Cultivating Good: Food for Body and Soul
by Linda Milks
We eat to fuel our bodies and keep us healthy, but most of us also eat because we love good food. I was fortunate to participate in a media event for IFWTWA (International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association) in Old Town Temecula at the Cultivating Good Center.
Cultivating Good is the parent company owned by Don Webber and Leah Di Bernardo. This company consists of the E.A.T (Extraordinary Artisan Table) Marketplace, Harvest2U, and E.A.T@Home.
The mission of Cultivating Good is to provide good, clean, fairly produced food through direct purchasing and solid relationships with farmers, ranchers and food artisans. The goal is to help keep alive the local family farm heritage and sustain the local food shed. ("Food shed" refers to the geographic region that includes where the food is grown, harvested, marketed and consumed. The Somali Bantu farmers pictured are examples of the local farmers who supply produce to Cultivating Good.)
We started the day with a quick glance inside E.A.T Marketplace. I was delighted by the sight of a contemporary atmosphere with a warm, community feel. Long, rustic tables are surrounded by display cases full of enticing deli food as well as a coffee and juicing bar.
After our look inside the marketplace, we gathered to learn more about what Cultivating Good has to offer as we were greeted with a Caramel Apple Smoothie and a farm-to-plate lunch.
Some of the delectable dishes we tasted were the Market Salad of Organic Farm Greens with Drake Goat Cheese, Cranberries, and Spiced Walnuts as well as a Butternut Roasted Squash and Drake Goat Cheese Flatbread. The BBQ Ranch Chicken Wrap with Avocado, Shredded Carrots, Cabbage, and Organic Greens awakened all of our taste buds.
These dishes were followed with mouth-watering Bacon Donuts, Orange Turmeric Donuts, and Vanilla and Pistachio Macaroons that were as beautifully presented as they were to eat.
E.A.T Marketplace is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and offers tasty and creative food that’s fresh and good for your body. Not only is the food organic, but much of what is prepared is either paleo, vegan, or gluten free.
Mario Batali and Gordon Ramsay have become household names thanks to the Food Network. Luckily for us in the Inland Empire of Southern California, we have Chef Matt Cassell, who trained and worked with both of these culinary superstars in New York, and now is the chef at Temecula’s E.A.T Marketplace.
E.A.T employees work on a local farm as part of their training to work at the marketplace. They can be found working alongside row crop farmers and assisting in milking sheep. All of this experience teaches the employees more about their own food supply as well as the food their customers eat.
A wide variety of items appear on the menu, including scrumptious breakfast options such as Southern Italian Polenta Grits with Crispy Bacon, Shaved Pecorino, Herbs and Crème Fraiche and Seasonal Baked French Toast topped with Caramel Drizzle and Organic Whipped Cream. Check out their website at www.eatmarketplace.com.
Harvest 2U is the branch of Cultivating Good that delivers farm fresh produce and meats to your door. They currently work with 26 farmers and ranchers. The size of these farms varies from three to 25 acres. Harvest 2U looks for farmers who grow a wide variety of crops so that the consumer gets 10 to 15 different items in a box. In order for a farm to be a regular Harvest 2U supplier, there must be approximately 45 varieties of produce growing at a time. Because the crops are picked locally and fresh, the Harvest 2U customers have the experience of eating seasonally.
Harvest 2U forages from a 50-mile radius so they can get the produce to families within 36 hours, which is extremely important because food loses up to 75 percent of its nutritional value in the five to seven days after picking. Some of the packaging is done at the farms and some is brought back to the company headquarters. Then each box is either delivered to the customer’s front door or can be picked up at numerous locations, including the Cultivating Good Center in Old Town Temecula.
The variety of packages available offers both large and small families an opportunity to participate in this program. You can choose the Family Harvest with 10 to 14 different fresh items or the Couple’s Harvest consisting of 8 to 12 varieties of produce. Many people want raw fruits and vegetables for juicing. Harvest 2U offers a Green Juicer with greens, fruits and vegetables to make about 20 drinks or a Couple’s Juicer with fewer fruits and vegetables. Both a weekly and a bi-weekly program are offered to meet the customer’s needs. Recipes are found in each delivered box. The website for ordering from Harvest 2U is www.harvest2u.com.
E.A.T@Home, the third branch of Cultivating Good, is a home delivery service offering organic, artisan-prepared meals. You have a choice of from five to ten meals delivered a week. As an example, two items on a recent menu are the Roasted Organic Chicken with Mashed Yam and Farm Veggies or Roasted Pork Loins over Organic Polenta Grits. E.A.T@Home Fitness offers a choice of five to ten meals that are designed for the athlete or anyone else wanting more dense protein and complex carbs in their diet. A couple of choices for meals might be a Grain-Free Cauliflower Crust Pizza or Grilled Salmon with Farm Veggies. For more information or to order from Eat@Home go to the website at email@example.com.
We left our experience with lots of good feelings about our healthy eating options in our local community. We were also pleased when Cultivating Good owners, Don Webber (left in photo) and Leah De Bernardo (center), presented a check for the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association's scholarship fund to our president, Linda Kissam (right). The address of E.A.T. Marketplace is 28410 Old Town Front Street, in Temecula, California.
The following is one of the tantalizing recipes you might find in your Harvest 2U delivery box:
BRUSSEL SPROUTS WITH BACON & PARMESAN
2 (10-ounce) packages Brussels sprouts
2-ounce piece slab bacon cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup coarsely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil (garlic infused is a good choice)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Wash and then peel off any loose or damaged leaves from the sprouts. Trim the root end and cut each sprout in half. (I use a food processor with the top slicing blade and it shreds them perfectly for this dish. You can also cut them each individually by slicing each sprout in half, laying them on their bellies, and then cutting them from top to bottom in thin strips.)
Shred the Pecorino Romano. Toss shredded sprouts in a large bowl with olive oil, salt & ground pepper. Cook the bacon and walnuts in a large skillet over medium heat until bacon just begins to crisp and walnuts are toasted, about 4 minutes. Transfer the bacon and walnuts with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside. Add the bacon & walnuts to sprouts, toss everything together, then put all ingredients into a greased ovenproof baking dish. Top with Pecorino cheese (mixing in just a bit so cheese does not burn on top) and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until sprouts are golden brown.
*Vegetarians can substitute garlic-infused olive oil in place of bacon!
Serves 3-4 people
Linda Milks, a former English teacher, is a food, wine and travel writer living in Southern California. Linda has been involved in the culinary arts throughout the years. She publishes on a variety of sites including FoodWineTravelChix.com and Life-Uncorked.com and has a passion for sharing her experiences with her readers.
Photos by Todd Montgomery.