Over the last decade, we have been educated about what is in (or in some cases, is not in) our foods. We are consuming man-made pesticide, insecticides, fertilizers and, for the first time in history, genetically modified food. Combined with the depletion of essential minerals in the soil, we are eating produce that contains only a small fraction of the nutrients that our parents grew up eating. So, it is not surprise that organic food has grown in popularity.
Organic farming in general is pretty interesting as they look for natural ways to produce a bountiful harvest. For example, instead of using pesticide, organic farmers will often use a specific bug to counteract pests that are destroying their crops, like using ladybugs to get rid of aphids.
Some farmers are mimicking ancient techniques like farming over shallow fishponds. De Luz Farms, in the hills west of Temecula, uses an aquaponics system to grow different types of lettuce and herbs. The plants and fish are grown together in one integrated system: the fish waste provides a food source for the growing plants and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in. This creates a sustainable ecosystem where both plants and fish can thrive, and the vegetables grown are certified organic.
In the Restaurant at Ponte, we use local organic fruits and vegetables from Sage Mountain Farm in Anza and Crow’s Pass Farm in Temecula. The vegetables are delivered on the same day they are picked. Talk about freshness! From big multi-colored heirloom tomatoes, purple potatoes, mission figs, and small red torpedo onions; to all the mixed greens to support the ever-popular Wine Country Salad, Ponte has the local flavor (and nutrients) that we are all craving.
In Temecula, we are fortunate enough to live near several amazing organic farms, artisan shops and farmers markets. There is the Saturday Market in Old Town with countless vendors displaying their bounty, or Delaney’s 100 Mile Market which showcases crops and artisan goods from within 100 miles of Temecula. Not to mention the plethora of grocery stores that sell local organic goods like Baron’s, Henry’s, Boney’s, Sprouts, Whole Foods and many more.
So, I encourage you to pick up some locally grown organic vegetables. If you don’t live in the Temecula area, check out www.slowfoodsusa.org to find your local chapter, or sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) membership, which will ship seasonal fruits and vegetables directly to you each month. Use these fresh, organic vegetables next time you try out one of the recipes featured in our newsletter and let us know what you think.