“When we loose a flavour, a fragrance, we loose a recipe”
Most of us understand the importance of seasonality, freshness, colours and flavour in our cooking. As we become more educated about the food we eat we also see words like fresh, local, organic and artisan appearing everywhere on restaurant menus and food packaging. Although those words have never been more in fashion than they are right now, it’s often too easy to get lost in all the marketing jargon and slogans that we begin to forget what those wonderful words really mean. That is until you meet someone like Laura Buades.
Laura is incredibly passionate about the food we eat, where it comes from and how it is grown. She has been at the forefront of the slow food movement in Spain over the last few years and recently started her own company called loveat-beyond organics to promote the use of locally produced, seasonal, biodynamic foods. She believes in a reconnection with the lost rhythms of nature, the traditions of the past and getting back to actually working the land. Laura has simple farm to table mentality and believes that processed fast food is not only changing the physical landscape through intensive farming, but it is also eroding a way of life that revolved around producing and eating great food in a relaxed, sociable way. As we walked around her beautiful organic garden in Mallorca, she explained how many rare plant varieties of indigenous fruits and vegetables are under threat from standardisation and commercialisation just in the Balearic Islands alone. “It is overwhelmingly important that we don’t lose our forgotten foods. Some of these varieties go back hundreds, or even thousands, of years and are part of our culinary, scientific, genetic and popular cultural heritage, they also ensure our genetic diversity is not lost. Lets eat them, not lose them!”.
As Laura hands me the most amazing sun-drenched peach I’ve ever eaten straight from one of her trees, she tells me that, “At the end of the day we are what we eat, and the land for future generations will be what we make of it. Together with like-minded farmers, our aim is to raise awareness and protect local, lost varieties, so that they may be rediscovered and returned to the market in the future”.
After spending a little time with Laura I’m reminded that our fast, modern lifestyles and intensive production methods are the main reasons that we are losing so many of our traditional foods. With their demise we also lose centuries of expert knowledge and cultural traditions. We lose choice, flavour and the varied landscapes associated with traditional farming. The simple truth is it is often easier to find food from half way across the world than food produced on our doorstep. It’s time to re-build the lost link between our food, the land, and the people who produce it.
* The Slow Food movement was founded by Carlo Petrini and opposes the standardisation of taste, defends the need for consumer information and protects the cultural identities tied to food and gastronomic traditions.