The Paris Boulangerie

The morning rhythm of heels against the cobblestone sidewalks woke me on our first morning in Paris. I tried to go back to sleep, we had checked into our apartment only six hours earlier, but my empty stomach was impatient. Croissants, pain au chocolat, baguettes, I craved all of it.  When Michael finally stirred I asked him, “You want to find a boulangerie with me?” I had already done the research and found we were surrounded by bakeries in the Le Marais, a Paris arrondissements that spread over parts of the 3rd and 4th districts.



The streets of Paris in the early morning smell of fresh baked bread. Setting out for a boulangerie became our morning ritual. Most mornings the kids would wake to their favorite; Isabella the pain au chocolat, Estrella, the butter croissant, and Joaquin was in heaven with a baguette. Our nights often ended with bread too.

We dipped slices of baguettes into small dishes of olive oil and a balsamic reduction creme, and topped the crunchy wedges of bread with an assortment of french cheeses, olives, roasted peppers and washed it all down with organic French red wine and local beer.

My introduction to organic bakeries in Paris was Le Pain Quotidien, The Daily Bread. Their organic baguettes dipped in big mugs of Chocolat Chaud was heaven.

And it turns out, this boulangerie serves up sustainable foods in 200 locations around the world, including a spot 25 miles away from me. Until I can return to the City of Lights again, I can satisfy some of my favorite flavors with an organic bakery close to home. And of course, I can always bake my own French baguette-style bread in my own kitchen. Click here for the recipe.

Eat less water at the kitchen table.

There is power in the collective!

Be well,



Get The Good Chocolate for Yourself

“Get the good chocolate for yourself,” advises author Simran Sethi, on her newly launched chocolate podcast,  The Slow Melt.  Good chocolate demands you place the decadent morsel in your mouth to slowly seep into each pore of the tongue. And as Simran Sethi discusses both in her podcast and book Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of the Food We Love, good chocolate is also best for the planet.


Simran is on a mission to save the food we love. Chocolate, the good kind made with pure cocoa, is in trouble. Experts predict a cacao shortage of one million tons by 2020. In anticipation, confectioners add fillers and replace cocoa butter with cheap palm oil.

Many factors contribute to the shortage of chocolate, but most boil down to water.

Weather is a dubious friend for cacao farmers. Droughts stunt growth and downpours spoil the harvest.  Water, too much or too little, is growing too burdensome for a growing number of the 5.5 million small farms growing 90 percent of the world’s cacao. Throughout the Cocoa Belt, trees are uprooted or burned to the ground and replanted with sturdier cash crops. On the Ivory Coast, the single largest cacao producer, rubber plantations are fast replacing cacao trees.

As the supply of cocoa drops the demand for palm oil increases: and virgin peatlands pay the price. Peatland is layers of soggy plant debris that act as freshwater reservoirs. Formed over 10,000 years, the layers of plant material can reach depths of 70 feet. This saturated land filters the water for animals and humans living downstream.

Peatlands, peatlandcritical in regulating global climate, are illegally drained of freshwater to make room for plantations producing palm oil in high demand globally. Two million palm plantations grow on former peatlands in Indonesia. Illegal fires down virgin forests, draining the peatlands of freshwater to make way for palm crops.

Over half of all packaged foods and cosmetics include palm oil; and with every passing year more chocolate. So give yourself and those you care about the “good” chocolate. Together we will save the foods we cherish most.

I send a special Valentine’s wish to Simran Sethi for the work she does in the world. She is fond of chocolate cake… so in honor of Simran, my favorite chocolate cake recipe.


Free-Trade Chocolate Cake (or cupcakes)

(Adapted from One-Bowl Chocolate Cake from Martha Stewart Living)

3/4 cup unsweetened fair-trade cocoa powder (Equal Exchange sells this as Baking Cocoa)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose organic dry farmed or rain-fed flour
1 1/2 organic fair-trade sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs (preferably from a pasture-raised hen)
3/4 cup organic low-fat buttermilk (I like Organic Valley. It is co-op of small family dairies across the U.S.. This brand can be found at large and small grocery stores. If not at your grocery store yet, ask and ask again.)
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons organic oil like vegetable or canola
1 teaspoon organic pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans (2 inches deep) dusted with cocoa powder. If making cupcakes, butter the muffin tin just the same unless you are using cupcake paper cups. I found that one scoop of batter using an ice cream scooper works perfectly for each cupcake.

Sift all the dry ingredients into a big mixing bowl.

Beat ingredients together with a mixer on the lowest setting or with a whisk until just combined.

Add all the wet ingredients into the same bowl. Beat until all combined and batter is smooth about three minutes with a mixer and a few minutes longer when mixing by hand.

Divide batter into both pans and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cupcakes do not take as long to bake. Check if the cupcakes are done after 20 minutes.

Note: to remove the cake from the pans with ease, you must let the cake cool off completely. This takes at least 15 minutes. While you wait for the cake make the frosting (frosting recipe to follow). Place one of the cakes on a cake plate. Frost the top of the first cake. This will be your yummy center. Place the second cake on top and frost the top and sides of the cake. I like to decorate the cake with fresh berries like blueberries or blackberries when in season…organic of course.

Chocolate Frosting
I love this frosting. The sour cream gives it a nice little twist. I have found that young kids are not as big on the slight twang to this frosting. When I am baking for a younger crowd I will replace with a buttercream frosting. If you are making cupcakes you can half this recipe.

makes four cups

2 1/4 cups organic powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened fair-trade cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
6 Ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 sticks unsalted organic butter, softened (Organic Valley also makes butter or some farmers markets sell butter)
9 Ounces bittersweet fair-trade chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 Cup organic creme fraiche or sour cream

Sift together dry ingredients and combine in one bowl.

In a larger bowl beat together the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until smooth.

Gradually add the sugar-cocoa mixture into the cream cheese and butter mixture and beat until combined.

Pour in the melted chocolate.

Add the sour cream or creme fraiche and beat until all combined.

Eat less water at the kitchen table.

There is power in the collective!

Be well,

Florencia Ramirez

You might also like:

Why give fair-trade chocolate to your valentine 

Spread the love give certified chocolate

America the Beautiful Thanks to the EPA- an open letter to Scott Pruitt


Dear Mr. Scott Pruitt (President Trump’s Nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency),

On warm winter afternoons, my daughter Estrella and I head to the beach.  She sits in the matching beach chair beside me with her sketch pad and Harry Potter book. But the books are quickly tossed on the beach towel. Instead, she chases sandpipers along the shore, and writes her name in the wet sand with a thin branch from a tree she finds tossed on the beach; it’s rough edges smoothed from the seas undulations.

“Where do these branches come from?” she asked me last week.

“They are washed in from the rain,” I answered her.

I don’t let the kids play near the storm drain just after the rain. Wedged between the granules of sand is oil, heavy metals and pesticides washed off miles and miles of pavement and thousands of acres of chemically treated lettuce and strawberry fields.

But while our rivers and oceans are under stress from pollutants, fertilizers, and trash, I recognize our country has made tremendous gains in the near five decades since the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, the agency you want to lead Mr. Pruitt.

I was too young to remember the junkyards on the banks of rivers, or the thick smog settling over many U.S. cities in the early 1970s. You likely don’t remember either, as you were two years old when Nixon signed the Executive Order to establish the agency.

So I’ve gathered a few images together of a pre-regulated America.  These are days when “American business’ had freedoms,” as you mentioned during your senate confirmation hearings.

Smog over Manhattan in 1966. Photo source: Business Insider

The burning Cuyahoga River in 1969 from industrial pollution led to the Clean Water Act

Using auto bodies to prevent bank erosion along the Willamette R

Polk Co. using auto bodies to prevent erosion on the Willamette River


Jamaica Bay in Long Island in the early 1970’s


Common waste disposal during 1950-1970

The images bear no resemblance to the shore my daughter runs along thanks to regulations enacted and enforced by the EPA.

Even if rivers aren’t burning anymore, or tires are not littered along this great country’s shoreline, the work of the EPA to protect air, water, and human health is far from over.

Consider the following:

  • Dead zones, fed from pollution upstream in places like the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico continue to grow.
  • Forty percent of America’s rivers and 46 percent of our lakes are too polluted with nitrates to support aquatic life according to the EPA.
  • The volume of raw sewage dumped into U.S. waters decreased 65 percent thanks to the EPA, but 850 billion gallons continue to overflow annually. The EPA estimates Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) are to blame for 3,500-5,500 gastrointestinal illnesses each year in the Great Lakes area and coastal beaches.
  • Air pollution causes 200,000 early deaths in the U.S. every year.

I leave you with advice from Republican Utah State Senator Todd Weiler. He too is not fond of environmental regulations.  But after his experience working to improve the daunting smog problems of Salt Lake City (currently the smoggiest city in the country), he has insight I hope will inform your own.

“In a free market there is no incentive not to pollute. In fact, the incentive is to pollute as much as you can get away with. And it pains me to say, but the Clean Air Act is working and that’s a big reason why our air is getting cleaner.”

I wish you all the best in this next chapter of your career.  It is my sincere wish for my daughter that you will do all you can to keep America Beautiful. And I will do the same.

Be well,

Florencia Ramirez

Spend three times the money on pasture-raised eggs or eat three times the eggs

I hosted an impromptu brunch for 11. Bell pepper, onion, kale, cheese, and butter leftover from last week’s farmers’ market were perfect ingredients for a tasty omelet. Apples and bananas leftover from the week’s grocery trip earlier in the week, and oranges from our backyard tree became the fruit salad.  The guests, already in my kitchen, helped chop the fruit and vegetables, while my eldest daughter Isabella and I snuck out to get the eggs, the one missing ingredient.

I scanned the refrigerated section of my nearby Vons. I reached for the Vital Farms, pasture-raised eggs, squeezed between cartons of cage-free, free-range, and all-natural eggs.


Photo credit: Vital Farms

“Wow mom, those eggs are a lot more than these,” said Isabella while she pointed out the carton of conventionally raised eggs on the nearby shelf on sale for $1.99. The organic, pasture-raised eggs cost $6.99, full price.

“We are paying more than three times more, but we are getting more than three times the nutrition,” I said, recalling a story told to me by Kristan Fretwell, co-owner of Hunter Cattle.

Kristan educates the public during farm tours of the benefits of pasture-based farm systems for the environment and our health. The animals at Hunter Cattle are rotated on pastures at her family farm in Brooklet, Georgia.

“That means I’d need to eat at least three eggs to get the same nutrition as one of your eggs,” said one young girl after listening to Kristan explain the difference in nutrition between pasture-based eggs, and eggs from chickens raised indoors, on a diet of grain.

“I hadn’t thought about it like that before,” Kristan told the young girl. And neither had I, but when you look at it from that perspective, we the consumer are not paying more, but are paying what the food is worth.

The difference in nutrition between conventionally raised eggs and pasture-raised eggs is startling. I found the following  list of the superior nutrition of pasture-based eggs in the Vital Farms website based on a comprehensive study published in 2007 and 2008:

  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more Vitamin A
  • Two times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • Three times more Vitamin E
  • Seven times more beta carotene
  • Four to six times more Vitamin D

I served tasty and nutritious omelets enjoyed by all. Here is a link to my Chard or Kale and Cheese Omelet recipe. The omelet I served included bell peppers and onion.


Eat less water at the kitchen table! It is better for the earth and better for you.

There is power in the collective.

Be well,

Why Homemade Food is Better

In my forthcoming book, Eat Less Water, I list the top five action steps to initiate in your kitchen to save water. Cooking meals at home as much as possible is one of them. When you cook meals, you control the source of your ingredients. Only then can you ensure the food you eat is water sustainable.


Water sustainable food minimally diverts water from its natural course. For example, dry farmed or rain-fed agriculture is grown with natural rain, green water, using no water from the ground or rivers and lakes. Since 7 out of every 10 gallons of water is used to grow food, we need to support farming methods that grow food with less water like dry farming, biodynamic farming, and rotational grazing.

Water sustainable food reduces pollution, with the elimination of chemical fertilizers, and pesticides. And it minimizes nutrient runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus, the largest contributor of dead zones in our oceans.


To bring in the fall season, my girls baked a pumpkin pie. It wasn’t made from scratch. We swapped fresh pumpkins for canned organic pumpkin puree, and the organic crust was pre-made,  but the pie was homemade. The eggs came from a small local farm, Harvest Gathering Farm. No xanthan gum (derived from corn or soy the two largest GMO crops), palm oil, corn syrup or a dozen more additives, and preservatives were in our pie.

The fall season is a great time to usher in a practice of cooking more homemade food. Rivers, underground aquifers, and oceans need us in our kitchens. Take control of the ingredients in your food.



Simple Organic Homemade Pumpkin Pie 


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool and serve with homemade whipped cream. I use heavy whipping cream from Organic Valley Farms, sold nationwide. Or serve with homemade ice cream. Click here for recipe.


There is power in the collective.

Eat less water at the kitchen table!

Be well,




Have You Been to a Fermentation Festival?


“I don’t want to go to a fermentation festival,” complained Joaquin, my ten-year son. “I don’t like kimchi or sauerkraut,” he groaned. I reminded him of other fermented foods, which don’t involve cabbage he likes, like salsa, pickles, kombucha and chocolate. He wasn’t convinced, but he and my youngest daughter, Estrella had no choice in the matter. They were going to the Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival.


The truth is I had no idea what to expect. I’d never heard of a fermentation festival, but was intrigued by the idea after studying the health benefits of fermented foods when I wrote the beer chapter for my book, Eat Less Water.

Fermentation dates back to 6000 B.C. Bacteria or yeast, fed by sugar in the food, is converted to alcohol or lactic acid during fermentation. Eating or drinking fermented foods promotes microbial balance in the gut, our largest component of the immune system, making it easier for the body to digest, and absorb nutrients. A healthy gastrointestinal tract reduces inflammation linked to a range of health disorders from allergies to autoimmune diseases.

The fermentation process is likened to microorganisms in the soil. Sugar in roots and plant material feeds microorganisms. A thriving microbial community in the ground increases the availability of nutrients to plants’ and increases the plant’s resistance to disease and pests. It always fascinates me when I see how our bodies mirror nature around us.


I am hooked on fermentation after attending the Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival. Imagine packing mason jars with organic vegetables under a canopy of oak trees on the sun-kissed day in Santa Barbara. The kids loved the hands-on workshops as much as me. We packed jars with cucumbers, garlic, zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, and jalapeños. Joaquin even helped stuff jars with cabbage for sauerkraut.

But the best part for all of us was learning how to make fermented soda. Author, Pascual Bauder, introduced the concept of wild sodas. We learned you could make soda from a variety of plants found at and around our homes. Pascual treated us to his drink made from pine needle that surprisingly had hints of tangerine and lemon. In the DIY tent, we learned to make kefir mojito soda. We have our first batches fermenting on our kitchen counter now.



The end of the festival came too quick. It was too much to see, learn, do and eat in one day. We never made it to the Kombucha Lounge.

“This was the best festival I’ve ever come to, ” said Joaquin while he drank sips of cayenne pepper kombucha and helped me carry out our heavy basket of mason jars full of vegetables soaked in brine.

The good news is the Wild Brew event is in March. So if you live near Santa Barbara, or want to build a weekend getaway around this festival, you will not be disappointed.


Eat less water at the kitchen table.

There is power in the collective!

Be well,

Florencia Ramirez









Eat Less Water Coming to Bookstores Near You Fall 2017

I hit the send button for my completed manuscript for Eat Less Water (with a little help from my three children)! It took seven years, 16,000 miles of travel and a whole lot of faith to finish. But as Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”


My book research extended from California to New York, and Illinois to Louisiana to interview over 20 revolutionary farmers and food producers. I traveled nationwide to learn the best techniques to save and keep water on the American farm.

Our FooD

The farmers I highlight in Eat Less Water are the heroes of the story. They work daily to protect our soil, air, and water like wheat farmer John DeRosier in Paso Robles, California; I’ll never forget our first phone conversation when I explained to him the premise for my book. He said, “You are in for a treat,” I was served a chocolate cake that day. And Dr. Adolfo Murillo, owner of Tequila Alquimia for inviting me into his dining room in Oxnard and patiently walking me through the science of distillation. And to Alfred and Carney Farris, two pioneers in the sustainable farming movement, building their Tennessee soil for 50 years with wisdom and grace. These are only a few of the many farmers who taught me how to choose the best food and drinks to save and protect clean water resources.

I am honored to be published by Red Hen Press, an indie press committed to print diverse voices. I thank God that Kate Gale, managing editor of Red Hen Press loved this book after a shot of the “Tequila and Water” chapter I read during a workshop at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. This year Red Hen Press celebrate 22 years of publishing (an auspicious number).



Eat less water at the kitchen table.

There is power in the collective!

Be well,

Florencia Ramirez

Sweet Home Chicago

Serendipity or destiny?

I once called Chicago home. I attended University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy. It is where I learned to be a researcher, labored over economic derivatives, and got over my fear of math (mostly). At the University of Chicago, I attended my first Creative Non-Fiction class. It is there amongst the gargoyles where I gained the tools to write, Eat Less Water.



As I enter the final stretch of a four-year long journey of researching and writing the book Eat Less Water, I find myself again on the shores of Lake Michigan. Tomorrow I meet with Helen Cameron, founder, and owner of Uncommon Ground restaurant to discuss her organic beer label, Greenstar Brewery.


I had my sights on another organic brewery located in the Northeast, but it didn’t come to fruition, it got too hard to coordinate. Guided by the sage words of Carlos Castaneda, I let it go:

“A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it.”

I wasn’t sure I’d write a Beer and Water chapter. But then, I found Greenstar Brewery, and immediately it fell into place, and my path with a heart led to Chicago.

In Chicago, my daughter and I are hosted by dear friends, Todd and Geeta, and their three children. We met when they lived near my true home, Oxnard, California (a.k.a. the Center of the Universe.) Geeta Maker-Clark works to change food systems and teaches her patients and medical students how clean, healthy food has the power to heal. They are the only family I know with a labyrinth in the front garden.


Garden labyrinth (

Later today, I’ll tour Hyde Park and the University of Chicago campus with my eldest daughter, Isabella.

Serendipity or destiny? Does it matter? I steep in gratitude to be here now.

Eat less water at the kitchen table.

There is power in the collective!

Be well,

Florencia Ramirez







4 Tasty Earth Day Recipes to Save the Planet

Food is a delicious gift from planet earth. Celebrate Earth Day with a feast of flavor.

I offer you links to four recipes to eat your way through your Earth Day, including chocolate cake for dessert. But these recipes are a bit different than the standard. These recipes are designed to be action steps to building a healthy environment by encouraging us to reconsider our ingredients.

You will see words like organic, fair trade, dry farmed and pasture-raised. For example, the Stir-Fry recipe calls for organic tofu.While it may seem like no big deal to swap the conventionally grown tofu with the organic variety, it does make a difference to the quality of air, soil and water. Certified organic, non-GMO, fair-trade, and Demeter labels represent a food system that farms without chemicals, signaling to the eater that their food is grown using a system of farming Mother Nature intended.

Four meals alone are not going to save the planet, but you and I together will change the world with what we eat. Be an educated eater.



Press here for recipe

You might also like this article:

This Earth Day Hug a Sustainable Farmer

Eat less water at the kitchen table.

There is power in the collective!

Be well,




Start Eating Less Water Today, World Water Day

Save the Date

Today, March 22, is World Water Day. I told this to my 8-year old daughter Estrella this morning before school. “Congratulations, it’s your day,” she said. I laughed at her response and wondered why then I wasn’t served breakfast in bed.

But this day belongs to all of us. We are water being. It fascinates me to remember how our bodies are composed of 70 percent water, a mirror image of the planet. To honor water is to honor life itself.

World Water Day is a day to recognize how fortunate many of us are to have access to a reliable, clean water source. And it is a day to  remember those who don’t. This photo posted today by Environment America on Twitter explains more than any words why clean water matters.

If 70 percent of all freshwater is used to grow and produce food, then shouldn’t we be focused on food production to save water?

The Environmental Defense Fund tweeted:

If you care about the future of water on our planet, then take a look in your pantry and refrigerator. What farming methods do you support, ones that support and promote clean and abundant water sources?

Support sustainable food, farmers and food producers and start eating less water today, World Water Day 2016.

The following are links to six of my favorite farmers/food brands you can have delivered to your door or found at markets around the nation. These brands represent farming methods that are doing right by water, not only on World Water Day but every day.

Find small sustainable farmers in your area with the Eatwild online directory and shop your farmers’ markets.  I challenge you to start eating less water today!

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Dairy –Organic Valley 

Rice- Lotus Foods

Chocolate- Taza Chocolate

Wine- Benziger 

Coffee- Cloud Forest Hawaiian Coffee

Eggs- Coyote Creek Farm

Eat less water at the kitchen table.

There is power in the collective!

Be well,

Florencia Ramirez