By Abi Weeds, founder of Essential Care (organic skin care)
It’s not often that I wax lyrical about a cookbook (although I do have favourite chefs such as vegetarian pioneer Sarah Brown), but having made yet another delicious recipe* from Ysanne Spevack’s Best-Ever Book of Organic Cooking (Lorenz Books ISBN 978-1-84681-439-6), I felt compelled to spread the word. What is also lovely about this book is the way it’s arranged by season which encourages local sourcing and is great if you have an organic veggie box. I had met Ysanne briefly before ... was it virtually? or perhaps at the Organic Festival in Bristol a few years ago... and was keen to find out more about this organic pioneer. So I was delighted to catch up with her by email as she headed out on a US road trip in pursuit of her other passion; music and violins.
Abi: How / when did you first become interested in the organic movement?
Ysanne: I was always interested in nature and spirit as long as I can remember. I suppose this took the form of actively promoting organic food around 1994, when I started writing for fanzines and independent pre-Internet press... But the roots of this pursuit go deeper than the mid nineties.
Abi: How can we get more people to engage with the organic movement?
Ysanne: Grow your own food, it's the most wonderfully therapeutic and uplifting activity you can do. It's powerful to connect with source in this way.
Abi: What is your greatest achievement?
Ysanne: Living my life as a creative.
Abi: Who or what has been your biggest inspiration in cookery, music, life or otherwise?
Ysanne: Connecting with Spirit. Listening to my Guides, can you hear yours?!!
Abi: What is your favourite recipe in the Organic cookbook?
Ysanne: Mutton stew is pretty yummy :)
Abi: How do you manage to combine your life as a writer, cook, gardener and musician?
Ysanne: Ha ha! Well, right now I'm on a tour bus in Oregon in the USA with Imaad Wasif, and simultaneously have two assistants looking after two edible gardens in LA. They text me photos of stuff in the gardens like bugs or fruit, and I text them back exactly what I'd like done... My lawyer just emailed an agreement to the producer of a feature film I composed the soundtrack to, and I'm doing this interview with you... So I suppose the key is being super organized, finding people who are able to assist me who are deeply committed, talented and pure, people I can totally trust to delegate to, and who are into listening to my ideas and coming through with the best ways to move forward for the ultimate outcome.
Abi: Are you planning any more organic books?
Ysanne: Yes, I'm writing one now!! I'm writing it on the road, at soundchecks and in the hotel. It's for a wonderful independent publisher called Process, and the cool thing is they understand my creative process involves expressing this current through music and food. I'm very excited about this new book...
Abi: Do you buy any other organic products apart from food & drink?
Ysanne: Yes, I wear organic fashion from a UK company called Ciel.
Ysanne was born and raised in London, but is now based in California. You can find out more about her at:
Ysanne is tweeting @ilovestrings
*My favourites from the Cookbook include Rhubarb Meringue Pie, Courgette Fritters and Roasted Shallot & Squash Salad. p.s. Anyone who can make me cook as consistently as this deserves praise indeed, given that I did not inherit my mother’s abilities in formulation, recipes or the like ...