Laura Klein is in my kitchen today, talking about the blessings behind food allergies, her sweet tooth, and the environmental concerns on her mind.
Why is living organic important to you?
Organic living is important to me because we are overexposed to too many toxic chemicals on a daily basis that lead to serious health issues. Buying and eating as much organic food as possible keeps me and my family healthy, and it's superdelicious! I also choose healthy, chemical-free skin-care and beauty products and buy safe cleaning products for the home or make them myself (vinegar as a cleaning agent is a staple in my home).
What was your favorite food growing up?
My mother's cooking! My mother introduced me to "gourmet" cooking. She used to throw lavish dinner parties. I would help her prepare, and she would put me on a step stool so I could help her cook, bake--and learn while doing it. We used to watch Julia Child's TV show together. How lucky was I?!
I didn't know that this was a blessing, but my mother has always had many food allergies. She therefore could not eat the processed foods that other families ate (and thus we didn't have constant exposure to food preservatives, additives, flavorings, dyes, etc.). So I grew up on really fresh food, and I am convinced we are much healthier today than most people. While many of my mother's friends today are having real health issues, she stays strong and healthy. Thanks, Mom!
What's your go-to comfort food now?
I love cheese (grilled cheese and mac 'n' cheese are my weaknesses) and ice cream (which is why it is so important to choose organic!). I love making grilled cheese in the winter and having friends over for fondue. In the summer I make fresh chocolate mint ice cream from scratch with fresh chocolate mint from my garden. Here's the recipe for Fresh Organic Chocolate Mint Ice Cream.
What's the one thing in your kitchen you just couldn't live without?
There are so many! I love all of my kitchen tools. But I guess the one thing would be my Shun knives. It is so important to have at least one good knife in the kitchen that will take an edge. I am even known to travel with mine when I go on local vacations!
What magazine, Web site, book, album, or product are you most obsessed with right now?
Coconut ice cream. It is so creamy and delicious that it is hard to believe it is a nondairy product (maybe I can eat more?!). I typically am not a fan of imitation nondairy products. The chocolate brownie is my favorite.
What's the most important news story today that you think we all need to pay more attention to?
There are so many. The health and environmental risks of genetically modified foods, including produce and meats such as fish and cloned animals. These issues appear to be one big scientific experiment, and we are the guinea pigs. The health and environmental risks that these foods and farming methods pose far outweigh the benefits for US citizens, in my opinion.
Every citizen has the right to know exactly where their food comes from. That means where the seed comes from--was it genetically modified? How it was grown--were there toxic chemical pesticides used on the food? And to have access to appropriately labeled meat: Is the salmon I am about to purchase farm-raised and genetically modified? Or was it caught in the wild off the coast of Alaska? And I have every right to know if the meat I am considering buying comes from a cloned animal, and I have the right to know how it was raised and what it was fed. I believe these are basic, fundamental rights that allow us to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.
Where do you get your news?
Online sources. I read so many! Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Good, and more!
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.