There has been more talk about heirloom fruits & vegetables in the news lately, and it is going beyond heirloom tomatoes. Heirloom apples are mentioned in reports about the cider revival. Heirloom grains get a side note in features on the rediscovery of bread. Heritage turkeys find their way into a Thanksgiving recipe collections. While I am excited to see heirlooms gain more prominence in the public awareness, I feel that we’re not painting the big picture with the current media coverage. Those mentions make the heirloom movement appear random and disconnected. In reality, there is a tightly knit group of dedicated seed savers, farmers, chefs, brewers, distillers and food producers out there, who enthusiastically embrace and promote heirloom varieties and their flavorful, often quirky characteristics within their daily work. We are a movement, and it has many faces.
It is a movement that deserves to be the cover story, not the side note. Which is why we are starting a new series on our blog, a series of conversations each between myself and another Warrior of Flavors. Check back for weekly updates!
Sara Gasbarra (pictured on the right), founder of Verdura. Her Chicago-based company works with restaurants and hotels, such as Palmer House Hilton, Floriole and Farmhouse, to design, install and tend onsite culinary gardens. Join our conversation about heirloom varieties and the role of chefs in promoting forgotten flavors here.
Rob Levitt, co-owner of Butcher & Larder and Local Foods. After working in kitchens in NY and Chicago and running his restaurant Mado based on the concepts of “Midwestern ingredients with a mediterranean influence”, this CIA trained chef turned to whole animal butchery. He opened Butcher & Larder with his wife in 2011, focusing on locally raised sustainable meats. Read his thoughts about sustainable meat and heritage breeds here.
Josiah Lockhart is a second generation farmer, who focused Lockhart Family Farm in Woodford, Virgina, on rare breeds, most with close historic ties to Appalachia. A central figure in Slow Food’s “Slow Meat” campaign, he has recently moved to Scotland. There, he leads the newly founded Slow Food Scotland as Development Manager. Read why he thinks that the term “heritage breeds” is meaningless, his thoughts on bioregional farming and the importance of genetic diversity in livestock operations here.
Steve Sando, founder and owner of Rancho Gordo, a Napa based heirloom bean company. With a deep love for theMexican culture and their foodways, Steve, who has authored three books on growing and cooking with beans, has been building Rancho Gordo into the leading source for heirloom beans. He shares his experience on how to get consumers’ interested in heirloom foods here.