Ranch & Coast Magazine

January 2023

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Page 38 of 99

e foods that pass through the fewest hands are often the healthiest and the most sustainable, hence the oft-repeated mantra, "Buy local." Seasonal fruits and vegetables harvested locally by small producers can be picked at the peak of freshness rather than mass-produced foods genetically modified to withstand long distance travel and demand off-season. Local fishermen have more invested in ensuring the health of the local waters that are their livelihood. As Gomes quips, "e bottom line, and I say this all the time, is that if your seafood has more frequent flier miles on it than your American Airlines credit card, you're definitely not buying the right seafood." If you're still not sure what qualifies as "sustainable" seafood, Casten recommends visiting Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch website (seafoodwatch.org) to search for the best choices versus what to avoid. Similarly, know where your butcher is sourcing their meats, and seek those who support local farmers and ranchers (Ranch 45, for instance, partners with Southern California-based Brandt Beef ). Of course, one way to be truly in control of at least some of your food from beginning to end is to grow it yourself. At-home gardens, raised planter beds, chicken coops, and community gardens have steadily grown in popularity in recent years. Even in small spaces, it's still possible to grow healthy food, just as Raffi Meyer, owner of Meyer Micros, does. e Carlsbad-based grower of microgreens — literally the same herbs and vegetables that we eat in more mature forms (think: broccoli, kale, arugula), only grown densely and harvested in the seedling stage — says that microgreens can easily grow indoors on your kitchen counter in containers as small as four-inch pots. Meyer himself grows his greens indoors rather than outside, which enables a more controlled growing environment. Meyer Micros is set to debut in area farmers markets this month, with locations to be announced on Instagram and at meyermicros.com, featuring his organically grown microgreens and grow cups. e more we learn about the importance of making choices that benefit health and planet, the clearer it is that the two are equal. "I think at the end of the day, if we're all doing what we can do within our means to be good to the environment, be good to ourselves, that's what makes things sustainable," says Schwartz. "Sustainability means, to me, not only taking care of the past, but making sure that we're setting ourselves up for the future." pre-K to seniors emphasize the value of locally grown foods and the impact of responsible farming, and a pay-what-you-can farm stand ensures produce from the farm is accessible to all. "We're really connecting the dots between the health of the soil and the quality of the food and what's being grown, and how it's grown and how important that is, and how the nutrient density is really important for one's health and wellbeing, and again that comes from good soil," says Javier Guerrero, Coastal Roots' president and CEO. "And when I say 'good soil,' it also means how we care for the environment. Our topsoil is being depleted at a tremendous rate, which is not sustainable, so when we're talking about eating healthy, organic, regenerative food, we're also talking about caring for the environment. We're able to connect those two things in our programming." Of equal importance for Guerrero and Coastal Roots is ensuring people know that "eating healthy is not a privilege, but it's a right," and teaching and enabling people throughout the county to grow their own healthy foods in a sustainable way. "A lot of produce travels between 1,500 to 2,500 miles before it arrives on your plate or comes to your store, so what does that mean? It means it was not allowed to properly ripen, which means it does not have all the nutrients that one would suppose it would have. A lot of these become the lessons learned, and passing it on, that can have a huge impact to make healthy choices. It connects back to the way we grow food is also a way that cares for the environment," he says. e most repeated recommendation to inform our choices as consumers when it comes to what we're eating is, quite simply, to ask more questions — from our markets, our farmers, our suppliers, our butchers, our fishmongers. Everyone, even behind the counter at your local supermarket, should be able to tell you where your food came from. From there, you can do further research to ensure those suppliers' methods and practices align with your health, environmental, ethical, religious, or other goals. (It might sound far-fetched, but consider the pescatarian who only later learns that the hatchery where their fish is sourced feeds its stock pellets composed of beef by-product!) PHOTO BY LISA GOLDMAN Raffi Meyer, owner of Meyer Micros @ranchandcoast RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE JANUARY 2023 39

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