Wednesday, February 27, 2008

why organic?

when i was a kid my sisters and i would spend a lot of time at my grandparents' house. they lived about 30 minutes from our house and we would stay there when my parents would go out on weekends, or once in a while when they would go on a vacation..just the two of them. my grandparents also started a tradition with my sisters and myself that still is one of my favorite all time memories. during the summer each of us would get to spend one week alone at my mom's two brothers and sister still lived there so the week was spent hanging out with them week that was totally focused on our favorite aunt would take us to the uncle miniature golf..other uncle..the movies... and my grandmother would prepare our favorite foods all week. i am the oldest so i always got to go first. my mom would drop me off, i would spend my week..then she would pick me up and drop off my sister susan. one week later she would pick up susan and drop off my youngest sister, kathi. each time one of us had to leave we would sob all the way home..really made my mom feel good don't you think??...but those weeks were so focused on us..simple times but happy. the love i had (have) for my grandparents can never be duplicated by anyone or anything else.

my grandmother was a terrific cook and the type that would go to the market everyday for fresh food. i never remember anything in her freezer but ice cream and ice. she cooked big meals... but somehow always knew how to make enough to ensure everyone could eat their fill..but not so much as to have leftovers. she used to buy fresh produce daily at a small open air produce stand..she called it the fruit stand...and we used to love going with her during those summer weeks. she knew the proprietor quite well..she would taste everything before she selected her daily items..and always made sure we tasted too. this was the late 60's and 70's so the proliferation of farmer's markets and organic produce had not yet begun.

i think this is what started my lifelong love of terrific tasting ingredients. i believe quality ingredients are an investment. an investment in your health, in really good tasting food, in supporting small farmers and in the earth. i looked up the word investment and the definition is either "an amount of money invested in something for the purpose of making a profit" or "something, e.g. a contribution of something such as time, energy or effort to an activity, project or undertaking, in the expectation of a benefit". i think both definitions apply to the concept of investing in quality ingredients. sure, they can be quite pricey..but they make all the difference in cooking. in future posts, i plan to discuss farmer's markets, buying local, quality ingredients and the push towards organic everything. this is a passion for well as a way of life..and i would love to begin a dialogue with you all to get your points of view on these subjects. for now i want to share two items. i shop a number of times per week..not everyday like my grandmother but close. i am lucky to live in the napa valley where fresh produce is abundant year round. we have a farmer's market twice a week and last week i began receiving a once a week delivery of organic produce. this is the coolest idea.... my neighbor discovered a local farm that specializes in this practice. they prepare boxes of produce straight from their farm and other, local farms. they deliver the boxes to a home in your neighborhood and you pick up. we decided to go in together and split each box...enough for a couple of meals..but not so much that the produce spoils...perfect timing to still allow my twice weekly visit to the farmer's of my favorite activities.

when the first box arrived, it was full of different types of greens..spinach, red chard, young broccoli, rapini etc, along with spring onions and citrus fruits (it is february after all). my neighbor took one look and said.."o.k., i grew up in a home where vegetables came out of a can or the freezer. what do i do with this? can you help me?" now, i think i mentioned that i adore cooking, so i packed up a good selection of extra virgin olive oils, sea salts, good vinegars, fresh pepper and spent the day at her house sauteing, steaming and roasting vegetables..all very simple easy techniques made special by the quality of the ingredients. she loved everything and later said that her family raved about each dish. success!! another convert to organic produce and quality ingredients.

please share your stories regarding cooking, food shopping and recipes..many of my future posts will focus on these topics.

for now..this is the website for the farm that i discussed.

they only deliver in the san francisco bay area..but if you live in this area please check it out..the produce is amazing. for the rest of you, i encourage you to seek out local farmers. buying local, organic ingredients is really good for you, for the farmer and for the planet.




Anonymous said...

I really like the stories you tell about your family. Please post more blogs like this.

Anonymous said...

I like the stories about your family too!

Steve Brothers said...

I have never been a cook. I would have starved if I had remained single. I didn't know my dad could cook until the two of us went camping in the high sierras. But I have been learning to cook. At first my goal was to prepare one meal a week to let Karen off the hook, now I am doing two or three a week and Karen either loves my cooking or she is so glad to get out of cooking she just raves to keep me motivated.


Anonymous said...

Please share the recipes you created for your neighbor.

Thank you,

Mary Brookstone

P.S. I read your blog a couple times a week.