hearts of palm ceviche–hands down one of my favorite dishes ever. It’s from his fantastic cookbook that I reviewed about a year ago, The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home. (Also, if you haven’t already, check out Brian’s podcast, Sexy Vegan Radidio. LOVE this dude, his recipes, and he always leaves me chuckling.)

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We had some guac and freshly made corn chips that I brought from work, and a couple of salsas as well. But there was this avocado that just kept staring me down. So I tossed it into the food processor and made guacatillo sauce–an avocado based salsa that I just adore. Just in time for the 4th of July–whatever picnic or feast you have planned this salsa is sure to please!

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Guacatillo Sauce

1 ripe avocado

large handful cilantro

juice of 1 lime

1 tomatillo, roasted (or 1/4 cup of your favorite verde salsa will do in a pinch)

2 tablespoons diced white onion

1/2 medium sized jalepeno

salt and pepper to taste

handful cherry tomatoes, or 1 medium sized tomato, diced

Toss everything into your food processor. Whirr until completely smooth.

Use as a sauce for your favorite Latin inspired dishes, or scoop it up with hearts of palm ceviche and corn chips as we did.

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Totally, completely epic meal consumed on our freshly redecorated back patio.

Kicking down the closet door (again): Coming out as a “live and let live” vegan

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Recently, a good blogosphere friend of mine, Carrie of Carrie on Vegan (soon to be Carrie on Living),  came out as no longer vegan. I was not only proud and inspired by her honesty and authenticity as a health-conscious blogger, but was simultaneously touched and outraged by some of the words in the comments section of her post.   I’ve been vegan for 5 years this August. In 5 years I’ve not consciously consumed any meat, eggs, or dairy products and have chosen to eliminate other sources of animal based items from my life. In 5 years, I’ve sharpened my own personal philosophy of veganism into something I feel is finally tangible and concrete, and I’ve recently edited my “Why Vegan?!” and “Vegan Manifesto” sections on the blog to reflect that. These changes, coupled with Carrie’s recent post got me to thinking: where do I personally stand on vegans versus non vegans and the vegan/non-vegan debate? How do I personally feel about people who aren’t vegan?!

So, dear readers and friends–I feel the need to kick down the closet door for the second time in my life.

 

I am a live and let live vegan. 

Let me clarify: while I choose not to eat meat, dairy, eggs, or honey; avoid wearing fur and leather; and buy skin care and beauty products that don’t contain any of the above and that aren’t animal tested I won’t judge you if you do.  As I vegan, I seek to put my dollar into products and foods that I want to consume. In doing this, I hope that my existence and that of other vegans can enact change by creating a demand for more sustainably produced plant based foods and products.

I 100% stand by the articles I’ve written (and likely will continue to write) here on the blog that have been political–that have engaged some of the benefits of veganism and those that have blatantly attacked the meat and dairy industries. I am vegan because I don’t agree with these industries, what they do to animals or what they do to the workers who are employed by them. I think that everyone can benefit from adding more plant based foods to their diets because not only are they delicious but they’re incredibly healthful, and those benefits can’t be overlooked no matter what other foods you choose to eat. I’ve posted before about how vegans and non vegans alike can learn from each other and establish wider dialogues rather than arguments surrounding unjust and exploitative systems that take advantage of the environment, animals, workers, and consumers. Most of the people who have seen the horror and intricacies of factory farming aren’t comfortable with and wouldn’t want to financially support such an industry. For vegans and non-vegans alike, I believe this is a source of common ground.

I am a live and let live vegan.

For me, veganism is so much more about what I can do to fight these things and personally not contribute to them rather than critiquing or analyzing what happens to be on my or anyone else’s plate at any given moment. I’m lucky to have people in my life who are as supportive and interested in my vegan lifestyle as they are in the foods that work for them, their bodies, and their taste buds. I know what works for mine, you know what works for yours and the less we judge each other the closer we’ll get to enacting real and lasting change regardless of where we fall on the plant based foods spectrum.

SOUTHERN DECAY II

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II: BY THE TRACKS

Nothing makes me feel like I am in the South more than the feel of humid air on my skin. My new home in Florida is filled with it. On my most recent trip to Tallahassee, my mother and I ate lunch down by the train tracks, on the edge of town. These are all photos from that area, many from an old feed store nearby. Though midday, the light seemed to have that late afternoon glow which made making these photos somewhat like a dream. In some ways I feel that’s all that summer is–one long, languid, warm, and melty dream. A dream in decay.