New York City
- Guastavino's, in the shadow of the 59th Street Bridge, the usual hangout for investment bankers and their clients saw a switch in their menu - and their crowd - with the Second Annual Farm to Family Luncheon and Educational Panel discussion sponsored by the Northeastern Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) and headed up by the dynamic Christie Brinkley
a long-time supporter of local organic farming.
Christie Brinkley, a long-time supporter of local organic farming, made a
The whole event was as local as one could get short of dining at home on the East End. Guests entered Guastavino's by walking through trees and bushes donated by Marder's Nursery as well as trees from Board member Rex
and Connie Farr's
organic Farm in Riverhead. Robin Bell
mixed and matched antique farm equipment and Torrance York
Stunning - as always - in a simple red dress and an armful of bangles, Christie led the salute to "people who make a difference in the way we eat" and made the case for "a sustainable food system that is both environmentally safe and economically viable". A long-time advocate for East End organic farmers at 55, Christie is a walking billboard for the positive effects of such healthy eating as are her children Jack
In her brief remarks, Christie thanked the afternoon's honorees Bart Potenza
and Joy Pierson
, owners of Candle 79 Restaurant and Candle Café which are dedicated to bettering the health of the world and the planet by only serving food fresh from farm to table; Deirdre Imus
, Founder and President of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology at Hackensack University Medical Center and Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer and the author of the New York Times
bestselling Green This! Series and Elizabeth Henderson
, a member of the Board of Directors of NOFA-NY, who represents NOFA in state and national policy issues. Her farm, Peacework Organic Farm, supplies vegetables to the 300-member Genesee Valley CSA. Elizabeth is the lead author of "Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen's Guide to Community Supported Agriculture."
Hadley Nagel, Christine Schott and Lauren Bush enjoyed the luncheon.
Benefit Chair Brinkley showered praise on her Sag Harbor neighbor and long-time associate in the movement for healthy eating Brian Halweil
, who is a Senior Researcher with Worldwatch Institute where he writes on the social and ecological impacts of how we grow food. Brian is best known to Hamptonites as the editor of Edible East End
and publisher of Edible Brooklyn
. Brian moderated the informative and often humorous panel discussion with the honorees.
Also receiving kudos was Luncheon Chair Margo Langenberg
who rounded up an influential group of vice-chairs, New York and the East End's most influential tastemakers including Victoria
and Minot Amory
, Angela Susan Anton
, Carol Higgins Clark
, Hilary Cushing Block
and Rex Farr
and John Farr
, Cornelia Guest
, (who has taken up organic farming), Nancy
and David Hathaway
, Tara Higgins
and Jay McInerney
, Peter Melhado
, Lake Bell
, Lauren Bush
, Amanda Hearst
, Kick Kennedy
, Keisha Nash Whitaker
, Lauren Remington Platt
and Laddy Merck
, Fernanda Niven
, Liz Rosen
, Jean Shafiroff
and Lavina Snyder
and John Sullivan
and Barbara Tober
Carol Higgins Clark was among the attendees.
Among the 275 guests were Anne Eisenhower
, Hadley Nagel
. Patti D'Arbanville,
, Jose Pepe Fanjul
, Karen Kisselstein-Cord
, Stephanie Krieger
, Jamie Figg
, Catherine Cahill
, Sharon Handler
, Thor Thors
, Chris Collin
, Laura Blair
, Valerie Jennings
, Mario Buatta
and Scott Chaskey
, farmer/poet emeritus of Amagansett's Quail Hill Farms, one of the oldest CSA farms in New York State.
Restaurateur Bart Potenza told the crowd, "Ten years ago, you couldn't find a restaurant that served organic, locally raised fare. My wife (Joy Pierson) and I wanted a place where we could eat what we wanted, so we opened the Candle 79." Now that restaurant and its spin-off sibling Candle Café are at the forefront of the locavore movement and have helped to raise the eco-consciousness of New Yorkers tremendously.
The lively conversation included numerous comments from the guests about how food has never been more pertinent in the national consciousness as it is today - citing the new White House garden and Michelle Obama's
rallying around what kids eat, and how school districts involved in the farm-to-cafeteria movement is soaring; as well as how everyone is spending more time and energy on their food - and more of us are using food as a way to change the world around us.
Scott Chaskey with honoree Elizabeth Henderson.
Each of the honorees made clear in their remarks why everyone plays a role in creating a healthier food chain, whether farmers, chefs, restaurant owners, butchers, food makers or plain old eaters. Or in the case of Deidre Imus, who sees the food community as an important voice to catalyze change in the hospital and healthcare world. Deirdre, know in some circles as Mrs. Don Imus
wife of the radio talk king was very simple in how even one person can make a difference and cited an old African proverb "If you think you're too small to make an impact, try sitting in a room with a mosquito." The well traveled audience responded with knowing laughs. Point made.
Lunch prepared by the chefs of Candle 79, Candle Café and Guastavino's turned out a splendid meal of all organic ingredients and donated by farms, coffee, tea growers and vineyards, featuring a first course of Roasted Beet Tartare with Almond Cheese, Sprouted Wheat Flour Crouton and Mustard Greens, prepared by Chefs Angel Ramos
and Jorge Pineda
, Candle 79; a main course of Root Vegetable Risotto with Braised Jerusalem Artichokes and Mushrooms with Crispy Parsnips and Fresh Pea Shoots prepared by Chef John Stevenson
, Guastavino's and a scrumptious dessert of Sprouted Wheat Flour Shortcake served with Seasonal Fruit Preserves with Chantilly Cream. There was plenty of delicious organic wine from Heller's Organic Vineyards to wash it all down. And for the teetotalers a selection of non-alcoholic beverages such as Twelve Beverage, Biatta Juices, Honest Tea and Jim's Organic Coffee.
Brinkley and the NOFA organizers were thrilled that the guests, normally used to dining on haute cuisine delicacies, not only loved the meal but took to heart NOFA's message "That farmers and consumers should work in harmony with natural forces and leave the little piece of the world over which they have stewardship in better condition than when they found it".
Cornelia Guest is all smiles for NOFA.
Brinkley and Luncheon chair Margo Langenberg were doubly pleased that every element of the affair had been underwritten or donated from a broad spectrum of Long Island and upstate sources including Gorzynski Ornery Farm; Guy Jones, Blooming Hill Farm; Alice Fitzgerald, River Brook Farm; Dick de Graff, Grindstone Farm; Organic Valley Family of Farms; Gardenia Organic; Candle 79 and Candle Café; Heller Estate Organic Vineyards; Twelve Noon To Midnight from Twelve Beverage; Tierra Farm; Honest Tea; Biotta Juices; The Laundress; Jim's Organic Coffee; Dragonfly Organix; Delicious Flavors; Edible Manhattan Magazine and Suki - Advanced Organic Science
For good measure, J. Pepe Fanjul
- of the famed sugar plantation Fanjuls - helped fill the goodie bags with pounds of Florida Crystals organic sugar and organic brown rice. Surely one of the heaviest gift bags in town and just crammed with organic goodies to go to immediate use in the best kitchens!
NOFA-NY is committed to bringing education and information on economically sustainable agriculture to the public. It supports local farmers, gardeners, and consumers who contribute to a healthier way of living by providing universal access to a fresh, regional food supply. It has broadened its mission
beyond promoting organic, to promoting healthy local food systems, particularly relevant in the face of large-scale food recalls, climate change, and loss of local food traditions. To learn more visit www.NOFANY.org.