Health & Wellness

Nutritionally Speaking: A ‘Terroir Manifesto‘


Do you know where your food comes from? Have you met any of the farmers who work tirelessly in the heat so that you will have veggies and fruit on your table? Met any of the folks who baked the bread for the sandwich or toast you may be enjoying as you read this? 

I met Gary Nabhan at a nutrition conference a few years ago, was moved by what he shared, and he asked me to share his Terroir Manifesto with my readers, so here it is again. Gary Nabhan Ph.D, nature writer, seed saver, conservation biologist and sustainable agriculture activist who Mother Earth News has dubbed, “the father of the local food movement,” has offered us his invitation: “Know where your food comes from …”

His prose below is a great reminder for us all about where our “nutrient-dense” foods come from. The French word terroir is translated as knowing where your food, ingredients comes from and is beautifully described in Dr. Nablan’s words below:

Terroir Manifesto

Know where your food has come from

through knowing those who produced it for you,

from farmer to forager, rancher or fisher

to earthworms building a deeper, richer soil,

to the heirloom vegetable, the nitrogen-fixing legume,

the pollinator, the heritage breed of livestock,

& the sourdough culture rising in your flour.

Know where your food has come from

by the very way it tastes:

its freshness telling you

how far it may have traveled,

the hint of mint in the cheese

suggesting what the goat has eaten,

the terroir of the wine

reminding you of the lime

in the stone you stand upon,

so that you can stand up for the land

that has offered it to you.

Know where your food has come from

by ascertaining the health & wealth

of those who picked & processed it,

by the fertility of the soil that is left

in the patch where it once grew,

by the traces of pesticides

found in the birds & the bees there.

Know whether the bays & shoals

where your shrimp & fish once swam

were left richer or poorer than before

you & your kin ate from them.

Know where your food comes from

by the richness of stories told around the table

recalling all that was harvested nearby

during the years that came before you,

when your predecessors & ancestors,

roamed the same woods & neighborhoods

where you & yours now roam.

Know them by the songs sung to praise them,

by the handmade tools kept to harvest them,

by the rites & feasts held to celebrate them,

by the laughter let loose to show them our affection.

Know where your foods come from

by the patience displayed while putting them up,

while peeling, skinning, coring or gutting them,

while pit-roasting, poaching or fermenting them,

while canning, salting or smoking them,

while arranging them on a plate for our eyes to behold.

Know where your food comes from

by the slow savoring of each and every morsel,

by letting their fragrances lodge in your memory

reminding you of just exactly where you were the very day

that you became blessed by each of their distinctive flavors.

When you know where your food comes from

you can give something back to those lands & waters,

that rural culture, that migrant harvester,

curer, smoker, poacher, roaster or vinyer.

You can give something back to that soil,

something fecund & fleeting like compost

or something lasting & legal like protection.

We, as humans, have not been given

roots as obvious as those of plants.

The surest way we have to lodge ourselves

within this blessed earth is by knowing

where our food comes from.

I hope you are all inspired by this to get to know … and thank your farmers, bakers, vintners and all the rest of the people who toil to bring you what you eat and drink! Knowing methods that offer healthier choices, healthier farmers, and healthier consumers! Salud!

Contact Yaakov Levine, a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner at [email protected]



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