Energy Diet

It’s All About Food!

This is one of my favorite subjects, because food brings all of my interests together, from growing organic fruit and vegetables at home, to shopping for it, to cooking and getting together with friends and family and sharing it over a nice bottle of wine or maybe some mezcal.

Where to begin? Well first of all, I’ll share with you our efforts in producing our own food. We just started doing it two years ago when we moved to our house with a garden. Before that, we lived in a tiny apartment in Mexico City, where we gave hydroponics a try in our kitchen window. It was all my husband Matthew’s project, and even though he had a decent amount of beautiful tomatoes growing, the taste wasn’t all there, and real soil makes a huge difference.

Nowadays, we plant many things on raised beds. They were built out of the recycled wood planks used in the construction of the house, and they have an automatic drip irrigation system which makes it very easy to grow almost anything. Of course, the gorgeous Queretaro weather helps plenty!

Serrano, poblano and jalapeño chiles from the garden.

This is Lucía and our last fall harvest. We have some young fruit trees that already started bearing wonderful avocados, grapefruits, cranapples, figs, and limes.

Natalia and the magic sunflower from the garden (she planted them herself!)

Outside the kitchen we grow fresh herbs for cooking and making fresh salsa.

This past Sunday was sowing day, and everyone at home got involved. The girls chose and planted what they wanted to eat, with the help of Ivan (our knowledgeable gardener). We mixed the soil with our homemade compost and started this season’s harvest.

Matthew and the girls

We collect seeds on our trips

Ivan, tells us which are best bets for full sun growing

In the Market

We are blessed living in Mexico. Everywhere you go you can find a huge array of fresh ingredients year-round, and at very low price compared to other countries.

I do my shopping once a week at the main market, “Mercado de la Cruz,” where one can find great things from local producers like butter avocados, fresh pomegranate, zucchini blossoms, beets, miltomates (the smallest of the green tomatoes great for green salsa), and many different kinds of chiles.


But, I have to admit that making the right choices isn’t always easy. At this point I sort of know right from wrong when choosing food, and even though most of the ingredients we get are local, the trip to the store isn’t always “smart”.

There are raspberries to be eaten as well as yummy ice cream, same goes for those wonderful California nectarines, Italian prosciutto and that smoked Norwegian salmon…. You get the picture, we cannot get everything we like locally.

Here are some of our guilty pleasures:

As for our efforts in diminishing our meat intake, well, I don’t think we will be turning vegan any time soon. But what we do practice are the famous “Meatless Mondays”. At first it started off just as a detox thing, for the overindulgent weekends, but now as I hear more and more things about the benefits of turning to greens more often than to meat, the idea is getting a little more attractive.

Slow Food

As long as we are talking about food, and our awareness of its source, a huge part of it has been because of SlowFood http://www.slowfood.org/ .

We joined a couple of years ago and it’s been one of our best experiences. This is a description that I borrowed from their web site that explains it better than I can:
“Slow Food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.”

We belong to the local chapter in this part of the Country (El Bajío) and because of this, we have been able to meet excellent producers of cheese, honey, amaranth, delicious fruit, local bread bakers and many other top quality ingredients and food.

Our friend and coordinator for this area, Ada Solana, organizes field trips where families and producers spend the day together, and our children get to know real people behind real food. For example, they now know that the milk, cheese and butter we eat come from a ranch and live animals, and not the local supermarket!

These are some pictures of one of the outings. On this occasion we went to Dr. Peraza’s cheese farm in Queretaro — I swear it’s one of the best goat milk cheese I’ve ever tasted.

Dr. Peraza explaining the process of making his cheese

The cellar where the cheese gets aged

The cheese tasting table

The goats and Natalia

Comments

  1. Rob Covey
    February 21, 2011, 1:17 pm

    Michele you are such an inspiration to us all! I want to build raised planter beds now! What a great set of photos once again!
    Can’t thank you enough for sharing all these tips including the slow food movement link.

  2. armonia rodriguez
    Mexico
    February 22, 2011, 11:24 am

    Wonderful post! What a great garden! what a good experience for your children to experience and grow your own food. I hope I can do a raised bed for herbs at least!

  3. […] a good way of reinforcing your commitment to protecting the planet. For Michele, that means joining Slow Food and learning more about local food producers; for Lindsay, it’s about the ocean conservation […]

  4. ramya
    india
    February 23, 2011, 4:11 am

    what an wonderful work!! it is simple but it is very rich… good lesson for the rest of the people who finds pleasure in fast foods where there is no connection with what they are eating and where and how they are coming from.. i whole heartedly appreciate it!!

  5. yolanda
    February 23, 2011, 10:09 am

    Beautiful pictures…….. love your work…… teach me master!!!!!

  6. evelyn
    mexico city
    February 25, 2011, 11:23 pm

    it’s really great what you’re doing, and you have a lovely home and a great garden, my friends in other countries allways tell me about how great it is to live in mexico and have all those options in markets (fruits and vegetables), and you’re right it is cheaper than other countries, even cities in mexico, but it is also a reality that many times eating healthy is more expensive than eating junk food or “garnachas”, and not everybody has the time or the space to have a little orchard. many people wish to do it, non all of us can!

  7. Brenda Garcia
    Mexico
    February 27, 2011, 3:21 pm

    Love it! love your raised beds! we do container veggie/herb gardening we started about 2 years ago also; but now we are looking into raised beds.
    Nice work! your home looks like a very happy place!

  8. Cynthia Koszeghy-Bravo
    Budapest, Hungary
    March 1, 2011, 4:50 am

    I grew in Guadalajara, Mexico in a house with a beautiful garden sourrounded by orange, mandarin, apple, lemon & lime (the sweet type) trees, my mom also had an area to grow cooking herbs & even an aloe vera plant which was very useful for our tummy, wounds & even my teenager acne!!! I believe what you are doing is giving to your family the best of you through our mother Earth!!!
    Thank you for bringing me back to that time & though now I live in a small flat with no garden we are trying to find the way to be closer to the nature.

  9. Michele del Rio
    Mexico
    March 1, 2011, 11:14 am

    Thanks so much for the wonderful comments. I must say that I’m totally aware of our luck to have a garden where we can grow our stuff, but it also like to share that it is possible to grow things in a flat or apartment, maybe the kitchen sill or a part of the house that gets the most sunlight. And it doesn’t have to be a big production, just a couple of pots, a little good quality soil, seeds and water and you’re set!
    Why not begin with some cooking herbs or tomatoes? They are a good options to start off with and great a chance to reconnect with nature and food.

  10. Federico Hernandez-Ruiz
    Jurica, Queretaro. Mexico
    March 1, 2011, 11:54 pm

    For some time I have been surprised by some of our neighbors at rural Mexico.

    During December holidays I made a visit to my friends and arranged a small talk with a casual photo session. Here is a small sample of their life’s.

    http://issuu.com/federicohernandez/docs/visitandoalosvecinos_srgb?mode=a_p

    They grow their food, they feed their animals, they do not use electric energy, either have sewage.

    Even they have by a side rain/agricultural water pond, they do not use that water. In their own word, that water is no good, not even for laundry.

    Water is provided by the next door Ranch. They use gas and some wood for cooking.

    It´s amazing how much they know about their surroundings, how they read the weather just by looking at the sky, and how they use herbs that are free growing and some specially cultivated as medicine. Mexico has so much culture in every corner, in every place that really can amaze everyone, over and over again.

    This family has so much to teach us, they are so Rich in so many ways.

    Answers sometime are so close to us that it only takes some will to realize how to make make a huge change.

    Congratulations to all, and specially to Michele and her family for sharing this fantastic journey on behalf of Mexico. It really makes a difference.

  11. Chitsumi .
    Querétaro, Querétaro
    March 22, 2011, 1:03 am

    Gracias Federico por compartir tus fotos. ¡Bellas que son! Gracias Michele por compartir ¡las tuyas también! Dos mundos en el mismo espacio. Tanto por aprender de los que ya saben. ¡Tanto por compartir! Ü. Thank you Federico for sharing your photos. Such beauty! Thank you Michele for also sharing yours! So much to learn from those who already know. So much to share! Ü