Eugenia Bone stirs up a talk on the Kitchen Ecosystem tonight

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Audrey Hall
Food writer Eugenia Bone will be at the Denver Botanic Gardens tonight, discussing "The Kitchen Ecosystem" as part of the Bonfils-Stanton Lecture Series. We recently caught up with Bone and asked her what it means to call your kitchen an "ecosystem."

Westword: Tell us about the title of your talk, "The Kitchen Ecosystem."

Eugenia Bone: Let's start with ecology. "Eco" from the Greek means "house" or "living relations," and "ology" means "study of." An ecosystem consists of organisms in a particular area, including non-living organisms. So in a natural ecosystem, there is no waste. And there are different kinds of ecosystems -- aquatic and terrestrial -- and there are also artificial, which are what humans make. So the kitchen ecosystem is an idea that you can apply to your kitchen that will help you understand why the food you make tastes the way it does, and with that understanding, you can improve the way your food tastes. Because the kitchen ecosystem is an artificial ecosystem where the kitchen is the environment and the organisms are the food, and it's all linked by the nutrient flow that comes to us. And efficiency is accomplished in this kitchen ecosystem idea by using all the secondary products -- stems from asparagus and bones from chicken. It's the same model that farmers and our great-grandparents used, but using this kitchen ecosystem metaphor allows the city and suburban modern liver to analyze why their food tastes the way it does, and to change it. And it also reflects not only your palate but also your politics and what you want to spend your money on, your purse.

The way this ecosystem idea looks is, if you look at your kitchen like an ecosystem, what makes for a complicated, advanced or otherwise -- in this case, very tasty -- ecosystem? And that has got two components. The secret to tasty food is eating fresh, seasonal, local, etc., which also has all these other benefits, and eating food that is homemade. So that component, the homemade component, means preserving stuff that's seasonal and replacing the store-bought products in your fridge over time with homemade stuff. So if you bought your tomatoes locally at your farmer's market, and then you canned some of it, you are supporting your farmer all year round, and everything you make with that food is going to taste better. You're making your system more complicated, you're putting your stamp on it more. Likewise, from those tomatoes you can also make ketchup. So you are again adding to the quality of what you cook. But taste is ultimately what happens, but there's also these residual fine effects. It's efficient, because you've got foods that are canned, you've kept your dollars local through the winter and away from multinational irresponsible corporate food conglomerates -- always a good thing. You have lowered your carbon footprints, the food you're putting in your children's bellies is more nutritional. And it's a time-saver, because if you're preparing the components of a meal, by the time you get to cooking your dinner, you've had the stuff done three months before. You cannot be making everything fresh every time you cook it up. You have to start to can or freeze stock every time you buy a chicken, just put the stock on overnight. In the morning you have the stock, next time you need it you have it, or you could use the stock as a base for a complete meal, so that you use that chicken several times.

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