by guest blogger Eugenia Bone, journalist, food writer, co-president of the New York Mycological Society, and author of the new book Mycophilia
1. Why is living organic important to you?
Living organic is important to me for reasons of health, pleasure, economics, and politics. Organic food is free of chemicals that were created to interrupt the life cycles of insects, which are animals. We are animals! Plus, organic foods are more flavorful and hold up better after cooking. And by buying from organic farmers, especially those who are small, local growers, I keep my dollars in my local economy. When your dollars stay in your community, they reinforce the local economy. Also, in making the choice to eat organically, and by extension, support my local growers, I am decreasing my food-related footprint. Foods that travel shorter distances not only taste better because they have spent less time on the road, but also use less fossil fuels for transportation, refrigeration, and mechanized growing techniques. I’d rather spend more money on local organic foods than have the burden of savings be passed to future generations by means of environmental degradation and its subsequent costs.
2. What was your favorite food growing up?
My father’s home-canned tuna fish, which he put up every September on Cape Cod. I put up tuna myself now, because of the quality of flavor, of course, but also because it takes me back to my childhood: helping my father bring a 100-plus-pound silvery tuna from the piers in my red wagon, a parade of children and seagulls following, then running cold water over the fish in the bathtub for 12 hours to remove the blood, then his butchering the fish on the big marble table and packing the glistening pink flesh into glass jars. It was marvelous.
3. What’s your go-to comfort food now?
In the fall, mushrooms, ripe with the smells of earth and rain and falling leaves; in the spring, mixed found vegetables—dandelion greens, purslane, and lamb’s-quarters, cooked in a stew with garlic and hot pepper—with farm eggs poached on top; in the winter, cranberry bean soup cooked in a terra-cotta pot with the rinds of Parmesan cheese; and in the summer, fried zucchini flowers, crisp and aromatic as the early morning air in the mountains.
4. What’s the one thing in your kitchen you just couldn’t live without?
Plentiful, inexpensive, clean tap water. This is a luxury we enjoy in New York City, though few realize its value. Or that it is under assault.
5. What magazine, website, book, album, or product are you most obsessed with right now?
I am obsessed with mushrooms, so FUNGI magazine, which is a fabulous mix of the highbrow and lowbrow; the mushroom books by Gary Lincoff, Paul Stamets, Nicholas P. Money, and a host of others; the music of Jose Conde, experimental Latin/salsa—I listen to Ola Fresca all the time! And candy cap mushrooms. I buy them dried from Far West Fungi, or hunt them in December in Northern California. They taste like maple syrup!
6. What’s the most important news story today that you think we all need to pay more attention to?
I think few people are aware of the creep of hydro-fracking and its negative effect on water resources, land values, and the industrialization of farmland and wilderness. I am afraid someday soon people will wake up and say, “Why isn’t my water safe to drink anymore?”
7. Where do you get your news?
Newspapers (The New York Times, particularly), public television, and books by serious academics and journalists.
Eugenia Bone is a nationally recognized journalist and food writer and co-president of the New York Mycological Society. She has written four books: Mycophilia (published by Rodale in October 2011), At Mesa’s Edge (nominated for a Colorado Book Award), Italian Family Dining, and Well Preserved (nominated for a James Beard Award). She is a frequent contributor to culinary publications, including Saveur and Food & Wine. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children. [www.mycophilia.com]