Pomegranate Basket‘Tis the season to be generously practical, yet body— and soul—satisfying. Here are my strategies for meaningful gift giving. I hope you’ll find them helpful. May your holidays be merry, bright, and delicious.

  • Give perfect seasonal produce. A box of carefully chosen mandarins, new harvest nuts, wild rice…whatever your regional specialties are. Give a taste of the best.

  • Give cooking tools no kitchen should be without. For instance: a digital kitchen scalecanning supplies for next summer’s harvest, or an inexpensive Japanese mandolin that instantly makes beautiful shaved salads and paper-thin roasted vegetables.
  • Give cooking classes. Thank heavens we’ve come to our senses and are heading back into the kitchen. Give a certificate for a basics, baking, or even butchery class. Two new schools opened recently in SoCal: Venice Cooking School, founded by veteran cookbook authors Martha Rose Shulman and Clifford Wright, and Simple Gourmet, Melanie Barsuk and Taji Marie, proprietors.

Farmers Market Tour

  • Give a farmers’ market tour. Starting in March, I will be offering seasonal walking tours of the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. Please see my tour page for more information.
  • Give a membership to a local CSA. Support your local farmers and give a season’s or year’s subscription to healthy eating. Plus, it’s a very effective way to get more folks on the seasonal bandwagon). Two California farms with strong Community Supported Agriculture programs: McGrath Family Farms and Rutiz Family Farms.
  • Give back to your farmers’ market. Sign up to volunteer at your market for the coming year. Sure, you spend your food dollars there, but farmers’ markets need reliable help to run smoothly. L.A. Westsiders: the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market needs dependable volunteers. Contact: darra.adler@smgov.net.

The New American Olive Oil

  • Give food literacy. Make a donation to edible education programs in your community so that the next generation will know how food is grown. And make a new year’s resolution to get your hands dirty helping out in the garden.
  • Feed families in need. Purchase “food baskets” in your friends’ names to organizations that aid families in need. Your financial support funds purchase of foods that will feed a family for a week. Then, donate your time to pack and hand out the baskets. Since the days when my children were quite young, our family has been helping One Voice do just that.
  • Give a gift that grows. Trees, that is, to heal the planet. Dedicate them to your friends, and make a date to help a local urban renewal group, such as Tree People, re-green your community.