Within the past week, I watched the documentary “Cooked” on Netflix. Based on Michael Pollan's book, the series focuses on the techniques of how food was traditionally prepared and how those techniques have survived in some cultures but were changed or even lost altogether in others. Each episode focuses on one form of cooking starting with fire, moving on to water, air, and eventually earth. Each also incorporates one or more cultures' traditional use of those techniques and how they are still implemented today. Through the use of fire, aboriginals in Australia hunt iguanas and cook their meals by burying their catch in ashes. Water creates a blending of spices and flavors to transform the raw components of say, a stew or Indian cuisine, which he goes into depth discussing. Pollan used Moroccan-made bread to exemplify how bacteria from the air allows the dough to rise and become the staple food of many cultures. The Earth is where microbes, that are essential to our gut biota, are able to ferment foods such as kimchi and cheeses. One of Pollan's keynotes is that raw food is transformed through cooking to create delicious and more nutritious meals.
Since moving to Walpole Valley Farms, I have definitely become more aware of where my food is coming from and how much more nutritious it is when it is raised and prepared in the most basic ways. I love knowing that our animals are raised off the land in the most natural environment we can provide. Watching this documentary opened my mind and allowed me to compare my life in the suburbs of Philadelphia to this farming lifestyle. The meats that I eat are natural and not injected with preservatives and the fruits and vegetables come from the gardens where sprays are not used. I wondered why I had not eaten like this before and quickly figured out that it's because the nearest pasture based farm to my hometown was an hour and a half away. If it was difficult for me to find a location and I knew what I was looking for, it would probably never occur to others to search for a better food source than the convenient grocery store in their hometown. It really is important to keep foods as natural as possible to get the most nutrients out of them and “Cooked” does a great job at bringing this into focus. I definitely recommend watching the series and checking out the book if you're interested in learning a few things about the source of food, cultures, and preparation techniques!