When you live on a farm and are able to eat food that you grow or raise yourself, you have a very different connection to what is on your plate. At Taino Farm, we try to base our meals on what is available. Eating this way can be a challenge as it requires some creativity; you think of ways to cook with what you have instead of basing meals on what you feel like and buying the ingredients. However, the reward is huge. When I eat food straight from our garden, not only do I notice the intense difference in taste by eating the freshest food possible, but there is a sense of pride that comes with being a part of the process of growing it – from planting to harvesting. I swear food tastes better just knowing that you were there helping it grow along the way.
Besides growing fruit and vegetables, we have animals including chickens, turkeys, cows, sheep and the fish in our aquaponics system. By raising animals in a sustainable, respectful and very humane way, we hope to provide omnivores with sustainable food options. When we have volunteers, a common want is to have more of a connection to the food they eat and this often includes meat. Our most recent volunteer, Andreas from Sweden, had the ambition to learn how to butcher a chicken. He feels that this is an important skill for all meat eaters to have. I asked him to write about the experience. The following excerpt is written by Andreas. It is not necessarily the opinion of Taino Farm, but we respect and appreciate volunteers having the courage to share their experience by writing for us.
“Today I learned how to kill, pluck and prepare a rooster.
I think the killing itself is something we in the west are so distant from that we find the act itself repulsive and sickening, but it’s important to relearn how to prepare your own food and all aspects of it. On a farm you kill what you need to eat. You don’t kill for fun. We also try to use the most humane possible way of doing this – ways that are the least stressful for the animal in comparison to factory farmed meat that most people in the western world eat on a daily basis.
Meat bought at the supermarket is rarely local and the life of that animal has been, to say the least, horrible. The amount of fossil fuels that have gone into transporting, packaging and cooling the meat and the amount of non biodegradable styrofoam packaging and plastic wrapping that comes with it is a wasteful and unsustainable practice. It is a reminder of how society has long ago become detached from nature.
We see our chicken fillets in the meat desk of the supermarket and somehow the connection between a living animal and our food in the toxic wrapping we buy is lost.
What happens if the world economy collapses and people don’t know how to kill and prepare their own food? Will we go vegetarian by default?
We are in the hands of big multinational corporations that control not only our food supply but print money out of “thin air” and keep us docile by poisoning everything we touch, wear, brush our teeth with, and use to wash our clothes and bodies. You name it – everything you think of contains poison that does not need to be there! And soon enough clean drinking water will not even be a human right anymore.
Bottom line, if we can’t kill and prepare our own food that we know has had a good life on our own or a neighbour’s farm, that is organic, sustainable, and part of the life we had always lived before the coming of industrialism and the discovery of oil, then we should stop eating meat at all.”
by Andreas Nordgren
At the eXtreme Hotel and Taino Farm, our focus is on living a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. We all love eating delicious food but many of us don’t realize many of the tasty treats you find at a grocery store are detrimental to both your health and your environment. On the other hand, we know after the hundredth time that plain kale and olive oil salad can get pretty tiresome. So, we decided to put our wonderful produce from Taino Farm to use and create the Taino Farm and eXtreme Hotel’s Organic Cookbook. The collaborative project is designed to benefit not only the eXtreme staff, Taino farm workers and hotel guests, it can also be tweaked slightly (depending on what is local and available) to make healthy, amazing food wherever you are in the world. We chose recipes with three things in mind:
1. Are the ingredients grown locally and sustainably? Read about the importance of growing and buying local and organic food in my previous article.
2. Is it affordable and easy to make?
3. Are the ingredients nutritious and delicious?
I’ll be posting the recipes individually on the Taino Farm blog and the whole thing will be available at the end. Look out for a “GL” throughout the recipes to signify which ingredients are grown locally!
Eggplant and Sweet Potato Salad
This salad is a nice break from traditional green salads. All the vegetables in it can be grown locally in the north of the Dominican Republic, and are often in abundant supply. Eggplants and sweet potatoes are great ground cover plants and thus are staples at our developing farm. It can be made in advance, and stores in the fridge quite well. Just be sure to add the avocados and tomatoes right before serving.
2 eggplants, purple or yellow GL (Or replace with squash or portabella mushrooms)
2 sweet potatoes GL
1-2 large avocados GL (Out of season or don’t grow locally? Try pureed and cooked asparagus or broccoli!)
4-6 tomatoes, yellow or red GL
1 whole cucumber, skinned and chopped GL
salt/pepper to taste
¼ onion finely chopped GL
2 cloves raw garlic, grated GL
a sprig or two of fresh tarragon GL
¼ olive oil (or coconut oil)
1.) Slice eggplants into bite sized chunks, toss with about 1/8 cup olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and cook in the oven at about 375 for approximately half an hour, or until done. Let cool.
2.) Slice sweet potatoes into bite sized chunks and toss in 1/8 cup olive oil. Bake at 375 until done, set aside to cool.
3.) Slice tomatoes, cucumber & avocado into a large bowl. Add the cooked vegetables, and the remaining ingredients.
Variations: This salad can be made with any root vegetable (yucca, potato etc…) and with or without eggplant. It is an example of a filling vegetarian side dish, utilizing local vegetables, that is both healthy and delicious. The tarragon can be replaced with cilantro, or basil. Also delicious with fresh lime juice served on top.
Note: Original recipes by Kelsey Rush. Post and photography by Lynsey Wyatt.