Slowing Food Down
In a previous post, I talked about Slow Flowers and what that means in terms of living more local, in-season and sustainable with flowers. But as you probably know, the whole concept of “slow” started many years ago with food.
Slow food is just real food eaten fresh, in-season and grown in a sustainable way. And real food is at the heart of what so many of us strive for in our daily lives.
Who better to help us in our quest for good, real food than a chef whose entire career as a celebrity chef is built on the virtues of fresh, in-season produce?
Meet Chef Nathan Lyon
I have had the pleasure of working with Nathan for the last 4 years as our chef and co-host on Growing A Greener World TV. But he is also the Emmy-Nominated host of Good Food America on the Veria Living Network and several other shows on Discovery Health, Fit TV and The Learning Channel. He is also a good friend.
Let me tell you, Nathan is the real deal. Not only is he a classically trained chef (Le Cordon Bleu), but he also worked for over a decade in Farmer’s Markets. This guy knows in-season produce and he understands the value of it in terms of flavor and sustainability. And the best part of working with Nathan is that he is genuinely funny. When Nathan is on the set, you are guaranteed to laugh the entire day.
Nathan recently came out with his first cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh. The book is broken down into the FIVE seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter, and…chocolate! And that last season is killer.
We have all learned a lot from Nathan, so I thought it would be fun to interview him so that he can share some of his handy tips with all of you. Here we go…
Interview with Chef Nathan:
Q1) In your book, you talk a lot about the virtues of in-season produce. What are the top reasons we should strive toward buying “with the seasons”.
What’s so great about shopping in season is that you are getting the freshest, most delicious and most nutrient rich foods available. Not to mention that when the fruits or vegetables are in season, it’s the least expensive. It’s truly a win-win!
Q2) What do you think are the most important reasons for buying local?
As I say in my seasonal cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh, I buy from local food purveyors for many reasons: to support my local community and its farmers financially, all the while keeping my carbon footprint as small as possible. In addition, my experience is that buying from local family farmers is safer. Smaller, family-owned farms know their produce and their animals. They know when their product needs attention and can respond quickly to remedy the situation.
The way I look at it, every dollar we spend on food counts as a vote: for farming and fishing practices that respect our earth; for American farmers and fishermen who farm and fish sustainably; for those who do not use synthetic sprays, fertilizers, antibiotics or growth hormones. If you want to support such things, then seek them out and do exactly that: support them with your dollar, your vote.
Q3) What is your number one tip for consumers when shopping at Farmer’s Market?
I always tell people to follow the ABC’s when shopping at the farmers market:
Arrive early and Ask a lot of questions. When you arrive early, you have the best amount of volume from which to pick. It also may be less crowded, which is a great opportunity for you to ask the farmer questions like how to choose the best product, how to store it so it keeps the longest and the best ways to prepare it.
Bring your own bag. Cut out the use of plastic bags. Plus, your own bag will probably be more durable and will be able to hold a lot more produce. Score!
Cash. Bring it. Especially small bills. Most farmers don’t accept credit cards. So, be prepared with cash.
Q4) I love how your cookbook has 5 seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and…CHOCOLATE. Explain how that came about.
Since I always shop and cook in season, it was a natural progression to arrange my cookbook as such. The chocolate season, however, is another story, and I must give credit to my friends and family. As a lover of chocolate, over the years I developed a great many recipes using this delicious ingredient. That said, I noticed as I developed my cookbook that I had included numerous chocolate recipes in each season.
So, I reached out to friends and family via email and Facebook to ask which recipes I should keep and which I should cut so that each season would have a variety of seasonal desserts. The overwhelming response was that I wasn’t allowed to remove any chocolate recipes as chocolate is omnipresent. It became abundantly clear to me, at that point, that all of my chocolate recipes deserved their own season since they should be enjoyed all year round. As it turns out, Chocolate is everyone’s favorite season!
Q5) Is there any other question you wished I had asked?
I wish you had asked me who one of my favorite persons in the world is. That, of course, would be my Co-Executive Producer of Growing a Greener World, Theresa Loe. She is thoughtful, generous, talented, a hard worker, an amazing Mom and a wonderful friend.
Where to Find Nathan:
All photos courtesy of Chef Nathan and Joe Lamp’l.