Meet Chip Morris, a Slow Food Champion of the Delta. Together with his wife/business partner Bobbie Campbell Morris, he has brought to Rio Vista the world of beans, in hundreds of colors, patterns, shapes and sizes, and with as many textures, tastes, uses and origins. The selection offered by Elegant Beans is due in part to the Ark of Taste project of the worldwide Slow Food movement. This project seeks to rediscover and catalog forgotten flavors by documenting excellent food products that are in danger of disappearing. Since the international initiative began in 1996, more than 800 products from over 50 countries have been added to the International Ark of Taste. A number of beans from this list have been put into commercial production by the Morris’s, and a nice selection of their products is carried by none other than our Lira’s Supermarket.
Not excited by the idea of beans? First, consider that they are an ancient source of protein that is produced with far less water and other resources than meat products. Like all legumes, beans enrich the soil with added nitrogen wherever they are grown. Beans are truly an elegant solution to problem of feeding the world’s growing population on shrinking resources. Still not interested? Wait until you try the three salads that will be served at this year’s Slow Food Festival. Prepared by the staff at Lira’s from beans provided by Elegant Beans, the Five Bean Salad and the others prepared from Cowboy Beans and Runner Cannellini beans will show you how delicious, versatile and interesting this food can be.
The story of Elegant Beans and Beyond, is one of deep family roots and a tradition of living off of the products of the land. Chip is part of the Mohr Fry Ranch family that is in its fifth generation in the Lodi area. With its commitment to sustainability and good stewardship of land and community, this enterprise illustrates that the appreciation of “good, clean, and fair food” did not begin with the Slow Food movement, but was organically present in our place from earliest times. Elegant Beans and Beyond has also shown how a small family operation can remain economically viable through constant testing, experimentation and creativity. With careful attention to the specific growing conditions and handling demanded by the many varieties of beans produced, Elegant Beans and Beyond is preserving and providing us with fabulous foods developed through the centuries in all parts of the world. They are truly a local treasure and richly deserve Slow Food’s “Snail of Approval.”
In a reprise of last year, Chip Morris will be at the 4th Annual Slow Food Festival in Rio Vista on June 20.