Tuesday, March 20, 2012

“If you’re not tasting the food!”

“If you’re not tasting the food, what are the customer experiencing!!” My wife and I recently have been watching Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares reruns on Hulu. While the language is sometimes off the charts, what Ramsey does with kitchens, cooks and foods is incredible. (We especially love his Christmas special where with his kids, they raise heritage turkeys in their backyard and then butcher them for Thanksgiving. Talk about food grown where you live, and also talk about quite the education for children!)

This particular episode dealt with a chef, who by his own admission was arrogant. He absolutely refused to taste his own food prior to sending it to the “pass,” and eventually the customer. And the food was routinely sent back. Undercooked, over seasoned, and trying to be to creative with the dish resulted in numerous foods coming back and being tossed.

“If you’re not tasting the food, what are the customers experiencing!!” When I first heard that quote I was taken aback. It was so simple, but yet quite intriguing. On our own farm, Darby Springs Farm, we grow our own beef, chicken, eggs, fruits and veggies. We utilize sustainable and organic farming principles and incorporate holistic management into the farm plan. Our farm is located in the saline wetland of the Tall-grass prairie. In order to properly steward this unique ecosystem we must utilize these principles and management techniques, not only to maintain this environment, but to improve it.

Likewise to nourish our bodies and our minds, a majority of the foods we eat come from our farm. And what foods we cannot or do not grow we purchase from neighbors also utilizing similar principles. This is important to note, as we direct market many of our products or sell via local outlets such as farmers markets and area grocery stores. If we were not tasting, experiencing, embracing the foods that nourish and replenish the mind and body, how do we know the customer would be as well. How do we ensure the safety of the food and the customer if we ourselves do not taste the food we grow?

I believe you can go to one of the over 90 farmers markets in Nebraska, talk with one of the farmers there and ask them what they do with the food they are selling to you. One of my favorite farmers recently relayed what he did with butter he made from his farm. “Will, I simply cut up a lot of our veggies. Maybe 5 to 6 different types and probably about 10 pounds worth. I melt some of this butter here in a frying pan. I put the veggies in the pan and sauté them, and add a little salt and pepper. Add some of these potatoes, and I have a meal. Works great for the kids (10+ of ‘em’!)”

“If you’re not tasting the food, what are the customers experiencing!!”

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