Saturday, August 8, 2009

“An egg is an egg.”

These are the words that got this locavore-loving blog started. My mom uttered them rather innocently a few weeks ago while I was visiting her and my dad in New Jersey. I grew up there, in Somerset County, back when it was still countryside and not developments of big houses plopped on small tracts of land. I love to visit on weekends and hit the area farm stands, of which there are still a few. This summer I also started buying food from a farmer down the road, Joe, who has been growing vegetables for over forty years. He sells eggs, too, which he gets every week from an ex-FBI agent in Pennsylvania who is “doing the same thing” as him. By this he means farming “the right way” and by this he means no chemicals, 100% organic. The blog-inspiring comment was made after I had mentioned how great it was we could get delicious eggs within walking distance of their house.

Before I go any further, here’s a little bit about me. New York City is my home and has been since graduating college. It wasn’t until I moved here and got my first apartment that I took any real interest in food and cooking. Once my interest was piqued, however, I fell hard. My dream of becoming a fashion stylist morphed into a dream of becoming a food stylist. I quit my job, went to Peter Kump’s cooking school (now ICE), got a job working on a food commercial, and the rest is history. I was a freelance food stylist for many years.

While I’ve shopped the Union Square Greenmarket since my early days in NYC, the aha! moment that drew me in and gave me a passion for supporting the local food movement happened several years ago when I read Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma. Plenty of people before him have written with eloquence about where our food comes from (Wendell Berry, anyone?) but for me this book pulled the information together in a way that opened my eyes and forever changed my outlook on the food I eat.

Since then I've happily continued investigating what it means to eat local food in the Northeast; not only where I can buy it and how to cook it, but which restaurants serve it, which organizations support it, how it makes our communities stronger, our environment and bodies healthier, and how it saves the spectacular landscape of this region from becoming a continuous run of Jersey-style McMansions.

It’s this fun, tasty journey that led me to discover an egg is not, in fact, an egg. My mom is a smart lady but like so many of us, she’s become removed from where her food comes from, how it is best grown and raised. I hope I'm not making all this sound too serious. I mean, yes, there are certainly many reasons why our current food system is bad news and we should worry. But figuring out how to beat the system - i.e. eat local - is the most delightful, mouthwatering education you'll ever receive. Hopefully by sharing what I find – recipes, sources, news, books, films, events, trips, you name it – not only will we all all grow that much wiser, we'll have a great time doing it!

Oh, and before I go, let me set the record straight. While my mom may not appreciate the origins of an egg the way her sustainable food-obsessed daughter does, she is a terrific cook who somehow found the time, energy and love to raise our family on meals made from scratch. Now that I am a cook and have an understanding of what it takes to make this happen – the shopping, prepping, cooking, and cleaning up – I realize how lucky I was to be brought up on whole foods (and by her!) She’s an inspiration to me. If only I can inspire her to cook her pot roast with pasture-raised beef and carrots and potatoes from Joe the farmer, this blog will have all been worth it.

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