Local Food Advocate, Gardener & Cooking Teacher
A resident of the Wood River Valley since 2010, Manon Gaudreau has been a fixture in the local food scene since her first visit. An avid gardener and chef, the native Canadian teaches cooking classes focused on local, sustainable and seasonal food. In 2013, Manon helped found the School Food Action Group, a grassroots organization advocating for healthy scratch-cooked food in Blaine County schools. The search for better health led her to investigate many diets from macrobiotics to raw foods, and finally back to her “French Canadian meat, fish and vegetables” roots. Here’s what Manon said when asked about her personal relationship to food:
How did you become interested in food?
I always loved food and enjoyed learning about the culinary chemistry and the transformation of raw ingredients into tasty, nutritious and health sustaining food. I am fascinated by the traditional methods used before industrialization, and before domestic conveniences of refrigerators, and electric appliances.
What’s your definition of “good food”?
Fresh produce grown sustainably, or animals raised humanely and sustainably, without pesticides and GMOs, minimally transformed or processed, prepared or cooked by hand with love from scratch, without additives, using low temperatures to preserve the goodness, wisely preserved and eaten in season, and knowledgeably combined to optimize nutritious value, artfully presented to be appealing to all the senses, adapted to the needs of the person consuming it.
Who is your food hero?
My mom and dad, who fed a family of eight with appealing quality food that they cooked from scratch.
What is your biggest wish for food system change?
Sustainable agriculture, valued and well paid farmers and food workers, and enough skilled cooks (home cooks and professionals) to prepare everyone’s food from scratch. A certification for restaurants who cook “good food” from scratch.
What’s your favorite food to cook?
Stocks and broths of all kinds.
What’s your end goal or what impact do you hope to have in terms of food?
Increase awareness. Educate everyone in nutrition, cooking and gardening skills—they are lifelong. essential skills. Develop our local food shed and local farming so we locally produce as much food as is possible in a sustainable way.