Hollie Grimaldi Flores: You are what you eat | TheUnion.com

Hollie Grimaldi Flores: You are what you eat

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Columnist

Hollie Grimaldi Flores

My husband and I were discussing where to go for dinner and found ourselves bored with our options. When it comes to having choices, living in a small community is sometimes a detriment.

We usually go out at least once over the course of the weekend, attending a function or taking in a movie, often dining at a local restaurant before the main event. Sometimes dining is the main event. We run through the list of possibilities.

Our conversation often sounds something like this: "Where do you want to go for dinner?"

"How about X?" "I was just there for lunch."

"What about Y?" "I am tired of Y."

"I've heard good things about Z." "I can't have that on my food plan."

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"Have you been to W lately?" "Too pricey!"

"How about S?" "S wasn't that great last time."

"Do you want to give A a try?" "A hasn't opened yet."

"You decide." "I don't care."

"Okay, let's go to X." "But, I was just there!"

Yes, the old standbys are feeling a little tired.

We are happy and excited to see several new eateries getting ready to open. They will be swamped, at least initially, as much of the population who dine out is just as ready as we are to have a new choice.

If the food is good and the service is decent, there is a good chance for success. There is no denying it can't be an easy task.

I was recently reminded I am not paying $18 for lettuce. I am paying for the purchase, preparation, service and experience that comes with the lettuce. Really, the lettuce is merely a prop.

There are many factors in running a successful restaurant for a duration that I have not considered. Cost, waste, a lack of resources (human and otherwise) and of course the balance between serving what your regulars come to expect and offering something new for those who are looking for something a little bit different. It's important to change with the times while keeping the faithful coming back for more.

A fresh take

The latest trend in food service, as I understand it, is farm-to-fork or farm-to-table. The idea is for restaurants to source their menu items with local produce, meat, dairy, etc., whenever possible. This means an ever-changing menu and varying costs.

It should come as no surprise that Nevada County businesses are on board. It also means the reality of having enough local produce available to serve all of the interested eateries is unlikely. Still, many chefs and owners have committed to the idea of using as much locally grown product as possible.

There are organizations formed to educate the community and to support both ends of the spectrum — from local farmer to local restauranteur. And for people like me, who want to try something new, but also want to be relatively certain it will be enjoyable, before investing, events like Bounty of the County are a great way to try the fare of some familiar places as well as some of the newest.

The event highlights the talents of chefs from more than a dozen eateries, with the attendees tasting and then voting for a "best of."

Proceeds benefit a group called Nevada County Grown, and their mission of promoting the local food culture. Their annual event is happening next week. I am looking forward to seeing what they have to offer.

I am also a huge fan of organizations that are working to get fresh food into schools — even working to have gardens on sight so the students can see where their food comes from.

Farmers markets are open from early spring to late fall almost every day of the week. Thankfully, for someone like me who does not garden well, there is a resource for fresh produce. I have friends who sell "just laid" eggs, and markets that can detail the diet and life of the animals butchered for consumption.

A shift in thought

When I was growing up, a shift was taking place in the food industry. We were being swayed with the power of shiny ads and catchy tunes. Forget cooking from scratch! It became about convenience.

Processed foods, frozen dinners, microwaves, five-minute meals, hamburger helper for heavens sake. Suddenly, there was a generation of people who could eat tomatoes and berries any time of the year (instead of the few weeks they were in season), but were also more likely to go a drive-thru for food that was inexpensive and fast.

The tide began to turn back toward "real food" several decades ago, but it has been a slow turning. A lot of big money was and still is being spent to keep us heavily dependent on less than natural food sources.

Fast food chains offer items at a fraction of what it would cost to make them at home. The subsidies see to that. But, we humans are a smart bunch, and it has not taken too long to understand that what we grow ourselves is always going be best for our minds and bodies.

While there are manly advances in technology that have made our lives better, packaged, and processed food is not one of them. If we are what we eat, we need to eat for our health.

The dilemma, for me, is where that will be!

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com.