Whole Foods & Farmers Markets

What a week. My heart is heavy at the passing of Aretha Franklin. I grew up on her music. I saw an interview with Stevie Wonder who talked about his relationship with Aretha. At the end of the interview, he mentioned the cancer she had and said something that I think resonates with all of us. “What we do and what we eat affects us and everything around us”. This is even more prevalent when we, eh hem, start moving a bit slower.

Eating whole foods isn’t a diet. It is using your local produce (and boy, do we have a lot of it here in California) and a bit of imagination to sustain you and your family. A great place to start is your local farmers market. You can purchase the makings for an entire salad and probably make a friend or two. Grab your coffee, some bags and behold the beauty.

If going to a farmers market is new, start out with a salad. I walk around first, to see what is available and maybe get a couple of samples on the way. My next walk through is for purchasing. I always try to buy something I have never worked with and that looks interesting.

Think about buying your salad for the week. A salad kept covered, refrigerated and not seasoned (no salt, pepper or dressing) should keep for the week. As the week goes on, you can add grilled/roasted chicken, a piece of fish, grilled steak, etc. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes (minimal, tomatoes do not like the refrigerator), carrot (ribbons, more on this later). The varieties of lettuces alone are staggering, and all have a different taste and texture. Sometimes, I buy iceberg and a more expensive lettuce. This mixture offers a nice variety of textures and colors and is economical. You can let the farmers help you pick. They are eager for you to like what they are selling and willing to give you a taste of anything before you purchase. The grocery stores generally won’t let you do that. The more you go, the more comfortable you will become in your purchasing, and you will get to know your farmers.

Get the kids involved. You may have to “nudge” them a little, but letting them pick out what they want to eat/cook is important. It shows them who grows their food and where it comes from. Have them help in making the salad.

On a recent trip home, my 12 year old niece was in the kitchen with me. I asked her to help make a salad for dinner. You would have thought I asked her for the nuclear passcode. Well, after some “persuasion”, she was making carrot ribbons (here it is: peel the carrot, cut the bottom off, holding the carrot at an angle, with the vegetable peeler, slowly peel carrot, viola, ribbons) like nobody’s business. She ended up finishing the salad with a high five from auntie and conversation! She took pride in that salad when we all sat down for dinner.

Incorporating more whole foods in your diet makes a difference. This is totally doable and doesn’t require a complete rerack of lifestyle or dieting. Visit your local farmers markets, they would love to help you out. Don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at: chefjennoc@gmail.com with any thoughts or questions and don’t forget to check out the listings for our cooking classes. This could be a great way to get started with those whole foods.

Thanks for visiting, Chef Jenn