Episode 50 Transcription
[00:00:00] Welcome to The Be About Being Better podcast, where we help people make evidence based sustainable. Small changes for their health that compounded the huge shifts towards a better, more vibrant life. I'm your host Abbie Stasior, a health and life coach, future registered dietician, a master's graduate from Columbia University, and a certified intuitive eating counselor.
And I believe that we can't make lasting or meaningful change single handedly. So I'm so happy that you're here so that together you can see that a diet free, sustainable lifestyle is possible, and you can leverage that to live a better life. And remember my disclaimer, This podcast is meant to give you general information.
And it's not meant to substitute or replace medical advice, a diagnosis or serve as treatment.
abbie: Hello. Hello, y'all. I am so excited for today's episode. I have a guest coming on.
The C F O of Green Door Gourmet, which is an organic farm in Nashville. And I met her during one of our field trips in my dietetic internship. We got to go to her farm. We did a whole cooking class with her. We literally picked produce from the ground and brought it back to the kitchen, cooked with it and you know, had lunch.
And then in the afternoon we did some food writing and we wrote poetry and we wrote. I dunno. Just about our experience and the environment and good food. And it was just such an amazing cathartic day. And then we ended with shopping in, um, her local market that she has there. So the farm, and she'll explain in the podcast episode about, you know, What, what, what she does on the farm.
But they do have a lot of grounds where they grow all of their crops organically, but then they have a little market that is a co-op. So it's cooperatively sourced products from all over Nashville. Uh, different local producers and they have grass fed meats there. Honey, I love their honey. It's like the only thing that.
Has helped my allergies in Nashville because my allergies have been literally terrible. So their honey's amazing. They have eggs, different jams, dairy baked goods. Their bread is phenomenal, like best sourdough I've had in my entire life. So many other baked goods. Um, and then all produce. I get my kale there.
Now I get my carrots, I get my cabbage. It's so good, and a lot of people think that getting healthier food is so much more expensive, but I found their prices to be very reasonable and I feel like I'm, I'm saving money, plus I'm not putting all of these chemicals and fertilizers and pesticides in my body.
Uh, when we go to the grocery store, we think we're buying healthy things because we're getting fruits and vegetables, but we don't realize how much. Stuff is on our food that we don't see. And the difference, like I, I needed to have Sylvia on the podcast because truly the difference of having baby carrots bought from the grocery store and having the carrots on her farm straight from the ground, it was night and day y'all, I mean, her carrots tasted so sweet.
Like who describes carrots as sweet unless they're roasted. When you roast carrots, they do get sweet, but just a raw baby carrot. Before visiting Green Door Gourmet, I would not have described that as sweet. So I'm really excited to have her on the podcast today and kinda explain what she does.
Some cooking tips, how to start, how to start buying smarter. Um, The importance of buying local. We're gonna talk about some tips for repurposing your produce that you're creating less food waste tips for starting to compost, if that's something that you are curious about. How do we know what to buy organic and. and just some other tips for storing your produce in the fridge so that it can stay fresher for longer. I think this is so important because that's one of the main complaints that I hear from y'all is, Hey, I'm buying healthy food, but it goes bad in like a day. So how do I keep stuff fresh? So she goes over so many different tips that are very practical that we need in order to eat healthier and contribute to a more sustainable and cleaner.
Society. Oh, this is so important. I'm just, I'm so excited for us to dive into the episode. So without further ado, here is Sylvia.
All right. Hello. Hello, y'all. I am so excited to welcome Sylvia to the podcast today, the C f O, the Chief Farm Officer of Green Door Gourmet. Sylvia, thank you so much for being on the Be About Being Better podcast.
sylvia: It's my pleasure. It's an honor to be with you.
abbie: Yay. Thank you so much. Well, you know, I always start with asking my guests the same opening question to keep our introductions interesting. So what is something that you've been through in your life that has ultimately changed your life for the better or made you better in the end?
sylvia: Well, you know, I was thinking about that question and it may seem, uh, a little. Odd to answer it this way, but many, many, many years ago when I decided to move to Nashville, I was, um, right out of college. Um, no money, no experience in Nashville, no job lined up and just literally put everything I own in the back of a. Truck and, and came to Nashville. So I think, um, that experience of, of coming to town and not really knowing anyone, not having, um, a safety net or anything like that really enabled me to. Grow as a person to find my own footing, if you will, and build my confidence and fall in love with the city. That
at that time, was a very, um, large, small town kind of feel, and now it's a, a big town kind of feel.
I think that was the biggest
for me, jumping out on the limb and, and really taking the bull by the horns and, and moving to a new place.
abbie: Oh, that's so good. And I have had a similar experience moving here in August and moving to a new city, barely knowing anyone, just jumping in. And um, this really is an amazing city and it has completely changed my life over the last couple months. So, um, I think that's a really great place to start. Now are you able to give us a quick overview of the history of Green Door Gourmet and how you started?
So you moved to Nashville? And how did you get things going?
sylvia: Well, uh, in the interim between moving to Nashville and starting Green Door, there were many things that happened in my life. Most of them involved around the hospitality industry. So, um, I had my own restaurant downtown for many years and when I thought I was going to retire from that and in 2006 I was also getting married and, um, we were moving out to my husband's family farm. And when we moved out here, I asked for a small kitchen garden. And because he's the kind of guy that doesn't understand, um, he. A hundred kind of guy. He fenced nine acres of the property. And so the next thing you know, I'm growing a lot of produce and people started stopping by and saying, what are you gonna do with the produce people I'd known in the restaurant
And that became yet another business. So now I can never retire.
abbie: Totally. Totally. Wow, that's so great. And how many acres do you have now?
sylvia: So the farm has always been 350 acres. Um, but we have about 152 acres in regenerative agricultural production. Uh, so that's crop rotation. And then there is also part of the property, um, that's very hilly. It has trees, forestry,
that sort of things. Lots of different, uh, topography here on the farm, but farming about 152 of the acres.
abbie: Wow, that is so amazing. So like, so large, especially you know, in a city like Nashville where people,
you know, when they think of Nashville, I think they think, you know, the Bachelorettes parties and Broadway and just city life. But there is so much land in Tennessee that people don't realize, you know, and this is really, it's really here.
So can you explain why it's important? To buy local and really the importance of getting produce at a farm like Green Door Gourmet.
sylvia: Sure. When we decided to open our farm to the
public, we wanted it to be a resource for nutrient dense food.
sylvia: I think that is one of the most important things that we can remember. Not only is it great for our local economy, you know every dollar that stays right here, local is another dollar that can be spent with another local business. And if you look at the last census, Um, which is, was very low. If you think about, uh, when the last census was 650,000 people approximately in metro Nashville, well, if each one of those people just spent $5 locally, um, with a farmer, um, or, or a rancher here in Tennessee, you're looking at millions of dollars. Um, on a weekly basis, if you just spend $5 a week and how much that could really help a lot of small farms, you know, pull up by the bootstraps if you will, and, um, do something that's good for them, but also do something that's good for your health. Eating locally allows the food to be as fresh as possible, and you also know face to face exactly. How it was grown. You can ask that farmer. If you go to a farmer's market or uh, a place like green Door, you can say, what did you use on your farm? Good example. Yesterday I had a woman come in and she was talking about, um, some of the things that she had been reading about and did our farm practice, any of that. We're, I'm like, absolutely not. We don't use bio sludge, we don't use, um, chemical fertilizers, we don't use fungicides. So, um, it was so nice to be able to be calming to her with small
children to say,
you know, this is how we farm, and I can take you and show you exactly how we do it. That was really awesome.
abbie: That's great. That's great. Where you can really get the answers. 'cause if you're just gonna the grocery store, there's no one really there to ask and you truly have no idea. And, instead of using, uh, I, I was really interested in this. When our intern class got to visit, but instead of using fertilizer or you know, pesticides or anything like that, you all do companion planting where the , the crops end up having this protective of effect against each other when certain ones are planted next to each other.
That was so cool.
sylvia: That's a part of the regenerative agriculture move in that we understand that as we have healthier soil, the plants themselves are healthier and they have more natural resistance in the plant itself, um, to a lot of disease or, um, even attraction for pests because the pest always
will go where there
is something that is not healthy in the field.
So healthy soil equals healthy food.
abbie: I love that. So good. And there was one statistic that you gave us that was.
So impactful, and I don't wanna mess it up, but farmers make up, I think, I believe you said either 5% or 1% of the population.
sylvia: So currently right now 1% of our population farms our food. So 1% of our
population are farmers. Um, and of that 1%. There's only 5% that grow what we call market crops. So the other 95% of the 1% are all growing, uh, corn, wheat, soy, the large commodity crops that a lot of time are just going right into feeding, you know, cattle operations or things like that.
Uh, making, um, ethylene ethanol, uh, gasoline and that sort of stuff. So you have
5% of 1%
growing all the food that we're gonna consume
in this country. Without importing anything.
abbie: that's just so wild to me. It's just so wild. So we really need farmers like you to make sure that we're doing this the right way, if that's where the majority of our food is coming from. I wanna make sure that we're doing that the right way. Um, so, and I was also surprised when we were literally pulling crops out of the ground to eat them.
That was the cleanest, literally eating swish chard from the dirt in the soil was the cleanest vegetable I had ever tasted, and I had no idea. That baby carrots could taste so sweet. Because when I get them at the grocery store, they almost like seem like they have some sort of film on them or something.
They just don't taste great 'cause of how they're processed and transported to try and keep them fresh. Um, but having your carrots, I'm like, oh my gosh, it's just so sweet. So why is it that when we get food at a farmer's market or a place at Green Door, why does it taste different than the produces that we get at the grocery store?
sylvia: Exactly what we were just talking about. That consideration of the soil quality is so vital. The plant can uptake more nutrients, more minerals, um, become naturally sweeter. Their vine or soil ripened, if you will, um, that they're being picked at the height of their ripeness because they're going to be sold right here.
They don't have to be transported. So you're tasting the perfect ability to pick something at its perfection and put it right into your hands. That's what a. Can do versus, um, you know, a large agricultural operation that is shipping things en masse and containers, you know, across the country. Um, you're gonna get a totally different flavor profile.
As I say, the baby carrot that you get right then being pulled out of the soil doesn't
need to be
dipped in hummus or a lot of ranch
make it palatable. It's already sweet, just like it's.
abbie: Yes. And that's really what I found. It's just so good. And so you're saying that
the caress that we would get at the grocery store are picked before they're right.
sylvia: So what I'm saying is, um, definitely things like strawberries, um, and, and fruits definitely are picked a little underwrite. Um, and then say a carrot, it has to undergo a process. So it is picked, you know, whenever they need to take that out of the field and they're gonna go through, they're gonna sort and if it meets a certain criteria, certain size, um, a certain color, all of that, then that gets put in a container and. Taken to the processing plant where it gets washed and once it's washed in a large commercial uh, facility,
it's probably gonna get dipped in something like a ate, which is a peroxide or a bleach type solution. Um, because they get tumbled when they get washed. And so that enables, you know, little microorganisms to get in there and it's quote for food safety.
But gosh, what if it didn't have to get tumbled and washed? To get put in a container, to sit in a moisture rich environment that could breed listeria, um, for a week before it even gets to you. What if literally it got picked that morning and it is being handed to you and you get to take it home
it and consume it, then you're avoiding all of that.
It's, it's amazing.
abbie: Yeah, so good. And I don't think people realize that their stuff is
like dipped in bleach before they're consuming it. Like that just can't be good for our health, our hormones, our GI system, like our body. And no wonder so many people have, you know, chronic health issues. We, we think we're eating healthy food by going to the store and buying baby carrots.
But we don't realize that we're consuming all of these toxins that are probably putting strain on our liver. And I don't know, just having a lot of toxic long-term effects that we might not see day to day.
sylvia: And baby carrots really aren't baby carrots. They're large carrots that have gotten peeled and and cut down and tumbled enough that they look a small size and it's a great marketing ploy to. They baby carrot just because they're small. But a true baby carrot, if you come to green door and you get a baby carrot, you can see that it is still attached to the, uh, greens that were growing above the ground.
And this was how large the carrot
was when it was picked. It has not been trimmed or, you know, um, modeled down if you will.
abbie: Yeah. Yeah. And I was so impressed that you all
use every part of. The, I mean, use every part of all the vegetables, but specifically for the carrot you were able to use, you know, the buying and the greens of it and to repurpose. So do you have any tips for repurposing and using all of the vegetables to create less waste?
sylvia: I think with just about any vegetable you can find, uh, secondary uses for lots of things, including, even if it's outer leaves of cabbage, um, you could either feed those to the chickens or you could put those in compost. So it doesn't always have to be, you know, human repurposed. It could be a good for the soil or good for other animals. But for something like a carrot, the carrot tops, we could make a pesto or a chimi chew out of those. Um, the carrot peels, if we were making something in our kitchen, um, for, you know, one of our deli items, those peels can go into making a stock as well, um, and cooked it down low and slow. Um, so you can use. Just about everything. Even strawberries, when you take the caps off, strawberries, most people just automatically throw those away, but you've already, you've washed them so they're clean. If you put that in a little bit of strawberry that's attached, usually when you cut the top off and a little bit of water and cook that down and then strain it off,
um, you can use that to make a fantastic
strawberry lemonade without getting rid of all your strawberries.
It will taste delicious, just.
abbie: Yeah. Oh, I've never heard that. That's such a good,
I'm gonna do that later today. That sounds delicious.
So good. And if people wanted to start composting at home, do you have any tips for that?
sylvia: As our city grows, having enough land to compost correctly is going be a challenge. Um, composting is not something as simple as getting a little barrel and, and putting it out there. You know, it requires a little more thought process to that. There's. A way that you balance the, the green with the brown and the right nutrients and how
long something's been in before something else goes in.
So it's, it's a little bit more than just, let's
start composting. But what you can do is you could contact someone like Compost Nashville and they do a service where literally you can compost just about anything, including meat and dairy scraps. Um, because they have a way to get things at a high enough temperature that it can break down, um, the, the, uh, matter that is going to be in there.
If you're composting at home, you would not want to put dairy or meat scraps of any kind in your compost. You would wanna keep it vegetables only, grass clippings, leaves, that sort of stuff. Um, but there are a ton of, uh, great. Uh, Online tutorials. There's also a lot of books, but if you wanna come out and see us at Green Door, we can give you a little tip or a pointer, but you really need to make sure that you probably have at least three separate bins about a yard wide each,
so you can move your compost from beginning stage to ready to use stage. And if you don't garden, Then you
wanna make sure you have a neighbor that gardens because you
wanna put that compost in action, right? You just don't want it to be sitting back
abbie: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Okay. These are really great tips and we'll be able to link some stuff up in the show notes and definitely put Compost Nashville and their resources in the show notes as well. And I'm sure every city has something like that.
abbie: I mean, I moved here from Manhattan and they even had resources too, and places where people could drop off.
So even in, you know, huge cities where there might not be a lot of greenery, they're, they're still doing it now. Uh, you mentioned strawberries, and I know that strawberries tend to be, um, something that is considered more of a dirtier vegetable. And so many of our listeners see on TikTok. Just how disgusting when people show on, on the internet how dirty their strawberries are.
Uh, so it's, you know, definitely important to clean them. Um, but they tend to be one of the highest things on the environmental working groups. Dirty Dozen, clean 15 list and recommend that they do buy organic. So is the ewg, is there is their dirty dozen clean 15 list something that we can trust? Do you recommend that?
Do you think it's accurate?
sylvia: I think it's a fabulous resource. I. Everyone has to utilize their resources, um, to their highest advantage. And if you have someone that has spent the time and has done the research to let you know if you're gonna spend your hard earned money, spend your money on these things that are organic or, um, local that you know the source, keep the money there versus say, an avocado that is not. You're not gonna consume the outer peel. Um, they're not putting a lot of fertilizer into the ground, so it's not coming up through the root system of the plant. So, um, if you don't buy an organic avocado, it's not as bad straw. So I think looking at those lists and understanding what to buy. There's also a fun little book called Can You Trust a Tomato in January, and that talks about, um, shopping seasonally, um, knowing your farmer, knowing how something has grown as well. Strawberries this year, uh, topping out the dirty dozen. They, um, they found at least 18 different chemicals. And when we say dirty, we're not just talking about having soil residue to wash off, we're talking about the need to, um, decrease the, the amount of chemical,
um, that could possibly be on anything you're consumed.
It seems fruit. Is extremely high. Um, that, and that is simply because growing fruit is very difficult because of, um, fungal activity. Um, water and fruit don't mix. And so as you know, as soon as you start to wash your produce, it begins to disintegrate. And so trying to keep, um, you know, all the, the pest and the, the, the. fungus off of fruit is very difficult and that's why most large growers of fruit are not organic and they are spraying. Just because something is organic does not mean that it is not sprayed. That is something that's very important to know. It is just what chemical can be used. According to the government regulation, it would need to be a nonsynthetic chemical, quote unquote, um, that gets used.
So I think a lot of times people confuse organic with chemical free,
and that's not exactly the, the one-to-one ratio over there, if you know what I mean. So,
sylvia: we, we try to say, we, we endeavor to be zero pesticide. We truly mean that. We're not. Putting things on our plants. Um, you know, we work in symbiotic, uh, relationship with nature.
We may use nemo, which comes from the neme tree. Um, but that's, you know, that's the track crop that, uh, we're probably gonna sacrifice. We put a little ne oil on that and we're not gonna harvest that for, for sale. So it's, it's a
little more than just buy organic. It really is. Know the
abbie: Know the source. And would we be able to trust something that says pesticide free or still Not really.
sylvia: I would have to see what that label really look like. It might say, um, organic, you know, certified organic or something like that. But pesticide free, I don't think I've ever seen in a grocery store setting for it to say. Chemical free or pesticide free.
say organic, but I don't know that I have ever seen it in a grocery store.
I'd have to.
abbie: And then if we, if we do see that it says certified organic, you're saying like they could still be spraying it with something, but it would just be something that would be regulated.
sylvia: Right. That's what the government would regulate and say if it doesn't fit on the, what is known as the O M R I listing. Um, and that can change something, be on the list one year and the next year it's taken off. So, um, you can go to, um, The U S D A and you can look up all the things that can be used, um, on plants and still be certified organic.
abbie: Now, what's the best way to wash your fruits and
vegetables? Do you trust those like veggie sprays that you leave on for two minutes and then rinse off or no?
sylvia: If you have tap water at your house, use water. You do not need to use all the fancy things. Um, most of those have. Typically a little bit of, um, peroxide, you know, SaniDate or something like that in there. So you have to really watch you, you may be unintentionally adding something to your food that you didn't realize.
You just thought, oh, this is a
way to clean my produce, and you didn't understand that. It might have
some things in there
that you didn't on your, you.
abbie: Yeah. Okay. So just use water. Right.
sylvia: Wash, rinse, repeat.
abbie: All right. That sounds good. Now, how can we make produce last longer? Because that's a huge complaint that I get from clients and and listeners. It's like, I really wanna buy produce, but it just goes so quickly. In the fridge before I even get a chance to eat it. Or, you know, sometimes they'll get a bag of spinach and they're like, I honestly forgot that it was in there and now it's wilted.
Don't really trust it. So how can we, um, keep our produce in the fridge, keeping it fresh as long as we can.
sylvia: That is
a multi, we could talk an entire segment on that and I'll, I'll try to boil it down into a quick answer for
know if it should go in the refrigerator at all. Sometimes you will put in the refrigerator and they don't go in there so, Finding out what should be stored where, first and foremost second, what are you storing with it?
If you're putting fruit in with your veggies, then it's gonna, uh, emit off ethylene gas and the fruit's gonna be happy, and the veggie is gonna be miserable. So know what to store with what. And then last but not least, remember, your refrigerator is a dehydrator. So if you're putting your leafy greens and you know, your baby greens and everything in there, um, it's the refrigerator's job to pull out as much moisture out of those leaves as it can.
So, um, if you. Put it in the appropriate, you know, bag if you will. Um, you can reuse a shopping bag to, uh, wrap up the head of your, uh, kale or something like that, to give it a little protection from the refrigerator, just drawing out all the moisture or your salad greens. But if you get them and you're like, oh, they're looking a little sad, they need a little bit of love, they're kind of wilty.
What you can do is in a clean sink, uh, make an ice water bath. Put your leafy greens in there, baby greens, just as they are. If it's kale or collards or something like that, you'd wanna cut a little in just like you would with flowers because they have, um, chemically sealed off being able to intake water. Now you have opened that again and now they're gonna drink the water and they're gonna fluff right back up so you can hydro cool, which is a term we use here on the farm. Your vegetables, and it will be just, You know, like you bought 'em. Um, if you get home after shopping and they look a little sad, go ahead and hydroco 'em right then pop 'em in the, in the fridge.
And last but not least, if you're buying those beautiful carrots and they have the tops still attached to 'em when you get home, go ahead and cut those tops off and store them separately, because the carrot itself is gonna send all of its nutrient up to those greens to try to keep those greens alive. So what you want to do is go ahead and stop that process. Use the greens first, store your carrots properly, and that way they won't get soft or,
um, kind a little shrive because they're doing their job of trying to keep the greens alive. So just separate them.
abbie: Awesome. Awesome. I love that. Just, you
know, taking us through all the bullet points and I think that was really helpful and I didn't know that about the ice bath and almost treating our greens like flowers and cutting off the ends and reviving them. That's amazing. So that's really gonna help a lot of people.
Thank you. Is there anything else, any other like , quick tips that come to mind that you think listeners should know?
sylvia: Don't wash your produce until you're going to use it.
sylvia: one thing thrown away in the United States are things that we buy like strawberries, and we get them home. We go, oh, we think they're dirty. I'm gonna wash them before I put them in my fridge. Well, you wash those strawberries on Saturday night and you go to get 'em Sunday for brunch, and they've already started to get really mushy and bad. So there are a lot of things that if you look at using water, Like the Grand Canyon. If you look at the Grand Canyon, you see that the river going through made that canyon water can disintegrate things. Don't put it on your produce until you're ready to use it. It will help your produce stay, um, more, viable
until you're ready to use it, especially your fruit.
abbie: Love that. That's a great tip.
Hey, and then the last question that I always ask is, what is something that you plan to do for your health this week that's going to make your week better?
sylvia: Well, my thing for my health this week is hydration. I am a terrible hydrator. I admit it. I'm very busy all the time, and I don't stop to get, uh, enough water, not coffee. Not anything else but water into my system. So drinking good, clean water in abundance is my commitment to myself because we had a hot week this week, and as it gets warmer, our body is going to be needing more
and I am going to commit to you that I'm gonna do that this
abbie: Yay. Okay, great. Awesome. Yeah, the weather
has really taken a
turn. Um, I mean, it's pretty chilly today, but this whole week. Really warm and, uh, definitely dehydrating. So I think that's a great goal. Love it. Well, Sylvia, thank you so much for joining us today on the podcast. I, I appreciate your time and all of your wisdom and all of your tidbits.
You're doing amazing work in Nashville and I can't wait to keep, helping spread your message and keep making our world healthier. So thank you for all you do.
sylvia: My pleasure and I'll look forward to seeing you and some of your followers out at Green Door.
abbie: Sounds good. Thank you.
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