Book and a Beer

the omnivore's dilemmaThere are few things better than a beautiful San Diego night and a cold pint of local ale.  Last night Meg, Adam and I went to the Stone Brewing Company in Escondido, CA to attend their first "Book and a Beer" Club.  Appropriately, the first book up for discussion was the Omnivore’s Dilemma.  I say "appropriately" because Stone Brewing Company and World Bistro practices many of the concepts highlighted in Michael Pollen’s book.  They buy locally, organically and represent the best of the slow food movement whenever possible.  This was Greg Koch’s, vision when he co-founded the company, and I would like to use this blog posting to highlight some of the interesting people I met and the perspectives I gained.

Greg Koch and the vision of Stone
Greg spoke about how far the company has come but also about how far he still needs to go before he will satisfied with the ethical food quality served at his restaurant.   This is an evolving process that takes time and lots of research.  Stone has a great menu filled with tons of the freshest ingredients from the area.  Almost any dish can be made vegetarian, and regardless of your choice,  you can be assured that a great deal of thought has gone into the creation and preparation of your meal.  One thing I learned… if you’re a farmer that raises grass-fed beef organically and in CA, you may want to give Greg a call…because he’s looking for it.  Did I mention the ice cold locally brewed beer?  It’s the best!

Barry Logan and La Milpa Organica
Other interesting topics and points discussed last night came from Barry Logan, owner and operator of La Milpa Organica, and his son Nick.  La Milpa Organica is an organic farm located in Escondido that supplies fresh, local, organic produce to Stone Brewing Company and other businesses in the area.  To learn more about the farm, check out the excellent write-up here.  Both Barry and Nick believe in "powering down" which is a simple concept to encourage us to minimize our use of energy and cut it out where it is not necessary.  This may sound a bit daunting…but it is really easy.  How?  We can all start by driving a little bit less less, buying a lot more local, eating more whole (unprocessed), and turning off the lights when we leave the room. 

Above and beyond everything they spoke about, there were two things Barry and Nick said last night really struck a chord with me.  The first was "Know your farmer, know your food" and the second was "Old food from far away".  Both of these highlight how we have lost touch with where our food comes from.   Can we really be sure of the contents making up our food and the process by which it reached us if we don’t know where it came from?   Knowing and trusting the person that grows the food you eat removes the ethical and safety questions that are arising on a daily basis.   The key is that this food that hasn’t been shipped across the country (or planet), it’s fresh, ripe and in season.   Barry and Nick remind us to ask not "How long will this food last," but "How long before I can eat it?"

David Bronner and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps
David Bronner from Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps also attended the discussion last night.  David is a dedicated vegan that is a strong proponent of organics and fair-trade.  He spoke about Michael Pollen’s first book "The Botony of Desire" and how genetically modified organisms are infiltrating our food system.  He also discussed the notion of "beyond organic," meaning there are different types of organic foods.  The "organic" food you buy at the supermarket was probably produced on a large commercial farm that could be some distance away.  While they don’t use chemical fertilizers or pesticides, they still use a great deal of petroleum to facilitate shipping and refrigeration.   The notion of "beyond organic" takes the definition of healthy organic beyond the avoidance of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and encourages us to pay attention to where the food is produced.   Food produced locally does not have unnecessary energy calories caused by refrigeration or food "miles."

Eric, Meg & Adam’s Take

After the discussion ended, the three of us grabbed a table, a few more Stone IPAs and had a delicious local, organic dinner.  Overall, I’d say the first Book and a Beer group was a rousing success and given the large number of people that showed up for it (at least 40), we should make sure to get there early for the next one.  Cheers!

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