Outstanding in the Field

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Tonya at "Outstanding in the Field"

Tonya at “Outstanding in the Field”

You are no doubt familiar with the saying “you are what you eat”, but do you know how that phrase came to into common use? The earliest reference is credited to the French Dr. Anthelme Brillat-Savarin who wrote in 1826 “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are”.  In 1863 German philosopher Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach in an essay wrote “man is what he eats”.

Neither Brillat-Savarin nor Feuerbach meant their quotations to be taken literally. They were stating that the food one eats has a bearing on what one’s state of mind and health. When you eat well, you are well!

The actual phrase didn’t emerge in English until sometime later. The earliest known printed example is from an advertisement for beef in a 1923 edition of the Bridgeport Telegraph which read “Ninety percent of the diseases known to man are caused by cheap foodstuffs.  You are what you eat.”

If you’re like me you find it difficult to break old habits, but you can always find time to immerse in a new hobby. The Conway household hobby is meeting farmers and eating what’s fresh from their fields. It’s been great fun, saved a ton of money and we’ve lost between Tonya and me a combined sixty pounds!

The “farm to table” movement began gaining serious momentum in August of 1999 when chef and artist Jim Denevan founded “Outstanding in the Field”. He started by inviting friends to dine IN the farmers field on foods FROM the farmers field that were cooked right in the field. Jim’s mission was to re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it.

Farmer Dale Volkert

Farmer Dale Volkert

Outstanding in the Field is a roving culinary adventure – literally a restaurant without walls. Over the past 15 years they have hosted nearly one thousand events in fields all across the country. Tonya and me shared in one adventure recently when we dined in the field at Lake Meadows Naturals in Ocoee, Florida with farmer Dale Volkert.

Dale raised his first hens with his Dad for a 4-H project in 1960 as a young boy in Wisconsin before going on to a successful career in the import-export business. Dale’s business acumen has allowed Lake Meadows Naturals to serve as a sales and distribution point for other small farms in the area. You can purchase Dale’s fresh chicken and duck eggs at the Fresh Fields Market on University Blvd in Jacksonville!

Wally Conway's Grandma's Plate

Wally Conway’s Grandma’s Plate

Imagine if you will the thrill of 160 people sitting at a single table in Dale’s field, knowing that everything you are about to eat was grown within sight of your table! Adding to the fun of it all is the Outstanding in the Field tradition of each person bringing their own plate, so the table is set with hundreds of different plates. Everyone shared a story about their plates. Our plates were my Grandmothers, the same plates we had holiday dinners on growing up in New Jersey.

Would you like to try a taste of the local farm to table scene? Jacksonville is a hotbed for local farm to table events and activities. They range from the ultra-exclusive Legends Dining Series to the weekend markets at Jarboe Park, the Riverside Arts Market and roadside stands around town.

An upcoming event that you won’t want to miss is the annual “Slow Food First Coast Tour de Farm”. Held from noon to 5 PM on Sunday April 13th, this event is an open invitation to over twenty local farms.  At each farm you can see how your food is grown, meet the fine families who farm it and enjoy a taste of the groceries they grow. Also, several farms will feature local chefs preparing a special sampling of the finest in local fare.  The tickets are only $5 each; you can get your tickets as well as the list of farms at www.SlowFoodFirstCoast.org

Slow Food Logo

Slow Food Logo

Are you what you eat, or are you something more? You can be more than just what you eat. You can be a part of the heart and mind of those who grow what you eat, of where you eat and of those who you eat with.  Please share your fresh food adventures with me wally@MrHomeInspection.com