1 shared location.
1 synergistic goal.
2 different approaches.
Okay, so how does it all work together?
The entire second floor of 236 Cannon Street consists of the Eastern Shore Food Lab, our 501(c)(3) non-profit that houses all of our research, outreach and education and is fully funded on philanthropy. That means research into our ancestral dietary past through the archaeological record, working with cultures around the world documenting and understanding their traditional foodways, and experimentation with food to fuse the ancestral and traditional dietary approaches into our modern food system falls under that this umbrella. So does spreading information about nourishing, ethical and sustainable food through podcasts, writing (just like this blog post), speaking; and teaching online, live virtual, prerecorded, and in-person classes in our teaching kitchen.
Our mission at the Eastern Shore Food Lab is simple: To preserve, revive and infuse ancestral dietary approaches in food to create a nourishing, ethical, accessible and sustainable food system.
And we approach this mission through three powerful action words:
Downstairs = food production
Downstairs, the Modern Stone Age Kitchen is where we put everything we learn and teach into practice by creating truly nourishing food. It is here that we transform familiar foods such as bread, pizza, cheese, tacos, soups, sandwiches and even cookies into their healthiest versions by using ancestral and traditional approaches to maximize the safety, nutritional value, and flavor of everything we produce. All of our food is made 100% from scratch in-house. We ferment all of our grains using a wild, long fermented sourdough process; nixtamalize our maize; soak all nuts, seeds and legumes; butcher and cook using a nose-to-tail approach; make our own fermented dairy products including cheese, yogurt, and fermented butter, and rely upon solely on unrefined sweeteners and animal based fats for cooking to optimize the safety and nutritional value of our foods. Stop in and taste the difference of true scratch cooking.
Coming full circle at this weekend’s 4-day Intensive
The Modern Stone Age Kitchen supplies the food for the participants in classes and workshops. And, nourishing, educating and empowering others inspires us to continue to do research, expand our global network and start it all over again through the Eastern Shore Food Lab. In fact, as I write this I am waiting for a group of students from 10 different states to arrive to participate in our latest 4-day intensive workshop. This workshop illustrates the interconnectedness of what we do here.
These students and I will start the workshop off this evening getting to know one another while gathered around our fresh-from-the-oven wood fired pizzas. Over the course of four days, they will learn how to ferment vegetables, ferment dairy into fermented cream, fermented butter, yogurt, kefir, cream cheese, and a variety of pasta filata cheeses, whole animal butcher and cook using a complete nose to tail approach, start and maintain a sourdough mother and use that mother to transform a variety of baked goods into their most nourishing and delicious forms to make foods such as sourdough waffles and sourdough bread.
Information from archaeological research and stories from our ethnographic research with indigenous and traditional groups around the world will provide the cultural context and human element that elevates what they are learning far above simply following instructions from a recipe. And, it helps make the world a little smaller, which is always a good thing!
Since the Modern Stone Age Kitchen will keep everyone well fed with the same nourishing food the students are learning to make all lessons will come full circle. This type of hands-on, project based, teaching and learning is powerful.
Articulating the Vision
And for those of you who like a visual, we attempted to capture the essence of our 3 initiatives in this graphic so you can see the alignment as well as the distinctions.
A reflective look back
The first three years were focused on creating a research and educational center through Washington College. Then COVID hit. Brianna started RISE and we spent the next three years expanding our home cottage business into the Modern Stone Age Kitchen, moving into 236 Cannon, and building our incredible team. We are now continuing to grow the MSAK, fine tune our processes, and develop additional offerings.
Our team led by Zach Larrimore is largely responsible for much of the day-to-day food production, freeing Christina and I to turn some of our attention toward developing the ESFL so that it can reach its full potential.
Currently, we are creating and offering new classes, launching our own podcast, planning educational travel opportunities, and reinvigorating our research program – the backbone of everything we do in both facilities.
Speaking from the heart
The biggest takeaway here is that while guided by a shared passion to nourish others everything grew organically.
We never intended to own a restaurant, food production facility or even a non-profit.
When we moved down to the Eastern Shore of Maryland from New Jersey in 2008 with a 10 month old, 2 year old, and 4 year old, we did so thinking I would retire from Washington College some day. But, I suppose our dreams and aspirations were too big to fit inside of someone else’s model and we were too impatient. We strive to initiate meaningful change as quickly as possible.
We are incredibly fulfilled by what we have created and thankful to have the opportunity to share our passion with the world. And, I get to work every day with my favorite person in the world.