Organic Fresno: Not an Oxymoron.


I was in Fresno on Friday with my mom.  She wanted to do breakfast while I was in the area doing some shopping for groceries. We typically end up at a mexican food restaurant that leaves  me feeling super gross and greasy. I suggested we try a restaurant that I had heard about called “Organic Fresno”.  To anyone that has been to Fresno or lives in Fresno for that matter, the name of their restaurant may cause some confusion.

Fresno has always been considered a huge contributor to the “Nation’s Food Basket”  because Fresno County supplies the entire nation with much of its fresh produce.  Fresno provides most of the Nation’s almonds, grapes and raisins…something like 90% I believe. There are fruit stands on every corner in the spring and summer, and one would think we would think this area would be a lot healthier for it.

Unfortunately, much of our produce is shipped out to other areas, leaving us with imported fruits and veggies (unless we buy directly from the farmer) and only a tiny percentage of it is organic.  In the area that I live in, I have access to wonderful “honor stands” stacked with fresh produce from my neighbor’s back yards, but that isn’t the case for most people in the county.

The idea of finding a restaurant that provided healthy, organic meals made with ingredients from the exact sources I buy MY food from seemed to good to be true. I had to find out for myself.

Mom and I (and my three kiddos) headed out to Organic Fresno at around 9am.  Organic Fresno set up shop in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Fresno known as “Motel Drive”. Basically, it is hooker and druggie central. It is also a prime location for folks traveling through to or from SF or LA which works in their favor.  As I pondered their location, I realized that turning a neighborhood around starts with one business.  As soon as we walked in, we both said, “It smells amazing in here!”  We were greated by a super friendly man who offered us some water which was served cold in re-purposed wine bottles. He then offered us water kefir, which really excited me. I drink raw dairy kefir almost daily but had never tried water kefir. It is pretty delicioius! My mom ordered their signature drink, “Flo” which is a fermented drink made from water kefir, jamaica (hibiscus tea) and ginger. It was remarkable.

It tastes better than it looks...promise.

It tastes better than it looks…promise.

Two of the kids ordered gluten free fruit waffles, and one ordered “Comforting Eggs” which is gluten free crepes filled with eggs, cheese and sprinkled with parsley. Mom ordered crepes filled with seasonal veggies and beans. I deliberately didnt order anything because I knew my kids would never finish everything and we were going to be out all day…leaving us incapable of toting around a doggy bag. I was, however, tempted to try their signature dish, “Pasta Puttanesca” which basically translates to Pasta for the Prostitutes. It may or may not be an homage to the activity around their establishment but is definitely an opportunity to connect food with history. Pasta a la Puttanesca was developed in Italy for the prostitues who could only shop periodically and definitely not during the daytime when wives of patrons may have seen them out. Pasta dishes were then made out of cured items like olives and capers (because they would keep as long as it took them to get to market) and Pasta a la Puttanesca was born.  I kind of enjoyed the reference on their menu.

The verdict? The crepes are amazing. The eggs were obviously fresh and vibrant in color. The waffles were good, but the texture was a little funny for my kids’ liking. That said,  kids can be a tough sell..especially mine. I thought they were delicious, as did Mama.  We ended up ordering a smoothie for my oldest and he was much happier with that.  All the veggies were flavorful and delicious.At one point, I saw that they painted the names of all the farmers they support on the wall over their kitchen. I had to laugh because so many of the farmers they mentioned supply my kitchen as well. There was a certain sense of community that came from the idea that we all share in supporting the same farms, farmers, and perhaps more importantly, the same ideal that you really can know exactly where (and who!) your food comes from.

It was like being in my own kitchen without having to do the work...or the dishes.

It was like being in my own kitchen without having to do the work…or the dishes.

Eating at Organic Fresno made me feel as though I was a part of something. It proved to me that Fresno County really does have a Local Food Movement beyond a few farmer’s markets and a small percentage of concerned consumers.

It gave me hope for this county I grew up in.

It gave me such hope for our organic farmers, the continued success of  our raw dairy and our CSA box distributor andfor  a little restaurant situated in one of the most troubled parts of Fresno.

It gave me hope for myself and my family…we may have a village afterall.

I left the restaurant sastified and somehow gratified. I also left with a baggie of water kefir grains that they gave to me for free. Overall, I left with the peace of mind and a smile on my face.

If you are ever in the Fresno area, stop by Organic Fresno. Tell em’ this girl and her  happy organic cake sent ya. 😉


4 responses »

  1. Excellent article! As the cold weather approaches here on the east coast, I’m really going to miss going to the farmers markets and roadside stands every week 😦

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