Yesterday I, along with a handful of other local bloggers, had the wonderful opportunity to lunch with Gary Hirshberg the CE-Yo of Stonyfield Farm. During the lunch, which was held in Cambridge at EVOO, Gary discussed the importance of organics and why they are so important in our lives and for the well-being of the planet.
Entering EVOO was like a breath of fresh air…
To get started, we went around the room for a quick round of introductions then Gary got right into his talk. It was extremely interesting to hear his story about starting Stonyfield, which was founded 27 years ago. He grew up outside of Manchester, New Hampshire where his family had their milk, butter, and cheese delivered each day. In his stories you can hear his delicious passion for good and real food.
I’m big into the facts and Gary dished them like it was his job. Well, I guess it is his job. Some interesting things he pointed out:
• 41% of Americans will develop some sort of cancer. (a percentage that is way too high)
• 1 in 3 children after 2000 will develop type II diabetes.
• Organics make up 3.7% of the US food supply.
• Cows on non-organic/conventional farms have an average lifespan of 4-6 years. Cows on organic farms have an average lifespan of 12-20 years (!!!)
• Eating organics is a win for all. Farmers are supported, animals are treated fairly and have longer lives, and we have more nutritious foods in our system.
• Gary also did a really great job of acknowledging the fact that organics typically are more expensive than non-organics and he understands that organic and non-organics are on two completely different playing fields. Hopefully with time and more education things will level out. The biggest message he left us with was by even purchasing one organic product during your weekly trips to the grocery store know that you’re changing the world and making a change to better yourself and your health.
As Gary spoke we hungry bloggers started to eat while still taking notes and photographs. Multitasking at it’s best
All of the food prepared at EVOO is “eclectic New American cuisine” and uses as many homegrown ingredients as possible so the decision to pair Stonyfield with EVOO was perfection.
We started with some bread (which I devoured, hence the lack of a photo) and a nice dish of oil… how tasty does this look?
I chose a salad that contained Asparagus, Peas, Fiddleheads, Radish and Arugula with Great Hill Blue Cheese, Herbed Yogurt Dressing and Course Crumb Crunch. I felt like I was eating out of a garden… everything was so fresh, crunchy, and clean-tasting.
My main course was the Seared Misty Knoll Farm’s Chicken Breast with Red Fire Farm’s Spring Dug Parsnip Manicotti, Shaved Fennel, Orange Segments, Arugula, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Garlicky Chicken Jus. I could have eaten this all day long and was tempted to lick my plate but I’m a lady
Since Sues was traveling I invited my friend Tarryn to come along. I’ve known Tarryn for a few years now and I know that she secretly wants to be a farmer so I figured she’d love to hear Gary speak and share in the experience with me! For her main course she ordered the Seared Atlantic Golden Tilefish Fillet with Organic Potatoes, Fiddlehead Ferns, Wild Ramps, Cilantro, Curried Potato Broth and Minted Carrot Salad.
And then, the gates of Heaven opened when this darling plate was put in front of me. Stonyfield Organic Yogurt Tart with Balsamic Basil Glazed Strawberries. Balsamic, Basil, Strawberries… my little heart can’t take it. The only way to appropriately describe this is to say it tasted beautifully.
We were also given a container of Stonyfield’s Oikos Caramel Greek yogurt. HOLY DESSERT. This was the perfect amount of sweet and smooth… and I’m buying them out of stock the next visit I make to the grocery store.
Once we were all finished eating and ooo-ing and ahhh-ing over the wonderful meal, the Chef of EVOO, Peter McCarthy came out to talk to us a bit about local ingredients and the reasoning behind using organics at the restaurant. It’s always nice to see the face behind the food!
Along with a slew of coupons for Stonyfield products, we were also given autographed copies of Gary Hirshberg’s book Stirring it up: How to Make Money and Save the World. I’m really excited to start reading it just based on the quote from Robert Redford on the cover:
“Gary Hirshberg dared to dream new ways of doing business based on respect for customers, employees, and the earth. And, it worked. If you buy or sell anything, or simply want to feel hopeful about the future, this lively and legitimately optimistic book is worth every minute.”
Gary was so down to earth it was unbelievable. When I got home and told my roommate I had lunch with the CE-Yo of Stonyfield she asked if I was nervous. The funny thing was, I wasn’t at all. I don’t think any of us bloggers were! Gary just seemed like such a normal guy who was sharing his absolute biggest passion in life. It was really neat to be able to dine with such a powerful and brilliant person.
You can learn more on the Importance of Organic Farming on Stonyfield’s website.
Also, be sure to visit The Organic Center which is peer-reviewed scientific studies on the benefits of organic farming.