Patti the "big dill" Pickle here, sharing tidbits of what you can look forward to at this year's Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival. Recently, I had the opportunity to get REAL with Monica Ford of Real Food Devotee. Her company's philosophy is to bring us stress free, radiant health through nutrient dense food. A person chef and real food devotee herself, the company specializes in bringing joy and natural goodness back to your table!
Raised in a family whose love of food infused every meal, Monica brings this same love and appreciation into your home.
Patti the Pickle: What is “Real Food”?
MF: In common vernacular, "Real Food" refers to food that has been nurtured from seed to plate without the use of synthetic chemicals or processing to the point of toxicity. For me personally, the term "Real Food" not only encompasses natural growing and preparation with a goal of celebrating natures inherent perfection but it also means that food is grown sustainably and responsibly for earth, plant, animal, and human.
When someone becomes a member of Real Food Devotee, they are joining us in support of local growers who apply sustainable land stewardship, fair employment, and farm food with integrity. Together we’re casting an ever more powerful vote for the vibrant health of our loved ones and the planet we share. At Real Food Devotee, we use traditional techniques to make our signature nutrient-rich, ancestral cuisine. We do it out of love and a strong desire to create the change we want to see in ourselves and the world.
Patti the Pickle: How did you become so passionate about Real Food?
MF: When I came to understand the expansive impact of Real Food, it was impossible to deny the wave of passion that knowledge brought with it. When I began to make and eat Real Food, as well as sharing it with friends and family, ,I stepped onto an undeniable path that would change the course of my life’s journey.
Real Food woke me up and changed my health. I lost all of my food allergies (I’d not been able to consume dairy for 20 YEARS!), all my seasonal allergies, and I have not been bothered with even a cold in the better part of a decade. That is inspiring to me. But, it is was when I saw my loved ones healing that true motivation was set aflame in my heart and Real Food Devotee was born.
Patti the Pickle: I love this quote from your website realfooddevotee.com - "Everything I know came from someone else; my Mom and her Mother, my Father's Mother. Sharing is how we grow. Get real. Be well." Can you expound on this for us?
MF: That’s really sweet. I'm glad you like that. Well, I'm not a classically trained chef. I grew up in a family restaurant (or two) and I come from a big family who does everything and I do mean EVERYTHING around food. It’s how we plan our days…from the think tank of the kitchen.
There are some seriously talented cooks in my family. I feel so grateful for that. My mother and my two grandmothers always cooked from scratch. At the time it seemed normal but now, I realize what a gift that was. These women - from very different backgrounds - understood taste and never so much as used premixed spices that I can recall. My maternal grandmother from China Spring, Texas - master of every meaty main dish and...oh...her gravy reduced from pan drippings and broth. My paternal Grandmother from Alexandria, Egypt, master of pickles, lebne and exotic cured meats hanging from the kitchen ceiling.
Don’t casually walk through the kitchen in the dark, y’all! My father who sourced ingredients for our deli to build sandwiches that could transport you to a better world. And my mama whose cooking encompassed both cultural influences with a splash of her own generation and personality. The taste of every meal she graced our family table with made my friends drool with jealousy. They were such perfect teachers that I never even knew I could cook until I set off on my own and there it was, all their stories told to me in dinners, lunches and snacks.
Patti the Pickle: How have you forged close relationships with local farmers? What are some of your favorite purveyors and favorite real food products?
MF: The Farmers make it easy. I simply began going to farmers markets and asking questions. They were so happy to teach. Now, our farmer friends are happy to save choice morsels for us. Thank you to all you farmers who are so generous with your knowledge and time.
At Real Food Devotee, we take regular field trips to visit the farms we source from. One of our core principles is for our staff to have a clear and practical understanding of how Real Food is grown, how that differs from other growing practices, and the importance and impact of those differences. There are too many favorites to list but a few of our favorites are Dey Dey's Best Beef Ever and Rainbow Ranch.
Patti the Pickle: Please explain your real food delivery service and the benefits you've seen in your community.
MF: There are so many wonderful things about modernity! But with the plusses come a few minuses. Modern life is not conducive to making all of our own traditional, nutrient dense, properly sourced foods at home. Also, there seems to be a bit of stress and guilt associated with the idea that we might not be able to do EVERYTHING. Breaking News: Wonder Woman is a cartoon.
Our modern schedules require some conveniences. A day filled with stress is just as bad for us as a bag of ding dongs. At Real Food Devotee, we make traditional, nutrient dense foods sourced from the best ingredients. We send out a weekly menu to our members. They order to their hearts’ desire and the following week, we deliver this food right to their door-step! Easy! If you would like to receive free weekly menus, just shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The benefits are the reason we do what we do - from members calling to tell us how our food has improved their quality of life to health care practitioners trusting us enough to send a new member our way for healing. These are the moments that inspire us to develop new recipes, to make our food more convenient, to become greener as a company, to visit more farms, and to learn more.
Patti the Pickle: How can communities grow the demand of real food?
MF: The demand is out there in force! We can grow the demand for Real Food by something so simple - Sharing! That’s what it’s all about. Share a healing Real Food success story with a friend, enjoy a fun day at the Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, attend a Real Food Devotee cooking class, start a Real Food business, or simply, serve real food to someone! It is that tasty moment of truth when our bodies recognize Real Food that we realize we need more. It is a primal and innate knowledge that, once awakened, is part of us forever.
Patti the Pickle: What do you consider your biggest success?
MF: What matters most to me is healing. I see it everyday and I am humbled, motivated and made happy by it. I'm certain the biggest success is yet to come and the journey is the part I’m savoring.
Patti the Pickle: Please explain more about your classes and how to setup a real food business.
MF: We regularly teach all sorts of magical lost arts like how to make beautiful fermented sodas, how to make cultured veggies, how to make yogurt, how to make bone broth, and gluten free foods that are still nutrient and flavor dense. The list goes on and on. The classes we offer are always fun and full of snacking! You can find many of my recipes at holistic squid.com
As for starting a Real Food business, I set up one-on-one consultations and mentoring and will publish my Real Food Devotee Guide in the future. I love to consult and guide someone’s inspiration for a Real Food business into reality. It is incredibly rewarding. I love to see beaming pride on the faces of people putting a little more good into our world. It’s a great thing for the creator, the mentor, the consumer and regulatory agencies. As Real Food businesses become more common so will the availability of Real Food. This is at the heart of Real Food Devotee’s vision for the success of the Real Food movement!
Patti the Pickle: We are excited for your attendance at this year's festival. What can we look forward to?
Thank you! I’m excited too. I love the Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival. It’s a wonderful time to catch up with foodie friends and is just packed with interesting people. This year, instead of doing my usual demo “How to make X Traditional Food” I’ll be on hand to answer questions for new Real Food entrepreneurs. I was once in their shoes and to speak to someone with experience is such a boon! I cannot wait to find out what you Real Food Foodies are dreaming up! Please also connect with me on FaceBook and Instagram . We want to know what you’re doing!
For tickets to this year's 4th Annual Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, CLICK HERE!