Summer eating and reading

We had a wedding to go up north to this past weekend, and we took advantage of the trip by splurging in restaurants that use local, seasonal, high quality ingredients: Manresa in Los Gatos, CA and Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA. Chez Panisse chef Alice Waters started the whole trend of cooking using seasonal, local, fresh ingredients, and as the originator of this wonderful trend, their food was indeed delicious. I had a beet with avocado salad and for my entree, albacore tuna with fingerling potatoes, artichokes, and spinach. The avocado was so creamy, rich and ripe! The moment I bit into a fingerling potato, it transported me back to Colombia, where part of my family is from. The potatoes in South America are a whole 'nother level of deliciousness one rarely finds here in the US. Potatoes originated in South America, and accordingly, there are hundreds and hundreds of varieties found only in the southern continent. But I digress here. Both the avocado and potato were so good, it didn't need any condiments. The essence of the vegetable was so pronounced, the flavor so alive, I just sat there enjoying each bite of the avocado and potato, not wanting it to end. The same went for the food we ate in Manresa.

When a vegetable is grown according to the season, organically, and locally, the taste, texture, color, and aroma is 100 times more delicious and intoxicating than a conventionally grown, genetically modified, agro-business manufacturing process. Organic, seasonal produce grows in accordance with the cyclical rhythms of nature, optimizing the essence of the produce grown during each season. It doesn't fight with nature, but works with nature. Or better put, nature supports seasonal produce with all of its Mother-Earth goodness to be the best, most delicious produce it can be.

I would like to encourage people to start shopping, if they haven't already, at their local farmer's markets for multiple reasons:

  1. The organic produce is infinitely tastier than those found in chain markets.
  2. The meats and fish found in farmers market are also infinitely tastier than those found in chain markets. They are also usually grass-fed, wild-caught and local.
  3. We are supporting the "green" nature of shopping at a farmer's market. The farmers are local, requiring much less travelling to get to the markets than produce grown in a foreign country and shipped or aired across oceans to reach us. The carbon footprint of local produce is much smaller, thereby we would be supporting the reduction in global warming. By practicing organic, earth-gentle and -respectful farming methods, we would be supporting the health and longevity of our ecosystem.
  4. We are supporting local businesses, i.e. farmers that toil the land in our backyard, so to speak. And living in a state where our deficit stands in the billions, we could spend our money more effectively by supporting local businesses.
  5. Shopping in farmers markets fosters building of communities, getting to know your neighbors and local farmers. In the high-paced, high-tech world that we live in today, we often forget to interact with one another in a more human level, alienating us more and more from one another. And without human interaction, we are more prone to depression. Want to learn a sure fire way to beat the blues? Go to a farmers market under a big blue sky and see all the lively produce, people, cooked foods and entertainment!! You will leave the market feeling infinitely better!
  6. It's good for you. Because I am a healthcare provider, I have to of course talk about the health benefits of eating a produce-heavy diet, and especially the benefits of organic produce. We are what we eat. By eating organic produce, we are ingesting food that actually nourishes us, not poisons us. Most Americans eat a carb-heavy diet, and if not, a protein-heavy diet with vegetable-heavy diet being the least of choice for many people. When we shift from a carb- or protein-heavy diet to a vegetable-heavy diet, the symptoms people were experiencing: discomforts, aches and pains, fatigue, bloating, constipation, headaches, PMS, high cholesterol, etc. begin to lessen or all together disappear. People also begin to notice becoming gradually averse to junk/unhealthy food as the shift to a healthier lifestyle takes hold. Imagine feeling physically, emotionally and mentally lighter, balanced and sharp, sleeping better, having regular bowel movements, skin clearing up, improved libido, and overall more energy?

So check out your farmers market and take advantage of mother nature's bounty! The fruits and produce in season right now are:

  • watermelon
  • cantaloupe
  • grapes
  • squashes
  • zucchinis
  • egg plants
  • bell peppers

A book I highly recommend that talks about eating with the seasons, choosing a vegetable-heavy diet, and how to find organic resources in and around your home and nationally is called "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto." Written by Michael Pollan, he explains in details why it behooves us to eat like our grandparents, tips on how to shop healthily at local chain markets, and how to perceive eating and food from an empowered, liberated state = eating with joy and to enjoy, not calorie counting and with guilt.

Viva eating!!