Monday, January 11, 2010

Food, Inc.

Over the summer a truly excellent film came out, Food, Inc. Having just recently re watched it I decided to do write about it a little.

Food, Inc. uncovers and talks about what is going on in the American food industry today. It discusses the impact that mass meat, corn and soybean production has on our health, our planet, and our humanity. It sheds light on a subject that many Americans are relatively unfamiliar with. And although the situation may seem grim at the moment, the film also shows that there is hope to turn things around. To stray away from the "American Diet" which consists of fast food, fats, salts, and sugar; to embrace the slow food movement and return to real food.

I strongly believe that everyone in America should see this movie. Americans owe it to themselves to educate themselves about the food crisis we are currently in. So if you are reading this, please do yourself a favor and go watch this movie. It will change the way you view the mainstream food of today.

A votre santé.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Seasonal Produce

Eating seasonally is very important. First off when I say eating seasonally I mean eating the fruits and vegetables that are grown naturally during a specific season of the year. It is important to try and eat seasonally for several reasons. First off vegetables and fruits in season are produced locally, and there is also a greater abundance of the product. This means that the fruit or vegetable will be coming from from a nearby farm, and it will be cheaper. Seasonal produce will also taste better, because it is traveling a shorter distance and is therefore, fresher. Eating seasonally is very sustainable and good just about every way you spin it. If you eat fruits and vegetables seasonally, year round, your diet will be much more diverse, making you and the earth healthier in the process.
Its winter right now, so root vegetables and other vegetables like squash and kale are being grown right now, but there is lots more. For a good complete list of the seasonality of fruits and vegetables, click here. Of course produce in season differs from place to place, so head on over to your local farm market and check out whats seasonal.

A votre santé.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


One of the most important aspects of cooking is the ingredients. It is extremely important to use the freshest and best quality ingredients you can get your hands on. Here are a few essentials to get you started.

Good quality organic eggs - In my prior post about omelets I briefly touched on how important it is to buy free-range, organic eggs. There are many reasons for this. The majority of eggs on the market today are terrible. They are produced by hens that have not moved nor seen real sunshine for their entire lives. Their wellbeing is about as important as a blade of grass as far as the large egg producing companies are concerned. When looking for eggs to buy try to get them at a local farm market, organic if possible. When buying at a supermarket only settle for free-range, cage-free, organic eggs. They may cost a dollar or two more but they are worth every extra dollar because of both the taste and humane benefits.

Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - Olive oil is a staple in my kitchen and every kitchen I have ever worked in. There is a reason for this. For starters it is very versatile. You can use it for for just about anything that requires oil in cooking. You can use it in salad dressings. You can drizzle it over a dish as a finisher. The possibilities are endless. To say olive oil is good for your health is an understatement. It is high in monounsaturated fat (the good kind), which protects against heart disease. It is rich in antioxidants and oleic acid, which protect against free radicals, cell damaging agents. Olive oil is also an anti-inflammatory. There are lots more health benefits and full explanations on olive oil at

When buying olive oil make sure that it is cold pressed, extra-virgin, and organic. There are lots of terrible olive oils on the market but rest assured you can be guaranteed that your product is good if you look for those three things. Anything less than this is really just a waste of money. When in a supermarket looking for a good extra-virgin olive oil to buy, pick one out from the back of the shelf, as it will have been exposed to light less than the ones up front. When olive oil is exposed to light and left uncovered it oxidizes, causing its nutritional benefits to decline. Store it in a dark place, away from light and tightly shut for best results. And also when cooking with it keep the heat on the low side, as it retains more flavor and more health benefits when at a low temperature (below 300 degrees). Of course when consuming raw you get the maximum health benefits. There is a reason why people in the Mediterranean are so healthy and happy, and the role olive oil plays in their diet is a large reason why.

Sea Salt - Good sea salt is something any good kitchen cannot live without. It helps bring out the flavor in just about everything, and can liven up a dish in just a pinch or two. Without salt, the culinary world would not be what it is today.

There is a big difference between your standard "table salt," and "sea salt." Table salt is bleached and stripped of all minerals it previously contained, then iodine is added. Sea salt is completely natural, nothing taken away and nothing added. Table salt not only tastes terrible, it is also not good for you. It is like comparing wonderbread to a freshly baked baguette. There is no comparison in terms of taste, smell, and health benefits. There is no reason why anybody should use table salt when they could be using sea salt. There are many different consistencies to choose from when buying sea salt, from coarse to fine. You can usually find quite a few different varieties, so pick one out you like best. Also some sea salts such as "fleur de sel" should not be used in the actual cooking process itself, only at the end, so make sure you find an everyday sea salt. If you aren't already, I urge you to start using sea salt now.

Spices - Spices add a whole other dimension to cooking, they can make dishes spicy, aromatic, and very flavorful when used sparingly and not overdone. They can be the difference maker between a good dish and a memorable dish. Its always a good idea to keep at least a couple jars around, but the more the better. Here are some of my personal favorites: cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cumin, coriander, and pepper to name a few. You bring out the most flavor in spices by toasting them first, its not necessary but if you have the time just put whatever you going to use in a small pan and toast it on low heat for a minute or two, but be sure not to burn them. Also remember to keep the spice jars tightly shut, as the spices will loose their freshness if they are left out uncovered for too long.

Honey - Honey is a great sweetener for about everything that could use it. Its great on yogurt, good on toast, in soups, and in desserts to name a few. It can also be very good for you. When buying honey try to get it local. New Morning Farm carries some great honey from a neighboring farm in Pennsylvania which is great, but you can of course find great honey where ever you live. Whats important about buying honey local is that it is helping sustain your entire local ecosystem, the bees pollinate the flowers, fruits, and other crops near by and then make honey. Consuming this honey that has been created entirely in your local ecosystem is both good for you and the area you live in.

There are many other things that are important in a kitchen. I have given you only a few here but I hope that they serve you well.

Until next time.

A votre santé.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hey everyone this is my first post since arriving in Rennes, France so I thought I would touch on their attitude towards food. Here in France they have a huge organic (biologique) movement. The pictures shown here are from the massive Lices Market here in Rennes, which contains farmers from all over Brittany, the majority of which are organic and local. Although there are still large supermarkets and fast food shops, the majority of France still understands the importance of eating real food that takes time to eat. Rather than viewing meals as a time to speed by without much thought, they embrace and enjoy the time spent eating. In France, food is not taken for granted, they know that food correlates to happiness. This is something
I think we should all try to emulate.

A votre santé.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Something I do every time I get back from New Morning Farm every Saturday is to make omelets for the family using only ingredients picked up that morning. Not only do they keep you feeling great all day, but they also don't weigh you down.

The omelet shown here consists of crimini mushrooms, onion, heirloom tomatoes, kale, basil, and some arugula added on at the very end.

The preparation of omelets like these take no time and the cooking time takes even less.

Here are the measurements for this one:

- 2-3 free range organic eggs (per person depending on how hungry you are)
- 3-4 crimini mushrooms (gently washed or brushed to remove excess dirt), sliced roughly (per person)
- a handful of a peeled, diced yellow onion(half a large one is suitable for about 3 people)
- 4 pieces of a small tomato per person(if you want to take out the seeds go ahead)
- 1 large kale leaf chopped small (suitable for 4 people)
- 1 handful of washed and dried arugula (per person)
- 2 medium sized basil leaves sliced somewhat thinly (per person)
- sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
- a splash of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil (enough to coat pan, adding another splash after each omelet)

Once you have all of the ingredients ready its time to create. Heat a pan (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat, whisk together the eggs in a small bowl until they are combined and add the salt and pepper (a pinch of both should do it). Now add the olive oil and move it around the pan until it is coated completely. Pour the eggs into the pan and immediately reduce the heat to low (to prevent the eggs from cooking too fast and too much). You can now start to add the rest of your ingredients, toss in the sliced basil, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and kale. By this time the the eggs should be about done (if they look too watery then you can continue cooking them until they are a little firmer, depending on how you like them). Give the pan a shake and move the omelet around to prevent sticking (it should still be circular). You can now use a spatula to fold half of the omelet over on top of the other half, then use your spatula again and transfer the omelet to a plate. Garnish with the arugula and drizzle with a little more olive oil and some lemon juice. Once you get the hang of this it becomes quite simple, and is just about the healthiest and, if you ask me, delicious way to start your day (or even to end your night).

As you will notice the omelet stuffing is quite raw, however the heat of the eggs cause the ingredients to develop their flavor a little more and mix lightly.

I want to clear up a very common misconception right here, right now--that egg yolks are bad for you and egg whites are good for you. This isn't true. Eating the whole egg is ideal for several reasons. The first is that you get protein and omega 3 fatty acids (promotes brain health) from the entire egg, not just the white. For those of you who care about your calorie intake, eggs only have about 68 calories. There are many other health benefits to eggs which I will not get into right now, but if you would like to look into it more go to the World's Healthiest Foods website. It has fantastic information on tons of different foods.

This post is the last I will make in America for 9 months, for I will be spending my senior year of high school in Rennes, France. I will post as often as I can while I am there, about 1-2 times a week. It should be quite an adventure and I look forward to sharing tidbits of information I pick up about food over there, I hear they take it rather seriously...

A votre santé.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Start

Hello my name is Arran Cooper and I am a 17 year old chef with a dream and a mission. I am determined to inform people about the value of organic and local produce and the importance it carries from both a nutritional and environmental standpoint.

So this is where it all begins. For practically every Saturday of my 17 year old life I have picked myself up out of bed obscenely early to make my way down to the New Morning Farm farmers market. I do this because as a young budding chef I want only the best ingredients, and what better way to get them than by supporting a local organic farm and buying their food which has not been driven from thousands of miles away. It is both healthy for you and healthy for the world.

In this blog I will begin to share with you recipes and insights on nutrition and organic food in hopes of bringing all of you into the kitchen.

A votre santé.