The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

In the Kitchen with Myra Goodman

In the Kitchen with Myra Goodman

In the Kitchen

October 24, 2010

Myra Goodman founded Earthbound Farm in 1984 with her husband Drew. She has been dedicated to the cause of growing safe, fresh, and healthy organic produce for more than two decades. Her most recent cookbook, THE EARTHBOUND COOK: 250 Recipes for Delicious Food and a Healthy Planet, is a guide to making the kitchen more eco-friendly while cooking nutritious meals. We talked to Goodman about how the right food choices can positively impact the environment. 

What is the main focus of your cooking?
I have one child still at home, a 17-year old son who plays football and lacrosse. I try to have a nutritious and delicious home-cooked meal every night to draw him home for dinner and give our family the chance to sit down together and catch up. That’s very important to me. The food I cook mid-week is pretty fast, and I often try to have one meal yield leftovers for an even easier-to-prepare meal later in the week.
Is there a particular nutritional focus of your menus?
I always try to include seasonal vegetables, protein and try to serve whole carbohydrates whenever possible – lots of roasted yams and winter squash in my house – and I’m serving more brown rice and whole wheat pasta these days.
What is your relationship with local farmers?
I love our local farmer’s market. It’s a huge treat for me to be able to browse stalls of fresh picked produce and chat with the farmers that grew it. Earthbound Farm’s farm stand in Carmel Valley brings in a lot of local produce, and this time of year most Earthbound Farm growers are farming close by. My favorite local “farmer” is our family – the garden we have outside our kitchen. Nothing beats our just-picked heirloom tomatoes and basil!
Are you incorporating locally grown foods into your dishes? How?
Food in season is usually the most delicious tasting, most nutritious and most affordable. My cooking is usually inspired by the harvest. My husband and I just picked most of our tomato bed Sunday since the rain was starting. From our harvest, we made heirloom tomato sauce for dinner and froze four quarts for a mid-winter treat. I don’t usually shop for dinner with a pre-conceived idea of what vegetable I will serve. What ever looks the freshest and most tempting ends up on our plates, and it’s almost always something at its seasonal peak. I make tons of pesto mid-summer, and then usually take a break in winter when basil is out of season. I move from nectarine and berry cobblers to apple pies as summer turns to fall.
How important is sustainability?
I think it’s essential that people become more knowledgeable about how to eat more sustainably. Our food choices have a tremendous impact on the environment, and there are lots of habits we can improve in the kitchen to conserve resources. Our consumption habits have led to many environmental problems that affect our personal health and put our children and their children in danger. Changing our consumption habits can help resolve a lot of these issues. It’s very empowering, actually.
What's also very important to me is how much more I enjoy my food when I know it was produced in ways that are healthy for the environment as well as my body. I enjoy my meat much more knowing that it was raised humanely, and my seafood more knowing it was wasn’t an endangered species or fished in ways that harm the ocean environment.
How important is traceability?
Traceability and transparency in our food system is very important. Today, more and more people are taking a great interest in where their food comes from and how it’s produced. Paying attention to this is a good thing, something we deserve to know. The more transparency we demand, the better our food system will become, I think. And traceability is a fundamental part of that improvement – did this food come from where we think it did? And, beyond that, being able to identify an item linked to any kind of problem and get it out of commerce quickly helps build confidence in our food system.  
What steps do you take toward conservation at Earthbound Farm?
Organic farming, by its very nature, helps protect the environment in a few ways. In 2010 alone, our organic farming on more than 35,000 acres will avoid use of over 338,000 pounds of toxic and persistent pesticides; avoid use of nearly 11.2 million pounds of synthetic fertilizers; conserve an estimated 1.8 million gallons of petroleum by avoiding the use of petroleum-based pesticides and fertilizers; and fight global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, at an estimated rate equivalent to taking more than 7,800 cars off the road.
We’ve also committed ourselves to seek sustainability in other parts of our business. We’ve switched to 100% post-consumer recycled PET for our plastic salad containers (this prevents nearly 17,000 tons of CO2 emissions) and to 99% post-consumer/1% post-industrial recycled corrugate for our shipping cartons (this saves more than 106,000 trees), thus reducing our environmental impact while helping to create market demand for more environmentally responsible post-consumer recycled materials.

What are the major concerns today of your readers when it comes to making meals at home? And how are you addressing them?
I think many people are concerned with time and money, but many are also insecure in the kitchen. My cookbooks offer many quick and easy recipes, and also explanations of many foods they may not be familiar with (take fennel or persimmons, for example). I include a lot of information about why you want to eat these less familiar foods, how to select them, store them and prepare them.
One of the most interesting things is that economy and ecology often go hand-in-hand. The Earthbound Cook explains how eating less meat (especially red meat) can save a tremendous amount of resources, while also being easy on your wallet. Many meatless entrees are not only delicious and healthy for the planet and your body, but also very affordable. Beans, rice and other grains and pasta are all economical meal choices, and today we have so many wonderful varieties to choose from.

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