I had the pleasure of hosting my good friend Nora Pouillon for a book signing of her memoir My Organic Life: How a Pioneering Chef Helped Shape the Way We Eat Today. She is the owner of Restaurant Nora, one of the best restaurants in the country. They have an unbelievable ethic for procuring, preparing and serving healthy nutritious food that is good for people and the planet. For nearly four decades, she has hosted presidents Clinton and Obama, their families, as well as many heads of state and celebrities. As a staunch supporter of the environmental movement Nora has also hosted many dinners for the boards of directors of environmental powerhouse organizations like League of Conservation Voters, Defenders of Wildlife and Environmental Working Group, all of which I’ve had the privilege of serving on. The last time I was at Nora’s she was hosting the enormously impressive Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who is truly changing the world. In 1999, her restaurant was the first in the nation to be certified organic. It was a labor of love and as a pioneer in the industry, she helped change and grow the culture of organic food. Originally from Vienna, Nora and her family fled to a farm in the Alps at the end of World War II. Growing up on a farm, she experienced eating delicious farm fresh produce and meats never touched by artificial pesticides and hormones. Upon moving to the United States in the 1960s she was shocked by the closed supermarket culture. Thus began her 40 year journey as a hero of the organic revolution. Her life’s journey is detailed in her memoir, My Organic Life, available for purchase online.
Carolyn O’Neill, author and food guru, also joined us! She is a registered dietitian, award-winning author and journalist who reported on food and travel at CNN for nearly 20 years. Carolyn is also the famed “Lady of the Refrigerator” on Alton Brown’s hit Food Network program Good Eats. Carolyn has written a cookbook, Slim Down South, and is also the coauthor of The Dish: On Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!
In Georgia, we are lucky to have a growing number of nonprofits and programs that address the same barriers Nora experienced. A few examples are The Foodwell Alliance, the Food Oasis programs of Atlanta Community Food Bank, Georgia Organics and Project Openhand. But there are many, many others working hard to improve access to what was once only available for the small percentage who could afford it. Sara Berney from Wholesome Wave Georgia(WWG) was the chosen beneficiary of the evening with Nora. WWG doubles each federal nutrition assistance benefit dollar spent, leveraging existing government food nutrition programs to encourage shopping at local farmers markets. Every nutrition benefit dollar spent at a WWG partner market becomes two dollars for the shopper and for the farmer. This means more money for farmers and that more Georgians gain access to good, wholesome and locally-grown food!
Besides her memoir My Organic Life, Nora has also published a delicious compilation of recipes from her restaurant, Cooking with Nora: Seasonal Menus from Restaurant Nora – Healthy, Light, Balanced, and Simple Food with Organic Ingredients.
It was a great evening with old friends and new alike.