“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life.” – Wendell Berry
To me and to many others, conscious choices often start in the kitchen. Growing up, my mother would bake homemade bread pretty regularly, (full disclosure: we had a bread making machine) which I now realize was quite the luxury. Living in a culture of convenience, where food is regarded as something you can easily obtain or throwaway rather than the precious resource it truly is, I constantly feel as though I’m toeing the line between making right and wrong choices. Even with the memory of homemade bread and garden-grown veggies in my mind, it’s truly difficult not to succumb to the lure of cheap, plastic-wrapped, forever-fresh foods from the local grocery store.
Cue Ilona Oppenheim’s earth-shattering cookbook Savor: Rustic Recipes Inspired by Forest, Field, And Farm. In the midst of my wavering, I came across this gorgeous book when it caught my eye in an interior design shop. I remember impulsively grabbing it off the shelf, flipping through a handful of pages and deciding that that was enough to make a purchase. My lack of self-control (let’s call it instinct) proved to be right because I could hardly dream up a more beautiful, informative and helpful book to guide me through the complicated world of modern eats.
A native Swiss, Ilona now lives in Aspen—yes, that Aspen—with her husband and two kids, interspersing short vignettes of her life in both worlds in-between gorgeous recipes and photos. With mincing words, Ilona gives her opinion on what it means to eat “real” foods, saying,
Because I grew up among farms, I’ve always been troubled by the disconnect between mass-produced food and the true sources of our daily nutrition. My children, Hendrix and Liloo, know that food doesn’t just appear from an inanimate object like the refrigerator or “grow” at the supermarket…Whenever I’m in the city, I realize that it’s a treasure-hunt to find farm-fresh [foods]. But locally grown food is more nutritious and tastes better because it spends less time in transit and is picked when it’s ripe.
One of the things I love so much about Savor is the simplicity and approachable recipes. Things like homemade dairy products, breads and even home-milled flours suddenly seem attainable to me—someone who lives in a second-floor apartment in the suburbs.
It’s saddening to think that fresh, home cooked food is “luxurious” and I still struggle to wrap my head around how we got here as a society, yet, Ilona’s sage advice and practical wisdom makes even foraging for pine nuts and mushrooms closer to reality than fantasy. Her recipe for homemade yogurt is surprisingly easy and one of my favorites.
Whether or not you are ready to go all in on made-from-scratch recipes and farm stand ingredients only, Savor’s main message is this: know where and who your food comes from, savor all life and connect to the land around you. So long as we are grounded in these few basic yet vital food commandments we stand a much better chance at truly making a change.
I’ve written some more about eating local, organic + in-season foods on these websites…
- 5 Convincing Reasons to Shop Local for Your Produce via The Good Trade
- Interview with Robyn O’Brien, Food Activist + Mama via Mother Mag
- Organic Food 101: Myths, Truths + Everything In Between via The Good Trade
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