In this column for the Atlantic.com, Michel talks about the role of farmers markets and how his mother’s garden influenced his career as a chef and sustainability advocate.
Real Food for All: The Role of Farmers Markets:
“…You could open the garage door of our prefab house in Des Plaines, Illinois, during the early ’60s and see neat stacks of meticulously marked cases of Ball Mason jars labeled banana peppers, tomatoes, green beans, apples, pickled peaches, beets, and so on. The maker was my mom, a displaced farmer from Scott County, Missouri, who torch-sang her way north when it became apparent that life on a south-central Midwest farm was no longer an option for a living. The “terroir” was our backyard garden at 9301 Noel Street, and what was left of a few farm stands on Golf Road. The “consumers” were our family of six—Mom, Dad, and us four kids.
The context that created the garden and all those boxes of wonderful food was significant: our family had very limited income and was managed by parents who had lived through the Great Depression. That both parents had to work full-time to make ends barely meet would explain their belief that the “next Depression” was imminent…”