A few weeks ago, Chris and I came home from our Sunday market, unloaded the truck, and jumped in my car to make a quick trip to Nashville to visit Chris’ sister before she moved from Nashville to Denver. Just as we were making our way through Rabbit Hash on our way to the interstate, we turned on NPR and caught the tail end of an episode of On Being, a radio show about what it means to be human. Broad subject, right? This particular episode featured Dan Barber, an award-winning chef, author, and advocate for good farming and the farm-to-table movement. I was so intrigued by what he had to say in the last 10 minutes of the show, that I decided that I should get online and listen to the full episode. Of course, it took me a few weeks before I could sit down and listen to the full 50-minute show, but I did, and I was so inspired by the conversation between Dan, the show’s host, and the audience, I thought I would share a link to the episode. Fifty minutes is the perfect amount of time to cook a meal or sit down and eat while you listen. The show covers so many important topics like the link between the flavor and nutrition of food and how it was grown, our modern disassociation with food and where our ingredients originate, the cost of eating locally, and more. I especially appreciated how often the link between ecology and food came up. As an ecologist turned farmer, I see the tight and intricate link between ecology and agriculture, but it is sometimes difficult to articulate that connection, especially when we are used to seeing our food packaged up and on display in a sterile grocery store instead of growing in the soil of a farm surrounded by a living environment. It makes perfect sense to me that if you treat the place where you grow your food well, your plants will thrive, contain more nutrients, and be more flavorful. Really great chefs understand this, and it is why the farm-to-table movement is growing.
During the show, a couple of authors were mentioned: Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver. Before I ever became a farmer or even dreamed I would be growing food for people, these two authors changed the way that I ate. I was already interested in organic food, but after I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food by Pollan, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Kingsolver, I began to realize the importance of eating locally and seasonally. I also began to wonder where the heck my food was coming from. It was this curiosity that led me to grow some of my own food and meet local food producers. I highly recommend the three books mentioned above, plus Michael Pollan has several other non-fiction books out about food, plants, and cooking that are worth checking out. Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite fiction writers, perhaps because she’s from Kentucky and was at one time a biologist! I could add a long laundry list of other food and farming books that I love, but I will restrain myself and stick to the ones above, the ones that put me on the path to eating well and growing my own food.