After years of moving towards this climax I am finally here. From now on everything cooked on Lazaro Cooks! will be sustainable, organic, and seasonal, without exception. Let’s get this one right out of the way: I know that for many of you reading this my SOS is cost prohibitive; for this fact I am truly sorry. Being the son of Cuban immigrants my upbringing was not easy; we struggled to get by. However, I am an adult now and in a much better position to make a positive change for my family. Although, can I really make a difference in this big world? Who the hell am I anyway? Am I powerless? Well, I can effect change every time I go to the market. Being in complete control of what I cook, serve, and suggest to my friends, guests, customers, colleagues, and loved ones is true power. Business is driven by supply and demand; if you demand better from your local food retailers they will supply it. Supporting organically produced food is respecting food and by extension respecting life.
Factory farming is vile, soulless, pitiless, unforgiving, and merciless. The practices in industrial farming houses for cattle, chicken, pigs, and various other foodstuffs are not acceptable. Yet, the food is cheap and everyone loves cheap, right?! Factory farming is all about growing things faster, fatter, cheaper, and bigger, but is it really cheaper? We are an obese nation and growing fatter by the hour. The strain this is putting on our health care system is unsustainable. Type 2 diabetes is running rampant amongst adults and children. People are infected daily with Escherichia coli, trichinosis, and salmonella, three diseases that are the calling cards of factory farming. The huge multinational conglomerates that operate and profit from factory farms do not give a shit about you or your family. They don’t care about their undocumented workers, and they certainly could care less about the livestock. What do these corporate animals care about, you may ask? Well, they care about two things, their boards and their bottom lines. Please do not take my word for it; do the research, look at the photos, watch the videos, and read the articles written by people much smarter than I. The facts you will find are irrefutable and life-changing.
When perusing our local markets we gaze upon case after case of beautifully butchered produce. It is easy to forget that every piece of meat, chicken, pork, or fish was once a living, breathing animal. It is incumbent upon us to take the time to research where our food comes from and how the animals were treated. Organic livestock are born and raised with respect and dignity. Grazing on pristine pastures, they roam free in the sunshine, with unrestricted access to clean food and water. Cattle are naturally herbivores, feeding on grass, forage, and herbs; that is how I want my beef to be bred. I have immense pity for cattle that are force fed corn, grain, cow remains, and chicken remains, whilst being kept confined, standing side by side, knee deep in their own manure. Which would you rather serve at your next dinner party?
Sustainability is the capacity to endure. When used in the context of our oceans and the fish that inhabit them, the term is on the verge of meaning no more. Over time the diversity of our fish populations has dwindled. The conditions of our oceans, lakes, rivers, and creeks have deteriorated to unacceptable levels. Habitat destruction, chemical pollution, and overfishing of certain species are at the forefront of why fish are disappearing. Humans have been fishing the ocean for thousands of years. Technology has allowed us to fish deeper and farther than ever before. Some methods are incredibly efficient, while others have us on the verge of disaster. Those of us who derive sustenance from the ocean must take responsibility and support only sustainable fish. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has an amazingly detailed website offering guides to seafood. On their site you will find comprehensive studies on what seafood to avoid, great alternatives, and much more educational information. Marx Foods is a reputable online seafood purveyor that will overnight fresh seafood to your door, such as sablefish, one of our most wonderfully sustainable fish.
The advent of modern refrigeration transportation has distorted the seasonal boundaries. Why should we use out-of-season ingredients from another hemisphere? No matter where you live in this country you have countless local farmers producing sustainable organic produce for sale. For every out-of-season item there is another at its peak. As cooks we should learn to broaden our produce horizons and use all varieties. It is said that absence makes the heart grow fonder and that is precisely my feeling on seasonal foods. Reward chefs that make seasonal produce a staple of their menus. Become active by visiting working farms in your area. Aside from being a glorious day in the sun, visiting farms is a perfect way to educate children about where their foods come from. Local Harvest is a fantastic site to find any working farms in your area. When shopping for produce, there are two important questions you should always keep in the forefront of your mind. What is good? What is in season? Take advantage of your local growers’ hard work and enthusiasm; your dishes will be better for it.
In the end, I have decided to do what is right for my family and me. Everything in life happens according to your personal plan; there are no mistakes in the universe. I have always said that I would have children when I was the best possible version of myself. Luckily, I am still growing and evolving as a person and by the time the little ones come along I can bequeath my accrued knowledge. On a broader scale, my SOS, sustainable organic and seasonal, is a plea to make a difference today. Planet Earth is a shared environment. At some point the policy of passing the buck will be at an end. The check will eventually have to be paid. Our policy makers are bent on ensuring that future generations will have to deal with catastrophic environmental disasters. I am not. I have decided to do my part. Will you? Ultimately, the only things we leave behind are our deeds and our name.