When Myra Goodman started Earthbound Farm over 25 years ago, she never imagined there would be a market for organic produce, let alone an entire cookbook. But as more and more people are striving to “go green”, eat better and lighten their carbon footprints, her organic farm is doing better than ever and her new book Food to Live By has become a demand in a growing market.
Goodman’s book details her journey traveling out west to Carmel Valley, Ca., where she and her husband took a gamble to start an organic farm. She admits that a cookbook featuring all organic ingredients was not really feasible back in 1984 when they started because organic foods were only available in specialty health food stores and farm stands. Furthermore, when organics were available, they were incredibly expensive. Now, with the help of Earthbound, the largest grower of organic produce in the world which farms 30,000 acres and offers over 100 products, prices are going down and more and more people have access to buying pesticide-free fruits and vegetables. And the book, co-written with Linda Holland and Chef Pamela McKinstry, makes great use of them all.
Since Goodman is not a trained chef, the book was more approachable for me personally because her recipes are simple and basic but incorporate wonderfully fresh ingredients. She also doesn't use a ton of fancy specialty items, which is a plus when it comes to access and affordability. Goodman started the book by creating her own recipes to make use of all of the leftover produce during her days selling harvested goods at their farm stand. Over the years, she’s built a collection of recipes from pastas to steaks and baked goods to jams using fresh and flavorful ingredients cover to cover.
Lucky for me, I was born and raised in Salinas, Ca., neighbor to Carmel and the site where Earthbound currently does most of their production . I went home last weekend to visit my family and I was able and eat the Earthbound products as close to the source as possible. I still bought them from my local supermarket, but imagine how fresh they were without having to endure days of travel. Sticking true to my roots, I tried the California Salad (pictured below) with Avocado, Apricots, Almonds and Goat Cheese and it was a major hit at one of our family parties. I added cherry tomatoes for extra tang.
Other than the delicious recipes and mouth-watering photos, another great feature of this book is the guides to different types of produce like field greens (lettuce), squash and tomatoes. Goodman and her co-writers explain each varietal, its flavor and how to use it in cooking. Even as a local, I still find these guides incredibly helpful when cooking and grocery shopping.
Even though the book is a great step toward organic, I know one of the biggest issues with organics to date is the cost. So when I returned to my current city of Birmingham, Al., I did some research at my local supermarket and found that Earthbound pre-packaged lettuces, carrots and raspberries were on sale as often as those that were not organic. Looks like you don’t have to spend a fortune to make your diet eco-friendly after all - you just have to look for coupons and the sales. And even if you throw in some non-organic produce here and there, Food To Live By is a great user-friendly starter cookbook and also a wonderful source for incorporating fresh ingredients into your every-day diet.
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