Food For Thought

By Tracy Freeman | January 15, 2016
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Photo courtesy of Naomi Chokr

Disney World bills itself as “The happiest place on earth.” A couple of days before Christmas I thought it would be fun to take a family trip to visit Mickey and see the holiday lights. What I didn’t anticipate was that 100,000 other people would have the same idea. Sure, it was beautiful and the kids had a blast but crowded lines, strollermania, and warm temperatures soon had me thinking of all sorts of happier places I might be.

This morning I strolled my local farmers’ market. I watched people walk their dogs. I inhaled the delicious aromas of pizza, popcorn, donuts, and herbs that filled the air. I suddenly realized that, for me, this was the happiest place on earth. Everyone had a smile as they leisurely made their way from booth to booth. The faces behind fragrant, colorful, bountiful displays seemed equally happy. But it was even more than this. It was watching a community come together to support one another—there is a story behind everything we eat.

Another happy day was my trip with the Edible team to ECHO Global Farm located in North Fort Myers. I felt as though I had been transported to another place and time, and to some degree I had. This global farm and research center is helping people grow food around the world and improve the lives of small-scale farmers. Our golf cart excursion began with an educational tour of the fruit tree arboretum, which includes 80 citrus varieties. We continued through rainforest habitats, simulated rural schools, and urban gardens. The duck/tilapia pond features ducks and fish integrated into a sustainable farming system. I learned about worm compost beds and how to make my own briquettes from waste products. I really feel like I have a chance on “Survivor” now.

This issue of Edible Sarasota explores how to think more sustainably with fantastic recipes and tips for making wise choices. The many delicious meals you cook from these recipes will add up to big changes for our farmers, our families, our communities, and our planet. Our cover recipe—created by Recipe Editor Charlotte Abrams—offers a simple, healthy alternative to salad. We introduce you to the Mason jar salad with endless combinations. Eating healthy has never been so easy and you will be the cool kid at the lunch table.

With this new year, I encourage you to be part of our food community. It’s a pretty happy place.

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