Restaurants’ menus are often divided into four groups of food; appetizers, soup and salad, main courses and dessert. All four groups are prepared based on the recipes of the ingredients, which are grown on the farms.
In the United States, farm and ranch families, which operate the majority of the agricultural production, comprise of just two percent of the U.S. population. Mexico’s agricultural industry accounts for more than 18% of the nation’s employment, not counting the Mexicans who work in the fields of our country. Last week, I wrote about our dining experience at the ACRE restaurant in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. After having dinner there two nights in a row and befriending the owner and his staff, the next day we were invited to visit the farm to see from where they grow the food they prepared for us. The current owners bought 25 acres of a mango grove three years ago, which was damaged during a hurricane. Our tour guide was Kevin Luzande, a young and talented chef, who while living and working in different restaurants in Los Angeles, also owned a hydroponic farm, there.
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. To have hydrophonic farms you need to build a specially designed building. There, plants grow vertically year-round, immune to weather, under optimal conditions (In San Francisco you can find such a farm at 1549 Custer Avenue). I first learned about this technology from the book “Abundance” written by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. In the book, the authors describe different technological innovations in various spheres of our lives, including agriculture, which create abundance for a sustained growing population.
While we had our dinners the nights before (trying out different foods every time), with every dish we exclaimed, “This is amazing!” On our tour that morning at the farm, we said the same thing. The farmland is divided into 11 parcels, for different crops, attended by six gardeners. Kevin told us that by planting different vegetables next to each other, they not only absorb the qualities of the neighboring plants, but they also help each other deal with the pests. One plot was planted with forty different spices, while another, had different kinds of potatoes and cabbages. There were different types of sunflowers; one of them will grow 9 ft. tall (Kevin is using every part of the plant in his culinary alchemy). Everything is grown organic, without the use of pesticides, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms or ionizing radiation. Even corn was planted from seeds that were not being genetically modified by the American company, Monsanto. The farm is still young, but in a few months, plants will grow tall and fill the plates of the lucky diners with delicious results. In the future, guests will be invited to visit the farm and pull out ready vegetables to be eaten right there or to be prepared with their favorite dish.
I am planning to come back to ACRE on January 13th 2017 to celebrate my 70th birthday. Why would not you plan to join me there?
P.S. It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. At the same time no picture can convey the experience of being in the farm pulling a radish from the ground and eating it right there, smelling the aroma of the freshly cut herb and just looking at the pile of soil, knowing that within a short time it is going to be covered by beautiful green growth which will end up in the kitchen, to be transformed into a delicious meal.
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