Monday, September 12, 2011

Lettuce Entertain You and Get to Know a Farmer

This quick and dirty video recipe for grilled romaine hearts was shot on location at Tanimura & Antle, a family-owned lettuce farm we toured as part of the Get to Know a California Farmer field trip Michele and I just returned from in Carmel, CA.

The event was to introduce their website and, as the name implies, help us get to know a farmer, and that's what we did. We got a fascinating look into how lettuce gets from their farm to your table. Brian Antle, the farm’s Harvest Manager, ran the tour, and it was a joy to hear him talk with such pride about what his and the Tanimura family had created from this land. 


After the tour we were treated to a wonderful lunch showing off some of the farm’s famous foliage. The grilled romaine salad you’ll see in the video was a big hit, but we also had some beautiful pizzas, as you can see below. It always feels special to eat produce that was just picked hours before.


You’ll also see a short video I did showing how the lettuce goes from dirt to final packaging on this slow-rolling mobile processing plant. You’ll have to pardon the dirty lens, as I hadn’t planned on filming in the field, and never checked it. I believe the smudge is gumbo, but there’s really no way to tell for sure. Don't let that deter you, or you'll miss a cameo by social media guru, Jay Baer, on a bed of lettuce.


After lunch we got to tour Naturipe Farms, one of the largest berry producers in the state. Our guide, Tom, did a great job of explaining all the challenges that go into growing berries, especially strawberries. I learned that organic doesn't mean that no pesticides are used. They just need to be certified pesticides, and are often the same ones used in conventional farming. The highlight for me was his explaining how fish meal is regularly used to fertilize organic strawberries, unbeknownst to most vegans we assumed.


Anyway, it was a really fun trip, and I want to thank Adfarm and Get to Know a California Farmer for inviting us. Also, huge thanks to the farmers who shared their stories and delicious products with us. For more information on Get to Know a California Farmer, please check out their website! It's a fantastic way to connect directly with the people growing the food you put on your tables every day.

They’re also running a sweepstakes on the Facebook page where you could win $10,000 worth of groceries. It’s only open to California residents, and ends soon, so get over there and check it out. Enjoy!

Grilled Romaine Salad

How Lettuce is Harvested

14 comments:

Jeff said...

Hello chef John, would you please make some Japanese style Cheesecake for us? I remember having it as a child back in the ol' country and it still occasionally brings up fond gastronomic memories. I can't find a restaurant that serves it here in the states.

Darren said...

Can't respect your food if you don't know where it comes from! Thanks for the video Chef!

Anonymous said...

Your blog is, as usual, very interesting.
Why are the workers washing the lettuce wearing a cover on their faces ? Is it because they use some harming chemicals ?

Z. Green said...

Hi Anonymous - actually the workers cover their faces as part of a tradition passed down from other generations - they do this to keep the dust and sun off their faces, not because they're using chemicals.

Monica said...

I have often wondered about organic especially after the European fiasco when it turned out human excrement was the fertilizer!
how lucky you are to live in CA where everything can grow. The central valley farms always impress me as well as the farmer's market.

He Took MY Last Name said...

Hahah that's pretty funny about the fish meal, I never knew that. Interesting.

Chris K. said...

Anybody who thinks harvesting vegetables is "unskilled labor" ought to try keeping up with these men and women.

There's always lots of talk about respecting where your food comes from, but not much about respecting the people who actually do the work.

Chef John said...

Amen!

Angie said...

Thanks for this subject, Chef. I say Amen too!

But I couldn't help but notice two things - Those are some healthy looking pizza (haven't seen broccoli or carrot on a pizza before)! And that is such a strange tradition about women farm workers to be so covered even when they're working under the shade!

Chef John said...

Actually those weren't carrots, they were gold tomatoes for a blt pizza! :-)

The Wife of a Dairyman said...

I got to see you in action on the Farm Fresh Tour and just love the videos you captured. Great meeting both you and your lovely wife, Michele:)

Chef John said...

Thanks! It was great meeting you too!! We'd love to come up and see your farm someday. Would love to turn some of that raw milk into fromage blanc. :-)

Anonymous said...

The guy in the brown vest sure is flexible ;)

blogagog said...

Who do women traditionally put masks on their faces while working? It's kind of creepy.