Last Friday, my culinary school catered a dinner in Joel Salatin’s honor. The event was organized by the volunteers in charge of the Live Green Expo, for which Mr. Salatin was the keynote speaker.
Chef let me help plan the menu, which was a real honor. To be honest, I reminded him regularly that I wanted to help with this event. He was gracious enough to allow me to sit in on meetings and share my ideas.
If you don’t know much about Mr. Salatin, he’s an inspirational man at the forefront of what he calls ‘beyond organic’ farming.
All of the food was provided by local farmers and producers. We served:
- raw milk cheeses from Lucky Layla
- deviled eggs and chicken wings from Windy Meadows Family Farm
- salads made of greens grown by farmers for my CSA, Squeezepenny
- locally made pasta and pasta sauce
- Texas olive oil from The Texas Olive Ranch
- locally produced honey from The Texas Honeybee Guild
- sliders from locally raised, pastured beef
- organic artisan crackers from Dr. Kracker
We were so busy serving on Friday that I didn’t get any food pictures myself. (I know…bad food blogger behavior! I couldn’t in good conscience run around and take pictures when our guests needed more sliders and chicken wings.) My good friend and founder of Squeezepenny CSA, Penny, was generous enough to share some of her pictures with me.
This is Penny and Mr. Salatin. If you live in the Dallas area and are interested in joining a CSA, please visit Squeezepenny’s website. Joe and I have thoroughly enjoyed every single piece of produce we’ve received.
At the end of the event, Mr. Salatin gave a short speech. He talked about the our desire to connect our food with where it comes from. I was too tired and excited all at once to take notes, so I’d be doing him a disservice if I tried to quote him.
There was a hallowed feeling in the air as Mr. Salatin spoke of how each farmer carefully produced the ingredients that our school then used to create a meal that was collectively shared. A parallel became apparent for me between locally grown food and cooking. They’re art forms, both stemming from a love of good food and a deep need to share it with others. On Friday, the sacredness came from marrying the two.
And, yes, I got my apron signed by Mr. Joel Salatin himself. His kindness, humbleness, and generosity of spirit were illuminating. I watched as he tasted foods from different local providers. I wasn’t close enough to hear what he said about the food but the look in his eyes his approving stature said it all.
I’ve decided to visit some local providers in my area and share them with you in the upcoming months. Maybe you’ll be inspired to join a local CSA, build a raised bed garden, or seek out pasture raised meats.
This kind of change has been very slow for us – and we don’t eat everything local. I buy organic when I can and have started to use more locally produced foods. Not at all perfect, but making progress feels good.
What locally produced foods are available to you?