Myra Goodman planted her first organic garden in Carmel Valley, California. In just a short amount of time, she and her husband were bagging greens to sell local restaurants and grocery stores. Not so notable, until she mentions that this was in 1986. The Goodman’s Earthbound Farm was the first company to ever successfully package pre-washed organic salads for retail sale, long before the practice became trendy or commonplace.
Fast forward twenty eight years, and Myra is now a pioneer and bright shining advocate for organic farmers and their food. Earthbound Farm now works with over 200 organic farms to provide consumers with easy access to fresh produce across the country. Where would any of us be without those giant pillowy bags of pre-washed greens that have turned the process of salad-making into a toddler-sized task? We’re pretty sure these easy-to-use greens are largely responsible for the explosion of culinary creativity in the salad arena since the late 80’s. Would hazelnut, grapefruit and fennel-dusted salads still be a feasible dinner option if it meant washing giant piles of sandy spinach first? Long gone are the days of dull salads doused with Ranch dressing, and Myra might just be the one to thank.
This weekend, Myra is one of many notable food leaders speaking at TEDxManhattan, “Changing The Way We Eat.” Tune in to the live webcast this Saturday, March 1 beginning at 7:30 a.m. PST to hear Myra talk about our changing food culture along with Chef Tom Colicchio, Peggy Neu of the Meatless Monday phenomenon and others. Until then, enjoy Myra’s thoughts below on trends in food culture, gardening tips and vegan brownies.
trend you love seeing:
People eating so much kale – in salads, juices, smoothies, snacks (kale chips), as a side veggie, and featured in entrees.
proudest moment of your career:
Creating a beautiful vegan cookbook with my daughter, Marea: Straight from the Earth: Irresistible Vegan Recipes for Everyone.
your health heroes:
All organic farmers, and all chefs who use organic ingredients.
what you wish people knew....
I wish more people realized that organic food is regulated by the U.S.D.A. and has strict and enforced standards. When you choose organic food, you know that your food was grown without any toxic and persistent chemicals or GMOs, and produced without artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives; without hydrogenated oils or GMO ingredients. When you choose something labeled as “natural,” “sustainable,” or “local,” the definition is unregulated, and could mean anything – and sadly, often means nothing.
fave california farms:
Earthbound Farm (of course); Frog Hollow and Masumoto Family Farm for the best stone fruit I’ve ever tasted.
3 other healthful brands you love:
Right now I’m eating lots of delicious Driscoll organic blueberries, Silk soy and almond milk, and Doctor Kracker Seeded Spelt crackers.
organic myth to debunk:
Our apples are gorgeous, not pock-marked!
fave way to eat your greens:
Salads, salads, salads.
fave seasonal march produce:
best tip for home food gardens:
Plant crops you can put away for winter. Our freezer is full of frozen heirloom tomato sauce that makes us so happy now when vine-ripened tomatoes are still months away. Same with our raspberry jam.
fave farm to table restaurant:
Candle 79 in NYC.
produce cleaning tip:
Save the water in which you rinse your produce for your garden instead of letting it go down the drain, especially in states like California that are in the midst of a severe drought.
Chocolate lover alert! These brownies are sensational: very chocolaty, moist, and delectable. It’s not only their taste that is rich: they’re also plentiful in healthy ingredients like whole-grain flour, chia seeds, walnuts, and coconut oil. I’ll even include antioxidant-packed chocolate on this list! Once baked, let the brownies cool at least 30 minutes before cutting into them. At this stage, they will be warm and gooey…which is my personal favorite way to enjoy them! These brownies taste even better the second day, so they are a great make-ahead dessert as well. Another tip? If you plan on serving them to a crowd on the day they’re baked, refrigerate them for an hour or two before serving.
Very Chocolatey Chocolate Brownies
8 oz high-quality semisweet chocolate
½ cup melted coconut oil
3 Tbsp ground chia seeds
¾ cup espresso or strong black coffee (regular or decaffeinated), room temperature
1 ¼ cups packed light-brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¾ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
⅔ cup chopped walnuts
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 350°F. Grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with coconut oil. Cover the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper, and then grease the top of the parchment paper.
Chop 3 ounces of the chocolate into pieces no larger than chocolate chips. Set them aside. Break the remaining 5 ounces of the chocolate into pieces about ½-inch wide and put them in the top of a double boiler or in a bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir frequently until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove it from the heat and transfer the chocolate to a large mixing bowl. Stir in the coconut oil, and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
Put the chia seeds in a small mixing bowl and whisk in the coffee. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes until it thickens (this is our egg substitute). Whisk again to make sure there are no lumps.
Whisk the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Add the vanilla and the chia mixture and whisk vigorously until blended.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the reserved chopped chocolate and walnuts. Do not overmix. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the top feels dry and the brownies feel firm when a toothpick is inserted in the center. Watch them closely during the final minutes of baking to make sure the edges don’t burn.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool. These brownies are best when they cool overnight or are refrigerated for 2 hours after they come to room temperature. When they are ready to serve, cut into 16 squares. The brownies will stay fresh at room temperature for about 5 days in an airtight container and they also freeze well.