Quick question: Did you know the environment in which your vegetables grow can actually affect their flavor? According to Dan Barber, executive chef and co-owner of Blue Hill Farm, the growing process can make or break the difference between a really good veggie and one that lacks, well, pizazz. It's true: "Pick a carrot that lived through the near-freezing temperatures in the last four or five days, that temperature converted the starches in the carrot to sugars and raised the brix," he shares on a special episode of the mindbodygreen podcast with early release to guests of the Lexus Retreats in Motion program. "And when you raise the brix, you get all sorts of nutrition that wasn't there before, and you also get sweetness because brix is sugar."
You might expect such a sentiment from a nutritionist or functional medicine expert—but as Barber would argue, "All chefs are nutritionists because in the pursuit of flavor, a truly delicious vegetable has to be from the right seed, and it has to be grown in the right soil. You can't get truly jaw-droppingly delicious flavor unless it's from good, biologically active soil." And with that microbial-rich soil comes a heaping dose of nutrients. Who knew flavor and nutrition have such a mutually beneficial relationship?
Sign up for one of the Lexus Retreats in Motion programs, and you'll hear more about Barber's perspective on nutrient density (and how to grow the most flavorful carrot you've ever tasted). You'll also learn why he thinks regenerative agriculture has become a nebulous, catchall term, why 100% pasture should be the new standard for the industry, and the reason the alternative meat movement isn't so sustainable for farms after all.
He also discusses how he believes COVID-19 will affect how people approach food, hopefully prioritizing a healthy, balanced plate since food quality is connected to so many underlying metabolic conditions. It sheds new light on how we're treating animals and agriculture in general as well—raising grass-fed, organic animals can not only enhance the health of those animals themselves (and your own health, too, when you consume them) but also can improve the environment writ large.
The bottom line? "My hope is that people have a new relationship with food coming out of this, a new consciousness," he notes, one that strays away from the "food as fuel" mentality and perhaps introduces a "food as medicine" paradigm. The food you eat matters, and it matters where it comes from. Something to reflect on the next time you're munching on a plate of sweet, roasted carrots.