The Idea Behind Chewgooder

Fodder for a Food Blog
A Suburban Kid gets a Taste for Sustainable California Cuisine

Photo: Natalie Burdick

I was 24 before I had my first real tomato. In fact, I thought I hated tomatoes unless they were in ketchup or spaghetti sauce. I also thought I could identify healthy food from junk food. It turns out I was wrong on both points.

Two years ago I was at a farmers’ market in Santa Monica in July. Piles upon piles of psychedelic-looking tomatoes called “heirloom” were spilling out all over almost every market stall. I had never even heard this word applied to food varieties and, frankly, I was still hazy on the difference between produce from a supermarket and produce from an actual farmer close enough for me to shake hands with.

It would make for an unremarkable Los Angeles food blog if I were to recount to you how tasty those tomatoes were. But what I do want to write about is how I came to discover that everything I grew up thinking about food and its heath implications, both towards my body and the planet, was wrong.

I've reached the vegan end

I grew up like an average American suburban kid. My family lives in Central Florida. We bought produce from the Super-Walmart or the Publix. There was no organic, or local, or Whole Foods. With two parents working more than full time to eventually put twins through college, a complete salad in a bag and a Tombstone pizza wasn’t so bad on a busy night. Not that we (my brother and I) made it any easier. At some point between ages 13 and 15, I declared war on anything fattening, while he decided all he would really like to eat was fattening. My father is partially vegetarian. My mother (God bless her) was basically cooking three meals a night and hoping to please at least one of us. She also forced us all to eat together at least twice a week.

IMG_0175

Now I live in L.A., faced with more fresh, local and healthy food choices than I know what to do with. If you need more proof of the lack of availability of healthy local foods in most suburban areas, perhaps I will have my mom write a guest blog about her epic search for an organic Thanksgiving turkey at the behest of her overzealous daughter.

“Chewgooder” as a title is a play off the word “do-gooder.” Implying that, in the culinary world, as in the rest of life, we strive to make choices that positively affect our bodies, our communities, our economy and our planet. A task worthy of at least one more blog, no?

So pull up a chair, my friends, and be sure to put your napkin in your lap; this may get messy.

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