My name is Jennifer. I don’t have any particular food credentials, but I was born a foodie with a “health nut” streak. I’ve been a vegetable lover and healthy eater most of my life. When I was 21, I started bartending and waiting tables for restaurants and caterers. I’ve always spent lots of time in the kitchen, watching and learning from chefs. I’ve done a number of things professionally, and have earned a couple of college degrees, but have continued to dabble in food work on and off for half my life. Among my food-related hobbies are vintage cookbooks, antique table wares, food history and (more recently) container gardening. I’m passionate about local foods and farming and have a long history working with our local farmers market. I enjoy learning about food and nutrition in my free time.
My love of food started young – my family likes to joke that most of my childhood recollections are “food memories.” One magical moment came when I was so small I had to stand on tip toes to see over the table at the farmers market. But I remember a farmer leaning over to give me a fresh strawberry – the taste was so wonderful, I asked every berry farmer I saw that day for a sample (much to my mom’s chagrin).
Childhood summers meant extended stays with both sets of grandparents in Upstate New York – and fresh vegetables from the garden, every single night! Tomatoes slices with a dollop of mayonnaise, scallions dipped in salt, peas fresh from the pod and tea made from spearmint leaves were among the many treats. My Italian grandmother made delicious meatballs and always put a touch of olive oil and tomato sauce in her green beans. Then there were the homemade jams and fresh baked goods at my Irish grandma’s house. It was a young foodie’s dream!
As a teenager in 80s, my best friend and younger sister were both vegetarians, and it was still considered a fairly exotic lifestyle back then. Picture young teenage girls at a McDonald’s drive-through asking for a Big Mac without the meat. Luckily, our tastes got more sophisticated as we discovered there were other vegetarians in the world we could learn from. I was an ovo-lacto vegetarian for about 8 years, but am now a conscious omnivore who eats a little meat now and then. I do my best to buy animal products from trusted farm cooperatives and local “family-scale” farms, where I know about the animal husbandry conditions and food ingredients. Grass-fed cows produce the healthiest meat and dairy, as do free-range chickens. I avoid meat/dairy from animals treated with growth hormones, antibiotics and other veterinary drugs. Being closely involved with a local farmers market gives me many healthy choices.
People who have inspired me include some of the early vegetarian/natural food advocates of the 70s & 80s, when I first became “aware” about food: Molly Katzen (Moosewood Restaurant), Frances Moore Lappe (Diet for a Healthy Planet), Nikki & David Goldbeck, Alice Waters and Claire Criscuolo who runs a restaurant in New Haven, CT called Claire’s Corner Copia. I ate many delicious vegetarian meals there in high school and college. A more recent inspiration is Chef Jamie Oliver, whose “Food Revolution” is doing much to call attention to the modern diet and how far removed most of us are from “real” food. He is doing some excellent work there!
My go-to guy for health information is Dr. Andrew Weil. He’s an authority on both Western and complementary medicine (which he dubs “integrative medicine”) and a proponent of the “anti-inflammatory” diet. He consults regularly with top medical professionals and health researchers across all fields of specialization. His web site is a rich source of health and nutrition information.
Of course, there are many others. I’m very fortunate to have a lot of professional chefs and talented home cooks who follow my vintage cookbooks fan page, so there are some interesting discussions and relationships that have developed there. I have incredible respect for family farmers, who provide us with so many fresh, healthy foods right in our back yards! I hope you enjoy the page & jump in with your own inspirations and ideas. Thanks for following along 🙂