There’s a fact of life that a lot of our favorite supermarkets tend to ignore: real, fresh, natural produce is grown in or from the ground. And, surprise! The ground is made of dirt—the best kind of dirt that’s full of nutrients, minerals, water sources, and all of the amazing things that help fresh food grow. Whether it’s root vegetables being pulled from the ground, blackberries being plucked from a bush, or a tomato growing off a vine, organic foods come from the dirt.
So many different stores today have absolutely amazing, gleaming produce stands. Apples are the sizes of baseballs and perfectly shaped. Bananas are—shockingly—available all year round. Cucumbers are shiny, grapes look polished, and lettuce is one perfect head of leaves after another. It would not surprise me to find out that none of those foods ever actually touched the dirt. We’re living in a society that operates on making everything available all the time—so strawberries are grown in controlled environments, bananas are cut before their prime so they can finish the growing process en route to their final destination.
In several ways, this is amazing. We have access to so many foods from around the world, and I am a big supporter of trying new things and exploring different culture’s cuisines. But, in my experience, the best foods are the ones that get your hands a little dirty. The foods that you can watch grow at the market down the street or even in your own backyard. When you can see a tomato change colors or a tree produce its first fruit of the season, it does something special to the flavor.
The At Home Chef uses organic, natural, local products whenever we can—including our meats and fish. We embrace the local economy and support community farms and vendors. I want to buy vegetables from the family that tills their land and watches their bounty grow. When I prepare and plate those foods, the traces and touches of physical dirt are washed off with care, but the flavor always remains.
When you’re considering your next meal, we have one request: don’t be afraid of dirt.