Christopher Ranch’s California Garlic Blog

It’s no mystery that fresh garlic is one of the most popular, versatile ingredients ever. What remains relatively unknown, however, are the distinct flavor, quality and health differences associated with varying garlic varieties. Christopher Ranch, a family farm in Gilroy, Calif., grows a California heirloom garlic that is a leader in each category. All Garlic Is Not Created Equal. We’ll show you why.

Ingredients Matter

It’s somewhat ironic how quickly the Slow Food concept – and everything it embodies – is gaining momentum.

The Slow Food movement has caught peoples’ attention worldwide, by upholding the appreciation and awareness of quality, clean, ethical food and its origins; using fresh, sustainable, seasonal ingredients; and cooking in a manner that emphasizes flavor, health, patience and enjoyment. In other words, it is the antithesis to fast-food eating.

There are long-time pioneers who have been leading this crusade, such as Michael Pollan, author of “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” – a book questioning the sustainability, flavor, nutrition and structure of the current food system and praising the good old days, when people cooked from scratch and only had access to items in season, like apples in the fall, oranges in the winter, asparagus in the spring and tomatoes in the summer.

There’s also Alice Waters (chef, author and owner of Chez Panisse), who has revolutionized the food world in her mission to educate about the environmental, societal and health benefits in sourcing and eating good, clean, fair food that is grown sustainably and seasonally at local farms.

Most widespread, perhaps, is the Slow Food organization, which has chapters in more than 30 countries and represents 100,000 members – all of whom are united by their desire to practice, restore and promote the Slow Food concept through relationships, education and events, including farm tours, dining at sustainable restaurants, movie screenings and more.

One such screening, as offered by my local Slow Food Los Angeles Chapter, is the showing of Ingredients – the latest documentary highlighting the health, economic and environmental importance of growing and consuming local food, establishing relationships among local farmers, chefs and consumers and the dangers of continuing down an export-oriented, processed, genetically modified, mass-produced, tasteless food path.

Ingredients features input from all facets of Oregon’s supply chain, including several farms, such as 47th Avenue Farm and Ayers Creek Farm, chefs, like Alice Waters and Greg Higgins, agricultural organizations, such as Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust, grass-roots movements, like Slow Food Portland, and community representatives, such as Lake Oswego mayor, Judie Hammerstad.

One of the major concerns in the documentary is that because food is “shipped from ever-greater distances, we have literally lost sight of where our food comes from and in the process we’ve lost a vital connection to our local community and to our health.”

The domestic garlic industry understands this, as the majority of fresh garlic in the U.S. is shipped from China, which can take between 30 and 60 days to reach U.S. markets, traveling 7,300 miles to get to California. There is little to no sight of where the garlic originates, there is a huge disconnection to the local community and farmer, and the garlic’s time travel eradicates health, flavor, safety and the environment.

As a family run farm that puts the land first in operations, grows our garlic as sustainably as possible and selected our heirloom seed (which originated in Italy) for its flavor – as opposed to volume capabilities – we support the Slow Food movement.

Unfortunately, I can’t claim that I’ve seen this film, but I’ve heard and read enough about it to know that I fully agree with its premise and am waiting in eager anticipation to see it. However, it’s only shown in select locations, or you can purchase the DVD on the Web site. (For local listings, click here.)

So, in this case, do as I say, not as I do. I encourage everyone to check out Ingredients – it might transform the way you look at your food, for the better.


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