Are you looking for fresh cooking ideas for your family? You may need to start paying more attention to where your food comes from. Fresh cooking starts with fresh ingredients and the fresher your ingredients, the more "gourmet" your cooking is going to taste. Where my food comes from is of great concern to me because I want to make the best dishes that I can. And, I know that the best ingredients yield the best dishes.
You don't need to be a chef to know good ingredients, you don't even have to know how to cook to care where your food comes from. If you can tell the difference between the fresh taste and texture of a raw carrot from your local farmer and the one that was flown from half way around the world, you know the impact of fresh, local foods on your palate.
The nutrients and flavors are better in fresher ingredients, it's obvious whether you cook or not. However, if you can skillfully apply basic cooking methods to the seasonal ingredients, then you really have the most nutritious and best tasting meals you can be proud of and your cooking will be more healthy.
I want to spend this summer examining where our food comes from, who is growing our food, and how they're growing it. You might begin to care about where your food comes from for any of the many reasons that exist: The cost of bad food, better quality foods, ecology and local farming, the flavor of ingredients, the better nutrition, or world-wide labor practices, the use of pesticides, organically grown food, non-irradiated, low carbon footprint...WHATEVER the reason, you should start asking where your food comes from and how it impacts not only your health and nutrition, but the entire world's.
The first step in my investigation is to find a local CSA or Community Supported Agriculture association. I visited Eastern Carolina Organics and had a conversation with their director to ask some basic questions about how I can get started in finding the freshest, most wholesome ingredients in my area.
Eastern Carolina Organics is an organization dedicated to making local, family farmed and organic foods more available to the general population. They support local farmers with education and distribution channels for their products. Here was the first answer I was looking for. They're able to direct me to alternatives over my local mega-grocery store that imports food from all over the world.
Remember, fresh cooking and healthy ideas start with healthy ingredients and you don't have to be cooking gourmet dishes to care or tell the difference. Ask your grocer or local CSA and they will answer questions about how to identify local ingredients over international ingredients, as well as the many benefits to buying local produce. In other words ask yourself, "Why should I care where my food comes from?" You'll find there are many reasons, all of great benefit to you and your community.
See Chef Todd's conversation with his local CSA about fresh cooking.