Monday, November 9, 2009

Culinary Connection

As a chef you learn to appreciate food from the farm to the table and everywhere in between but as a whole our culture differs from others because of our lack of tradition and ritual of eating. We eat alone, standing up, in our car, while working and on the phone. We’re disconnected from the food we eat and where it comes from. Connecting to your food can be done in two very simple ways: buying from the local farmers and eating seasonally.

“Food comes from the Earth, and technique is technique, but if you have a soul in your cooking you can transcend that to the soul of the customer” Chef de Cuisine Chef Sergio said.

Understanding why buying from local farmers is better is essential for your health. Let’s take a tomato for example a tomato is picked green so that it will last longer and can endure shipping across the country. It’s then placed in a room with ethylene gas (a non toxic gas) to turn it from green to red. Once it turns red it’s ready to be shipped across the country to your local grocery store and appear on our shelves. “When you buy a tomato, you are eating a ripe green tomato,” Farmer Bill from Bill’s Farm in Northern Michigan said. This is why tomatoes can be grainy and flavorless. Not only do they not taste as good, but they also lack the vitamins and minerals that they’d receive from staying on the vine ‘til they were good and ripe. As a chef I’m very aware of the many processes that foods go through before they appear on our shelves and for this reason I support local farmers.

By buying and eating seasonally you’ll get vegetables that are abundant for that time of year. When food is abundant, some of the middlemen are not needed because the food can be brought in from closer vicinity, allows foods to cost less for the consumer. For instance, we’re at the end of fall and the beginning of winter -pumpkins, gourds and squash are prevalent for this time of year and for the most part inexpensive. As they start to go out of season the prices will increase which will be your indication to stop buying them.

Our society that lacks ritual and tradition has to start somewhere and as I have said before starting is within you. These are just a few beginning steps that will make a big impact on your life. Awareness of both buying locally and eating seasonally will provide your body with more of the essential nutrients your body needs and it will decrease your grocery bill as a whole. This leaves you in a better mood to cook with a willingness to create a ritual for your meal, which gives your meal a soul that you can share with others.

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