Matthew Evans, The Gourmet Farmer, was once Australia’s “most feared restaurant critic.” What he savours most down under nowadays is the soil that grows the food on his family’s Fat Pig Farm. You might think a connoisseur of cuisine turned farmer would be a soil snob. But the Gourmet Farmer speaks with true wonder about soil, pondering the many ways it is the very source of life and food that sustains us. He treats the earth beneath our feet as an ongoing discovery, offering down-to-earth advice on getting to know where food comes from – finding the natural connection of what he calls “soil to stomach.”
A chef by trade, Matthew sees dinner in the paddock. He wants other people to have the same experience of knowing their food – from growing to eating it. But he also knows many people have trouble enough just tracking down dinner in the fridge, much less reading labels. Still, even he doesn’t feel the need to be perfect in the messy quest for the right food. For him, it starts with the sheer joy of using your senses to discover the flavour of real food that comes from good soil. And the sense to pass over the kind of fare that’s been bred to be bland. His advice: if you can’t smell the fragrance of a strawberry, don’t buy it! Whatever food you pick, pick as close to the original source as you can.
The Gourmet Farmer dug deep with Farming Secret’s Regen Ray in a chat Secrets of the Soil Podcast of two like-minded soil lovers plotting a world where topsoil is a top priority. They got down in the weeds of his book: Soil: The Incredible Story of What Keeps the Earth, and Us, Healthy
The soil story turns out to be a thriller – a complex “underground economy” that unfolds aboveground in myriad ways. As Matthew marvels: “everything…is a reminder of the magic that happens under our feet” – from where “the overwhelming majority of life begins and ends.” This author, chef, farmer, business owner, and TV personality plants himself firmly in the bounty of the soil. He wants us to see – from the ground up – the rich network of life beneath us forming the delicate topsoil we depend on for life above.
It seems the Gourmet Farmer’s ultimate recipe is healthy, resilient soil. He shares some farming secrets anyone should know about soil and where their food comes from:
- Soil can be self-healing if we allow it to.
- Plants are the farmers: every plant takes something from the soil and every plant gives something back to the soil.
- Weeds change and heal the structure of the soil
- Soil doesn’t care what we eat – but how we nourish it.