A Visit to My Kitchen: Temra Costa

Temra is a nationally recognized sustainable food and farming advocate. Her recent book, Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat, is the product of the eight years she spent working to create a more vibrant local food economy in California and beyond. She’s a radio show co-host on Green 960 (TheGreenMorning.com, works as a sustainable food systems consultant for nonprofits and businesses, and is a public speaker on the subject of sustainable food and farming. Temra works, cooks, gardens, and writes in the East Bay of California and continues to tell the story of women and food through her website at FarmerJane.org.

Why is living organic important to you?

Like the majority of people, I didn’t grow up with an organic lifestyle. I grew up in the Midwest, and didn’t start thinking about it until 1998, when certification became available and I got involved with the Center for Food Safety’s campaign to preserve organic standards. That’s when the USDA went into the whole business of organic certification. Isn’t it just a crime against the planet and humanity that “organic” is a certification, but all of the pesticides and genetically modified foods don’t have to be labeled?! I dream of the day when these certifications are reversed, and “organic” becomes the baseline for our lives, when, no matter what our income, products will have to have that level of responsibility. (Sorry for the rant; I get fired up about this stuff!)

Today, organic is important for me for the planet’s sake, the workers’ sake, for my body’s sake, for future generations’ sake. It’s simple. It makes sense. Organic is better for everyone.

Photo Credit Jan Mangan

What was your favorite food growing up?

My love affair with seasonal, local, and organic foods didn’t really happen until the end of my teens, when I started college and did my own food shopping. But when I was little, I used to love the fresh raspberries and blackberries that we’d pick, the fried fish that we would catch and batter and fry, and the corn on the cob. But I also loved junk food—Spaghetti Os, mac ‘n’ cheese, Cap’n Crunch…all that junk! I thought it was amazing because those were the commercials I saw when I watched my Saturday-morning cartoons. That was, until I learned about real food. I mean, real mac and cheese versus boxed mac and cheese? There’s no comparison.

What’s your go-to comfort food now?

Soup! I love to make soups with really great broths. I save all of my vegetable scraps and make big stocks out of them, and then add additional vegetables to the stock and blend it all up.

What’s the one thing in your kitchen you just couldn’t live without?
My knives. Hands down.

What magazine, website, book, album, or product are you most obsessed with right now?

Book: The latest book proposal I’m working on, and The United States of Arugula; I LOVE David Kamp!

Websites: Civileats and Farmbrarian

Album: Pandora radio—why choose just one? My Angus and Julia Stone, Sean Hayes, and Jolie Holland station is pretty amazing.

Product: Patagonia capilene underlayers—so comfy and warm!

What’s the most important news story today that you think we all need to pay more attention to?

The obesity and diabetes epidemics, and their relation to the upcoming 2012 Farm Bill! We really have to shift those billions of dollars into a food system that is healthy for us and for the planet. After all, we only get one body, and one planet.

Where do you get your news?

The usual places? The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Civil Eats, Grist, Twitter, and Facebook.

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4 Responses to A Visit to My Kitchen: Temra Costa

  1. kimberly March 31, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    A woman after my own heart – Soup for comfort and good knives in the kitchen!!

  2. lorettainnz March 31, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    lots of research showing the protein in animal products is really harmful for cancer and diabetes and heart disease. yes organic is essential however so is not eating animal protein. do the research, plenty there , make sure it is not not funded by dairy and meat boards. Not to mention the absolute cruelty of farming and eating animals and treating them as objects to be used.

  3. Donna in Delaware March 31, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    We keep telling this to the world and few listen. Maybe someday, hopefully soon, they will hear. Keep up the good work!

  4. Bonnie April 6, 2011 at 4:47 am #

    Soup, kitchen knives and home grown food! UNBEATABLE!

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