I’ve been stewing about what I should write about for the first post after launching our new website. Tempeh recipes, Amazake recipes, Rhapsody Restaurant recipes of the past, who are we, what do we do, how do we do it, have all been topics I’ve considered. For inspiration I was browsing through our photo albums when I came upon a realization. All our products are quite complex and involve a few days of time and attention. So I started to think about that. Why do we make the products that we offer. They are not the easiest to make and don’t have high profit margins that juices, dressings or other prepared foods might have. So the question I posed to myself (and others here at Rhapsody) was why Tempeh? Why Amazake? Why Eggrolls? Why are we developing miso, rice milk and other products? And the following is what I discovered.
The food business has become such a commercialized, money based, HUGE, impersonal beast. Going shopping for food has become a challenge (although it is still one of my favorite activities). Do I buy organic? Do I buy local? How expensive does that get? What if there are items that I want that I can’t get at our local co-op ? Do I order them? Live without them? Make them myself? Life is very much based around the energy that we consume to fuel our bodies and maintain our health. The amount of energy that is put into our foods is what we get out of it.
Energy in=Energy out
A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is yummy and quick, but how much does it actually nourish us? Not as much as a lovingly made meal of quinoa salad, sauteed collards, rich tempeh, steamed squash, roasted sunflower seeds, and wakame salad. The sandwich takes two minutes, and the meal 2 hours. As much as I would love to be able to spend hours every day cooking (many days I do), some days I just don’t have the time. And on those days I’m grateful for the sauerkraut from Blackwell Roots Farm, fresh sourdough bread from Bohemian Bread , napa cabbage from Pete’s Greens, and our own Rhapsody Tempeh for a nice and quick hearty sandwich. I know and trust these businesses to make the food the way I would if I were doing it myself. Why do I trust them? Because I live close enough that I can check them out. They are small enough that I can call, get a person on the phone within a minute and have a simple question answered. We make tempeh, amazake, and eggrolls because we want to eat them ourselves and don’t want to bring them in from far away, or have the quality compromised through large scale production practices. When we make our food, we put a lot of human energy into them, therefore we know that we, and our customers will get a whole lot out of them.
Let’s look at the tempeh making process as an example.
We (Marcus) soak the beans in buckets, rinsing them by hand the evening before. We cook the beans in small batches and stir the spores in by hand. We (Marcus and Julie) fill each bag with a scoop and then weigh it to make sure the weight is accurate. The bags get sealed by hand and put on perforated trays, the trays go on racks and the racks go into the incubator where it all gets to hang out for 24 hours. The next day we (Madelief or Marcus) move them back out to pasteurize them. Putting each 8oz or 2 lb bag of tempeh into a boilable bag by hand, sealing 2 or 6 (depending on the size) at a time in the sealer and then lowering them into the kettle we like to call Large Marge. Large Marge heats them to increase the shelf life from 2 days (unpasteurized) to 4 months (pasteurized) and then we scoop them out with large heat resistant gloves and label them all, again by hand. They are boxed and put in the walk in, ready to be shipping out. Each package of tempeh that you buy is handled and given energy during several different stages before it gets to you. Even deliveries in VT are done by us (Elysha). No part of this process couldn’t be replicated at home.
So, why do we do what we do? Because it is creating food that we want to eat. Slow food. Strong food. Nourishing food. We are building relationships in our community to support the farmers who feed us. We work together as a family (real and extended) to feed others. We want all the food that is available in stores to be vital, rich, energetic food.
We are starting small, in our own backyard (literally), working on creating the world that we want to live in. We are, quite simply, being the change that we want to see in the world.