Ingredients like kale, chia seeds, agave and strawberry radishes were main attractions at Goodwin’s market. Before Wednesday night I’d hardly known what each of these ingredients were, let alone felt confident enough to purchase them as a college student. Yet, a night at Goodwin’s Organic Market, which is not only the first but the only all-organic facility in the entire state of California according to Health World Net, changed my mind. I attended an organic cooking class there where I tried and tasted vegan macaroni and cheese casserole, kale pomegranate slaw, and chia pineapple parfait. Don’t knock it until you try it! The class covered what we as a society consume, where it comes from, as well as some benefits of eating healthy and organic food. Not to mention, dinner was pretty good.
Hosted by the Necessary Nutrition Academy and Goodwin’s Organic Supermarket, the “All About Organics Tasting Tour” showed participants the importance of knowing what one consumes and how to create healthy meals without compromising taste. A group of 15 women, one man and I learned the difference between natural and organic foods, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), and the “Dirty Dozen” fruits and vegetables that are grown with the most pesticides such as apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce, and tied are kale and collard greens. Participants also learned how to tell what foods are actually certified organic, and which farmer’s markets they would be available for purchase in.
The first dish that May, the instructor, created was a vegan macaroni and cheese casserole. May created a cheese substitute by combining almond milk, tofu and nutritional yeast along with other ingredients. It was an interesting combination that tasted more like a tofu and broccoli casserole. However, the kale pomegranate slaw received higher marks. It was a tangy and tasty assemblage of cabbage, kale, onions and pomegranate complete with an organic honey mustard dressing. Finally, the Chia pineapple parfait, with its sorbet-like texture, was smooth and creamy. It was a sweet way to end the night, which was wrapped up with a tour around the market.
The class opened the audience’s eyes to the dangers that lurk in our food. In the U.S. roughly 90 percent of all the corn, soy, wheat, cotton are products of genetically modified organisms. This term means that scientists tamper with and actually alter the DNA structure of the food by inserting genes of different species into another organism so that a more flavorful, resistant, or stronger product grows. For example, scientists inject tomatoes with fish genes to create traits that are more resistant to cold and age. However, we do not yet know the consequences that modifying our food can produce, which means there may be unprecedented harmful effects, or none at all.
While the city of Riverside is making strides to be sustainable, UCR in particular has been taking initiatives in creating a “green” campus. New programs include the UCR Green Campus Action Plan (GCAP), which is a three part initiative by the undergraduate students of UC Riverside to help reduce the campus’ environmental impact and increase student empowerment, according to ASUCR. Additionally, the new UCR community garden opened Saturday, Dec. 1, which will promote sustainability efforts throughout campus.
It is comforting to know that places like Goodwin’s enhance the sustainability and healthy push that UCR initiates. By hosting events like organic cooking classes, Goodwin’s helps to ensure the Riverside community’s efforts to create a green and healthy environment are viable. Apparently others felt the same. Two Inland Empire locals, Sherri Moore and Nickie Bittle agreed, “what we learned tonight will definitely influence me when I go to the store. You gotta read the labels…” Nickie said, “I’d never tried this [ingredient] before, but now I know what these [ingredients] taste like, so I’m more willing to use it.”
Overall, the event hosted by Goodwin’s, which is merely walking distance from UCR’s campus, was reassuring even to a starving college student. The close proximity of organic food made the audience rethink the things that they choose to consume. The event inspired participants to be more adventurous with what they eat, especially with organic food.