How often do you think about your relationship with food? It’s a part of our everyday lives whether we’re consuming a meal, watching someone prepare it on television, reading about how to cook it, why to eat it or why we shouldn’t eat it. It is the subject of a great deal of expensive marketing and highly contentious legislation. At the least, food is merely a necessary fuel for the body’s activities but at the most food can fuel the soul.
Although we always appreciated good food, we didn’t give much thought to where it came from or the people and animals that produced it. That all changed one December night in 2003 when we experienced brussels sprouts grown by the talented farmers at Nash’s Organic Produce and expertly prepared by the chef at Bella Italia.
We could tell instantly these were no ordinary brussels sprouts. They were sweet, nutty, and so fresh — everything brussels sprouts traditionally were not. They were so remarkable we asked our waiter about them. He told us they were from Nash Huber’s farm in Sequim and they had just been harvested and delivered that morning.
On our way home to Seattle the next day, we took the scenic route through Sequim and happened to drive past a field of Nash’s brussels sprouts. The light bulb went on as we made the direct connection between soil, farmer, chef and palette. Three months later we moved to Sequim and began our adventure with food. Who knew that a humble miniature cabbage literally would alter the course of our lives?
Residents of the North Olympic Peninsula are fortunate. Our area boasts some of the best farmland and growing climate in the country. We are surrounded by working farms, progressive farmers, talented food producers and chefs committed to supporting the local food economy. It takes a lot of courage to produce food for public consumption, not to mention time, money and often back-breaking work.
Why are there so many people willing to work so hard to bring their products to you? Sometimes it begins by sharing a specialty with friends and family and at their encouragement for taking the next step. For some it’s about being a good steward of the land and passing on knowledge. For others it is family tradition and a way of life. Regardless of the reasons, all those who grow and produce food seem to have one thing in common: a real passion for sharing it with others.
As a consumer, eating “local” isn’t always easy. There is a season to local food; everything slows down when the days are short. Hens produce fewer eggs, goats and cows use their milk to feed their babies instead of us. Produce is sparse and at the mercy of winter’s chill. And let’s face it — we’re spoiled! We can have anything, anytime. So where is the balance?
The purpose of this column will be to explore that balance with you. We will introduce you to peninsula chefs and growers, visit local producers and processors and share favorite recipes based on what is in season locally. We will delve into the relationship between food and health and learn together about the history of food and its future. Benjamin Franklin said, “One should eat to live, not live to eat.” We believe the balance lies somewhere in between.
Mark Ozias and Lisa Boulware are owners of The Red Rooster Grocery and the Sequim Gazette’s newest columnists. Their column will appear the first week of each month. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.