On August 8th of this year, Northern California Kaiser Permanente's 19 hospitals began sourcing some of the fresh fruits and vegetables on the 6,000 meal trays a day prepared for the inpatients from small, organic family farmers. Since then, about 40 tons of produce has come from these farmers who earn their livelihoods from 50 acres or less.
The news of our local sourcing program spread. Starting in January, the Stanford University Food Service will join us in working with the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, the critical link between Kaiser Permanente and the farmers.
Jim Churchill's organic satsuma tangerines and other magical citrus from his farm in Ventura will come to our hospitals and also to the 15,000 students at Stanford. It has been said that his fruits have healing powers. We are hoping that this program can continue to expand.
For the first recipe of the New Year, I chose a basic Italian chicken stew. I cooked it in a tagine (a really cool Moroccan ceramic flat-bottom pan with a tent-like lid) but a heavy covered Dutch oven or other large covered sauté pan would work just fine.
From your local farmers' market, pick up a pound of white, red, or yellow potatoes and some parsley. You will need to visit the grocery store for the rest of the ingredients. It will be months before fresh tomatoes are grown locally so I resort to the canned variety rather than passing on tomatoes for the whole winter.