05/06/2009 05:41 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Dandelion Risotto and More Meatless Mondays

Former vegan Lierre Keith in her recent book The Vegetarian Myth posits that the search for a kinder, gentler world is not necessarily only the province of animal activists and vegetarian/vegans.

Keith believes that "factory" farming in all its forms is cruel, wasteful, and destructive. Industrial agriculture - which is barely 50 years old - is more to blame for planetary problems such as ecosystem destruction, she says, than meat eating per se.

Keith fairly successfully makes the case that vegetarianism is not necessarily virtuous.

Yet simply peering at our beliefs and at industrial ag systems - and swine flu is making us do that a little more closely - doesn't, of course, entirely answer the question of what to have for dinner...tonight.

Keith argues for sustainable food systems with mixed farming and moderate (grass fed) meat eating. In practice, that argument - that industrially-produced soybeans are no panacea - still means more Meatless Mondays and fewer Mickey D's.

In order to further our commitment to sustainable, local eating, there is also something else we can do. Something that will help the global, and our local dinner menu. Wild food foraging.

Right now, it's spring in most of the Northern Hemisphere, and that means the foraging is starting to get good. At least if you ready to try dandelions.

The yellow heads are poking up on roadsides, between the cracks of the sidewalks and probably even in your victory garden.

Instead of considering them a pesky weed spoiling the front yard, we might view them as part of our next meal. Collected dandelion leaves, which look a little like arugula, can be eaten in salads or quickly blanched and doused with balsamic vinegar.

The dandelion heads can also, surprisingly, be made into a sunny yellow risotto. (Later in the summer, you can dry the roots for a not-too-delicious ersatz coffee or a liver-cleansing tonic tea).

Try it for your next Meatless Monday.