electronic Gourmet Guide

The Culture of Organic Farming


Alice Waters (pictured) began "Market Cuisine."

If there is one person who can claim responsibility for bringing organic farming back into the spotlight, it would be Alice Waters. Through her small Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse, Ms. Waters started a revolution. She gave birth to "Market Cuisine," insisting on the best, freshest produce from local growers. Over time, she has become a champion of the small farmer and of heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables. What Alice Waters began 26 years ago is changing the course of farming and eating in mainstream America today.

The bastion of organic farming right now is the small farm. Many of today's small farmers are keeping a tradition alive that has been in the family for generations. These farmers feel a connectedness to the land and therefore are using techniques that will allow the land to sustain them for years to come.

One result of the organic farming boom is a rekindled interest in heirloom vegetables. The word heirloom may seem like just another buzzword again, but it actually refers to vegetables and fruits that were grown many years ago. Much of today's produce has been bred for certain characteristic: long shelf life, less bruising during transportation, size etc. Unfortunately, the one factor that has lost in the equation is flavor. Many of the heirloom varieties are simply the original varieties of fruits and vegetables, full of flavor, that were grown years ago. Lemon cucumbers, Italian Bull's Horn peppers, and Limestone lettuce are just examples of heirloom variety vegetables.

Organic Farming

About the Author

Joe LaVilla originally hails from Rochester, in western New York State. Deciding to forgo his love of food, Joe pursued a degree in chemistry from Cornell University. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the Univ. Of Rochester, he gave in to the inevitable and returned to his culinary calling. A graduate with honors of the Culinary Institute of America, Joe has worked in Manhattan, Washington, D.C. And at Spago in Las Vegas before settling in Phoenix, where he is currently working in off-premise catering. His excellent article "The Nuances of Cooking with Wine: Answers to Common Questions" appeared in the November 1997 issue of The electronic Gourmet Guide.

This page originally published as part of the electronic Gourmet Guide between 1994 and 1998.

Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.


This page modified February 2007