Unfortunately, there's fire. As smoke from the fires in Ventura drifts into the skies around Santa Cruz, our thoughts and prayers go to our friends and families in Ventura and the surrounding areas. I just got off the phone with one of my closest childhood and lifelong friend, Hub, and his home was virtually the only one in his Ventura neighborhood to survive. Every other house on his street and in the neighborhood above and below his was burned to the ground. Have a look at the photo image for this blog- Hub's house is the one in the lower right. They and all of their neighbors escaped Monday night and returned today, most to find nothing left except smoldering ashes. It makes us all realize that we must be thankful for what we have.
But it also made me think realize how thankful I am for what many people do. Hub works for a man and a company, Yvon Chouinard and Patagonia, for whom I have the utmost respect, and whom we try to emulate at Foodsmith. Patagonia has complete transparency in their supply chain, chooses not to buy the "industry standard" materials for their products if they don't meet Patagonia's moral standards, and instead continually chooses to innovate to create socially and environmentally beneficial products and material supply chains. Check out this video about Hub and Patagonia developing a new non toxic and sustainable material process for their wetsuits called Yulex. And the best thing is that, instead of trying to patent the material process, Patagonia offered to share it with the entire wetsuit manufacturing industry. For free. The world's first neoprene (petroleum based) wetsuit.
Now what does this have to do with food and Foodsmith, you ask? Well, I was driving home from the kitchen and saw two bumper stickers on cars on the way home. One said "The Earth does not belong to man- Man belongs to the Earth- Chief Seattle" and the other said "The More You Give, The More You Get." While both statements on the stickers are true, the first is a complete hoax- Chief Seattle never said that phrase which has become one of the biggest folk messages ever created. That phrase was written for a screenplay in the early 1970's and was attributed to Chief Seattle. But it has fooled millions as far as it's origin and authenticity. Now since it's simply a bumper sticker, and is, in fact, a really nice anecdote, so what's the harm? Truth in labeling in the food business has been a very smoke and mirrors kind of industry. Big Food and Big Chemical (yes, they go hand in hand!) have been quietly adding more and more processed chemically altered "food" to our supermarkets and dinner plates in the past 30 years, and creating new words and labels to dupe us into thinking it's not only safe, but actually healthy! Words like "natural" and "minimally processed" make their way onto food labels with upwards of 20 ingredients you can't pronounce! And what is an "unnatural" chicken anyway? Speaking of chicken, you might see this on a poultry label "Grown without the use of hormones or steroids." or something like that. Look closer- there is likely an asterisk after the statement. Gaze down and find the asterisk and it will read "Federal law prohibits the use of hormones and steroids in poultry." Ha! Really? So they are marketing the fact that they aren't breaking the law?? Truly commendable! Lucky for you, we don't buy from those companies at Foodsmith. We buy from Deistel Turkey Ranch near Sonora. We buy Mary's Chicken and Smart Chicken. We buy grass fed beef, and wild caught white shrimp, and the most amazing salmon from my friend John B.'s salmon farm in New Zealand- the world's first Monterey Seafood Watch Green rated salmon farm in the world- where the fish live in pristine glacier fed mineral rich frigid waters at the base on Mt Cook. We buy produce from Happy Boy Farms, Coke Farm, Route 1 Farm. We buy the meal trays for your meals from World Centric in Petaluma, whose Sales Manager told me that the company had so many 'Green" certifications it was almost like "green handcuffs", and those trays are made from repurposed plant fiber and corn and have absolutely ZERO plastic (petroleum based- see a pattern here?) in them or, subsequently, in your food. We use completely reusable coolers from SoCal company Packit, who sent us the first prototype of their new grocery cooler bag that you find on your doorstep each Monday and Thursday, to eliminate the packaging and wasteful ice packs and insulation used by all the other meal delivery companies.
Why do we go to all the trouble of putting on these "green handcuffs" every day? Because there is another fire burning in this community and this country- the burning desire by more and more people to demand "clean" food and to know what is in, and to choose what is not in, their food. That's why we started Foodsmith. We will likely never be as big a company as Patagonia, nor have the broad reaching social and environmental impact that they have, but we will push forward sourcing and cooking the freshest, unprocessed and additive free food anywhere for you. And, like Patagonia, we are happy to share. We donate meals to kids and families and will continue to expand our donations as we grow. We are happy to share our recipes and our "processes" (think chopping, sautéeing, baking, etc.- the only "processes" in our food!) with anyone. So, like Patagonia, as we grow, our values will remain non-negotiable.
Enjoy this week's menu, and thanks for supporting Foodsmith, and thanks for listening. Think good thoughts for our friends and families in Ventura County as these fires rage on, but make sure the fire for transparency in sourcing and labeling in the food industry burns in you! Choose clean food, choose Foodsmith.