Domestic diva touts latest book in Farmingdale
Dozens from around Long Island showed up to Stew Leonard’s in Farmingdale recently for a chance to meet Martha Stewart. The “domestic diva” took part in a book signing to promote Vegetables, a book that is devoted to Stewart’s favorite vegetarian recipes. It was inspired by Stewart’s desire to demonstrate that not all meals need to rely heavily on meat.
“Many people are realizing that we all eat too much meat,” Stewart said. “It’s not that healthy. So why not spend more time learning and prepping and cooking vegetables to increase our plant-based diets? I think it’s a very important thing for the future.”
The book, in addition to containing 150 recipes, offers shoppers some guidance for selecting and storing vegetables, as well as scientific facts as to what benefits can be found in certain vegetables. Stewart made clear her preference for organic vegetables but was also quick to point out that genetically modified doesn’t automatically mean unhealthy.
“Not all genetically modified vegetables are bad,” she said. “It’s very hard to determine what’s what. It doesn’t always take from the nutrition of the vegetable. But I always look for organically grown if I can find it. I’m a big gardener and I grow a lot of things myself. I know what things should look like, so I shop accordingly.”
Stewart is optimistic that growing vegetables in greenhouses is on the rise, which she says can help in terms of local availability.
“You can’t totally buy locally in the northeast, because things aren’t growing unless they’re grown in greenhouses,” she said. “And I think the greenhouse movement, like in Brooklyn on the rooftops, is phenomenally successful and will be even more successful. Turning big, defunct shopping centers into farms under glass is also very good because I think shopping local is great.”
Besides advocating for buying locally when possible, Stewart shared her take on what an ideal grocery store should offer, citing not only good value, but also the opportunity to learn further about food. In particular, she offered praise for the store that hosted her book signing.
“I met Stew Leonard Sr. when he first started Stew Leonard’s in [Norwalk] Connecticut,” Stewart said. “That was many years ago and I’ve been a fan ever since. It’s a really fun store. You learn a lot here. You get very good value. Stew Leonard Jr. works very hard to get the best available produce, fish and wine, too.”
For Stewart, family tradition and a genuine love of vegetables keeps the topic fresh and resulted in her book.
“I love vegetables,” she said. “My father grew a tremendous garden in Nutley, NJ. We ate all his vegetables for as long as the season produced them. Anything tomatoes, anything potatoes, sautéed spinach, I love. My mother’s mashed potatoes are the best you’ve ever tasted.”