La Dolce Vita by Alastair Gregor
Summer time and the living is easy; it’s the time of year when the curious get out and seek new foods, explore what’s in season and experiment with the tastiest, freshest produce of the year. Good Eats is here to bring you La Dolce Vita – The Sweet Life – and we invite you to join us on a culinary adventure every month.
Food is my passion; it is what I know and what brings people together in laughter, light and love. Food is literally medicine for the body and the powerful health benefits of choosing the freshest ingredients help keep you healthy and uplift you when you’re feeling down. Food is fun! It allows you to travel to different cultures and escape the mundane without leaving your hometown.
This summer, I’m throwing down a challenge to our readers to break the habit of doing what you have always done. It’s time to get honest with yourself and stop putting off what you have wanted to do for so long. If you haven’t already done it, go through all your cupboards and fridge and toss out everything that is out-of-date, old or suspect. It’s also time to replace all your old herbs and spices. If they are more than six months old, they have oxidized and aren’t at their freshest – kind of like eating a stale cookie. Remember to replace all your cooking oils and fats with purely organic oils.
Take time for you and your family and friends. Take time to savour the bounty nature provides. Do this by seeking the freshest, healthiest and most nutritious produce you can find. It’s the time of year to get active and to get out there to the farmers markets and fill up on organic produce. Why organic? Because it’s the best for you and for the environment and it tastes great. Your cells contain 20 percent foreign RNA (the building blocks of nature), which comes from the food you eat. Your body uses it to make new cells so you literally are what you eat. The healthier the produce, the healthier you will be.
You have to understand the difference between natural and organic foods. It’s important to realize the “natural” label is not regulated and does not provide a guarantee of being free of genetically engineered ingredients (GMO’s) or synthetic pesticides and additives. Currently, the only label that can protect you against genetically engineered ingredients and other unsavoury additives is the “USDA 100% Organic” label, which must contain only organically produced materials. In order to qualify as organic, a product must be grown and processed using organic farming methods that recycle resources and promote biodiversity and sustainability.
So where to get organic crops which are grown without synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes, petroleum-based fertilizers or sewage sludge-based fertilizers? Most towns feature organic co-ops and organic food stores. Take a trip to your local market and ask. Most markets today carry a broad selection of organic foods and many of the prices are in line with conventional foods so there is no reason not to eat organic.
For a true shopping experience, you can take day trips or weekend trips with friends and family. Explore the Fraser Valley, head towards Agassiz and do some of the Circle Farm Tours, www.circlefarmtour.com. You can also search the internet for many of your local summer food festivals. Head over to Vancouver Island or through the Okanagan for a broad selection of the freshest, tastiest ingredients right from the farmer: farm fresh eggs, honey, heirloom varietals and the freshest of specialty cheeses; ask the farmer for their favourite recipes and share with your friends.
And whatever you do, start with the freshest simplest ingredients and experiment with new flavours and seasonal favourites. Very soon, you will have new favourites to enjoy.
To advertise your restaurant, food product or service in our Good Eats section, please contact food writer Chef Alastair Gregor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alastair’s life-long passion for food was inherited from his grandmother. He’s an Honours graduate of the Culinary Institute of Vancouver Island at VIU and has been cooking since he was old enough to see over the top of the stove.
photo © Monkey Business Images