034 – Nora Pouillon, Restaurant Nora
It’s time for the 2016 Virginia Festival of the Book! In this special episode I’m thrilled and honored to present Chef Nora Pouillon, who will speak and sign copies of her book, My Organic Life, on Friday, March 18th at 2pm in New Dominion Bookshop. Chef Pouillon is a pioneer in the farm to table movement. For 37 years Restaurant Nora in DC has implemented sustainable practices and in 1999 became the first organically-certified restaurant in the US. Before the government even coined the term “organic” Chef Pouillon was working with farmers and creating her menus daily based on what was seasonal. She pushed for local, additive-free food at a time when folks considered it “hippie food” – lentils and lettuce. As we know from its popularity today, it’s anything but.
In this episode we talk about the laborious process involved in certifying a restaurant, something that had never been done before she thought of it, as well as the extra effort it takes to keep up the certification and train staff in organic practices. She has a 3-ring binder of certifications for every ingredient. Her water filtration system takes up an entire room. She must buy drums of oil rather than small bottles. And I haven’t even mentioned the organic cleansers, the paint on the walls, the carpeting, the dishes. She stays incredibly organized. And this is on top of all her other restaurant duties. What’s the ONE item in her restaurant she can’t source organically? Listen to find out. It’s probably not what you think!
How do we slow down and become aware of what we’re putting into our bodies? Especially when we live in a world where chemicals and additives are everywhere, not just in our food but in our clothes, our mattresses, our children’s toys. Even in our water. What are small, doable ways to incorporate organic into everyday living? Can we see making dinner as not just another chore, but as a way to slow down, be more aware, to reflect not just on what we eat but how we spend our days? Can we learn to visit the local butcher and talk with them instead of just throwing a prepackaged meat from who knows where into our grocery carts?
Yes, organic is more expensive than typical produce. It’s challenging to grow, there’s more hand labor, the farms are smaller, and there aren’t any tricks to keep the produce fresher longer. It’s the difference between wearing a designer dress and something from WalMart. Organic produce has more nutritional value because there are no pesticides, so in the long run you will be healthier. And wouldn’t you rather spend your money on food than the doctor? Plus it tastes so much better.
Presidents and celebrities, including James Beard, have dined at her eponymous restaurant. Chef Pouillon remains an inspiration to all women in the food industry because at a time when most didn’t work outside the home, she was running a successful restaurant. She is one of the most fascinating women I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Her passion and dedication to organic living is one to emulate. I know you’ll enjoy this conversation as much as I did. Cheers!
This episode is sponsored by In A Flash Laser Engraving.
Thank you to Team Podcast who helped me with sound issues on this episode. Christy Haussler is a MASTER of the medium and worth every penny. Cheers Christy!
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