“…Everyone is Entitled to Good Food”

To me, good food refers to food that is high quality and satisfying.  It’s something that can be categorized by these traits but also has many more meanings.

What is good food?

Although it is hard to narrow this down to a few simple parts, I am convinced that good food falls into two categories.  A term like good food is already quite vague and it refers to much more beyond some categories. But, I hope to explain some of my perspective and share my thoughts on it.

I believe that good food of high quality refers to food that uses high quality – unprocessed, fresh and nutritious – ingredients to create an equally high quality end product.  A perfect example of this might be a scratch tomato sauce; especially if using fresh tomatoes rather than canned. Scratch tomato sauce contains less additives and fresh ingredients resulting in a far tastier and nutritious sauce than its distant cousin Ragu.  But good food isn’t just limited to these factors.

It can also refer to something delicious or tasty.  Ideally this version of good food will also fall into the category of high quality; better ingredients generally yield a better end product.  But since “tasty” and “delicious” are subjective, that may not always be the case. My perfect example of a satisfying good food would be ice cream.  It would be made from scratch using local ingredients and purchases to create a delicious treat that also featured its prime ingredients and their producers.  But to some, maybe Ben & Jerry’s fills this category; that’s okay, either way – homemade or store bought – ice cream is satisfying good food.

This idea – “Everyone is entitled to good food” – is very similar to the concept of food security.  According the United Nations, food security is defined as “the condition in which all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious foods…”  But at its core, this component of my food philosophy has two supporting ideas.

Food is something beautiful and sacred and deserves to be shared.  Everyone should be able to partake in this regardless of physical, economic or social position.  A fantastic dining experience – both the service and the food – is something amazing and should not be reserved to the individuals willing to spend excessive amounts of money; and it’s starting to become more prevalent in places across the planet.  Now in even the tiniest corners, like Rushford, Minnesota (population 807), these exciting experiences are created from excellence.

Additionally, good food has the potential to connect people, promote growth, inspire ideas and recall cherished memories.  Hundreds of years ago, during the tobacco harvest season, slaves and owners would gather at the same table to partake in a feast – barbecue – to celebrate the end of the harvest.  Stigmas of racism that normally dominated everyday life were thrown out the window as this delicious repast connected two unlikely groups and cultures.

One of my fondest memories of good food dates back to my childhood.  As a surprise treat to go with dinner, my mother would make pasta salad.  This wasn’t anything fancy but it sure was delicious. Now, anytime I have my mother’s pasta salad, it brings me back to memories of family time around the table and the wonders of being a kid.  If good food isn’t shared with all it inhibits these possibilities.

No one should live their life without some access to good food.  It opens new doors and creates fantastic opportunities. This tenant of my food philosophy is one of the reasons I strive to create delicious and memorable experiences for my  consumers. Our world has many not-so-great parts, but I believe food can rekindle a kind and loving world while it provides a guiding light for all; I believe everyone is entitled to good food.

Make the Food and They will Come

Both of the recent dining events at Pepperfield were extremely rewarding on many levels. Each guest left stunned and satiated from the beautiful symphony of food.

At the first event, as people gathered in the house, the yeasty aroma of fresh pita wafted through the air. A collection of bowls sat on the table with various prepared items. A brilliant mandala sat at the center of the room.

As the evening progressed the tables filled and the meal began; for the next few hours the house was filled with the sounds of dining – clinking plates and forks, groans of satisfaction and light conversation between bites of food.

And at the second, in similar fashion a collaboration of indigenous communities assembled outside. The valley produced a surreal ambiance of songbirds, gently rolling streams and the occasional call of a rooster. The meal commenced with a tribute to the sacred foods of the Native Americans, and a relaxed evening of food continued until sunset. “Stunned and satiated”, how do I know? At the drop of each plate they only break in the silence was a gasp, phones and cameras documented each evening and exclamations resounded as each course brought new flavors and aromas.

“…Great food and memorable experiences will innately draw attention”. Another question is, were the guests drawn in? Frankly, I don’t care; that wasn’t my goal. The beauty of these events was not the praise and admiration that Pepperfield and I recieved. (Although it was appreciated.) The true beauty was seeing part of my food philosophy demonstrate itself in real time. My goal was to prepare the food in such a way that the flavors – the food – converged to create an explosion of enjoyment and satisfaction; using ingredients at their peak in flavor, grown only a few hundred yards from the guests, I employed my creativity to create culinary art. Images that will be remembered longer than the five seconds of fame from facebook. The food did most of the work. Contained within each bite, scattered across each plate, hidden in the food, was the potential to captivate and amaze. My role was simply to understand the potential of food and allow it to happen.

The Importance of Bioregionalism

Bioregionalism is defined as an advocacy of the belief that eating, product procurement and other human activities should be sourced from local areas. It’s not something that is always practical, but when it is, bioregionalism should be observed.

With respect to food, bioregionalism drastically increases the overall quality of ingredients and products. Naturally all products procured with bioregionalism in mind often travel less distance. This ensures that the conscious consumer receives the product at peak freshness more than any store bought counterpart. Some products in stores are already a week – and sometimes more – old and have bounced around in a truck, plane or boat leading to bruised and damaged produce. As discussed in this post, many products are now selected not for flavor, texture or other desired criteria, but instead selected for their transportability. Bioregionalism allows for a more biodiverse selection of products to be both shared and consumed. Another trait of bioregional products is that they will frequently be of peak ripeness, and as a result, peak flavor. Many fruits will continue to ripen off the plant, this qualifies them as a climactertic fruit. While many fruits fall into this category – tomatoes, peaches, bananas and more – only one fruit truly has to be ripened this way; pears will rot if left on the tree to ripen. Any other climacteric fruit is only picked and allowed to ripen to make for easier transportation and increase shelf life, and this compromises the flavor. Ripening on the plant, climacteric fruits will still develop more natural sugars and better flavors. Not only does bioregionalism allow for these fruits to achieve this ripeness before you enjoy them, it also makes a plethora of other unseen varieties – ones usually to delicate to transport and market – to be enjoyed in commerce. Both the markets for purchase and the nature of products that support bioregionalism create a higher demand for quality-minded products. Farms or individuals sell and back these goods, as opposed to larger industrial agriculture systems and their purveyors. The producer has a delicate reputation to maintain. If a product is consistently poor, it won’t sell. This ensures that farmers and producers have a much higher set of standards than those who sell to larger stores and never meet face to face with their customers.

The nature of bioregionalism is such that it promotes the support of local markets. This ensures that money stays in the region as opposed to flowing to into industrial agriculture or the industrial food system. At the Oneota Co-Op here in town, more than 40 cents of every dollar spent stays within 50 miles. That money goes to farmers and growers, our neighbors, and helps expand the growth of a community still recovering from economic instability from decades of industrial agriculture. More often than not, bioregionalism also helps create lasting connections. Farmers and producers wish to place a face behind their product and often will represent it at farmer’s markets and through community involvement. This offers a new opportunity for both consumers and producers to meet, network and create new social connections.

Bioregionalism offers us, the C3, quality products, lasting relationships and a fantastic alternative to some of industrial agriculture’s products. But it takes effort; driving to a farm to purchase items, making trips to farmers markets and cooperatives, doing the research simply to find these bioregional outlets is an involved, but rewarding, process. Maintaining observation of bioregionalism can be hard and it’s fair to observe it when practical. Certain ingredients – coffee, tea, chocolate, among others – are not easy products to come by in Iowa, as well as other places. Enjoyment of them is fine, but it is important to remember the real cost of the goods – footprint on the Earth, fossil fuel consumption to transport, people and time dedicated to producing this product and many other factors – not just the price tag. I encourage you to endeavor to eat and shop locally. You’ll encounter new experiences, discover fantastic tastes and learn alternatives to both things you love as well as things you might not. Bioregionalism can enrich your life as well as the lives of those directly around you.

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑