Thursday, July 28, 2016

~ Local Non-GMO ~

Beautiful Organic Non-GMO Eggs - Locally Raised
Even in the face of an impossibly large Industrial Food System.  We really are much more powerful than we suppose ourselves to be.  We each individually make a difference.  We can change our personal health destiny.  We don't need to feel helpless, hopeless or victimized by the system.  We vote with our dollar.  What we buy we support.   We have the opportunity every single day to vote with our dollar - to either bring higher consciousness to our food choices by supporting local organic farmers and the local food economy or - often  unwittingly because we didn't know we had other options - to support GM food and other industrial faux foods that are adulterated in myriad and often unfathomable ways.  If the GM foods are not supported by consumers - trust me they will go away simply because they don't make economic sense.

So rather than catching yourself grumbling about an industrial food system,  rather than wasting energy feeling distressed or victimized about the potential health hazards of GM foods and what Monsanto is dishing up, I offer another option.

Why not take the focus off Monsanto and what they do - and simply BE the solution.

See how good it feels to just say "No" and take your power back!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

~ Another Plug For Local Food ~

Local Foods Support Health
A primary indicator of health is the human ability to adapt and thrive in the environment in which they live.  In the past people lived closely connected to the land.  It was not uncommon for generations to live and die within the sight of a particular mountain range or valley.  In the past people ate food that was locally produced, and the cheeses and milk, for instance, produced from the grasses and flowers of a particular region produced colors, flavors and aromas that were distinctive to the region.

One of the things that modern people seem to have lost is an intimate knowledge and connection with the environment in which they were born and/or living.  We do not experience the land or the seasons in the profound way that our ancestors did.  We are mobile, often moving from place to place.  And an industrial food system makes it possible for us to eat food that comes from great distances.

One of the most powerful things that we can do to re-connect ourselves with the land,  no matter where we live, is to eat food that is grown locally.   Local food strengthens the human adaptive capacity, strengthens health, is fresher, more nutritious, and usually tastes better too.

Monday, July 25, 2016

~ Terrior and the identity of local flavor ~

Locally Grown Carrots

Once again I re-visit the tantalizing topic of local food.

What does our valley, our soil, taste like?  How does it create a unique local food flavor?

The local terrior - the local soil and environment - interact together to play a role in the genetic expression of plants and when all come together create a unique food expression.  So peaches grown in Conejo Valley will actually taste different - and should btw taste different - than peaches grown in Ojai.

How do we embrace our uniqueness?  How do we even begin to discover what that uniqueness is and learn how to identify it and distinguish it from other flavors?  Very simply - start visiting and shopping at farmer's markets and grow a garden.

I remember my first visits to this valley.  My family was planning to move from Santa Monica and we often spread our picnic in orange groves and as a child I remember I played in farm fields and hid in ditches or oak trees when farmers rode by on horseback.  Basque sheep herders came down each year from northern California to graze their sheep.  It was a very different valley than the one we see today.  The farm fields pretty much disappeared decades ago.

With the food producing land all but vanished - what resources do we have to begin to explore and build a local cuisine, a local food culture?  I like to focus on the positive.  What we DO have is the most amazing climate that grows just about everything.  What we DO have is a whole network of backyards.  Backyards that could be converted to permaculture and create a kind of food redundancy and food security that would benefit the entire community.  Each backyard connected like little points of light - a whole wonderful interconnected food web.

I would get very excited to learn that someone in the community became very passionate about growing heirloom beans.  There are so many interesting varieties and beans grow very well here which I happen to know from my own garden experiments.  I would be very excited to learn that someone in the community became passionate about growing squash.  I can't tell you how many delicious beautiful varieties of squash ARE  NOT grown commercially.   Or how about someone getting so interested in baking real artisanal bread that they go off to study with Chad Robertson in northern California or travel to Europe to study traditional bread baking.  What about artisanal cheese?  What about locally raised backyard eggs from chickens who lead lives that chickens are meant to lead?

Once we start getting excited about local food and food culture the possibilities are endless and things really start to get interesting.

Those of you who attend my classes know that they are all about local food and that at each class participants can expect to experience a whole plethora of new local flavor sensations.  Each bite becomes an education to the palate and is an important first step to discovering, recognizing and cultivating local food and local food identity.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

~ Why Local? ~

Deliciously Local

As many of you know I am totally about eating local.  I find great pleasure foraging for delicious food at the plethora of farmer's markets here in Southern California.  There is good food to be had at ALL times of the year.  Eating seasonally doesn't mean that you expect to be eating watermelon in January.  Eating seasonal means consciously choosing to eat and prepare foods that grow and thrive at that particular time of year.  It means living in rhythm and harmony with the environment around you.

Here in Southern California the seasons are subtle and yet each season brings its particular health challenges as well as opportunities to heal and strengthen.  One of the primary sources of support and vitality in each season of the year are the plants and foods that grown and thrive around you. Eating food that is grown in your own environment strengthens you to withstand the environmental stresses of your environment.  Knowing what to eat in each season and to prepare those foods is a simple way to strengthen and preserve health and prevent imbalances.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

~ Fermentation Festival ~

Screaming Pickle Contest
Don't miss the annual Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival at Rancho La Patera and Stow House in Golita on Sunday September 11th, 2016 from 11 AM to 5 PM.

It will be an amazing celebration of all things fermented and all things local, an opportunity to sample 75 + artisanal fermented foods, visit 50 + exhibits, and meet with experts on the subject.  In addition there will four stages with educational speaker and live and hands-on demos.

This year I have been invited to do a hands-on demo on how to make small artisanal batches of fermented spicy tomato salsa.  Each participant goes home with their own jar of salsa to ferment on their kitchen counter.

By-the-way I just have to mention the Screaming' Pickle Contest.  This is an UBER fun part of the fermentation celebration as amateur fermentation geeks - such as myself - have an opportunity to enter homemade ferments to be judged by a panel of experts.   The award ceremony takes place towards the end of the day.  There are three categories:  fruit, vegetable and beverage.

Look for more information in future posts.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

~ A Celebration Of Local Foods ~

What is local flavor all about?

Beginning to define and discover what local flavor is all about is an exciting process.   At a recent gathering I put together an intriguing menu that was inspired by my travel abroad and yet based and grounded in regional foods that reveal their roots in our local soil.  

Monday, July 11, 2016

~ A Party With A Purpose ~

Dishes that Inspire Beautiful Food

Preserving Summer with Fruit Coulis, Jams and Syrups

Thursday July 14th at 6 PM

Drawing from a delectable selection of farmer's market fruit and berries you will learn to create small artisanal batches of fruit coulis, jam and syrup.  Trust me nothing tastes better than homemade fruit preserves.  We will talk about how to make them without sugar too.

In addition - and with an eye to all things fermented - I will show you how fun and easy it is to take the process a step further by fermenting the fruit.  

Dinner and Botanical-Inspired Elixirs

Focaccia with Blackberries and Lemon Thyme

Quinoa with Blueberries, Mint and Preserved Lemon

Strawberry Tomato Panznella
And many more edibles will be served, shared and sampled.

Don't miss this unique opportunity to gather with like-minded folk for a fun-filled evening.

Everything is made with lots of love and gmo-free!