Cooking Classes

Vert Foods: Ancient Tradition Finds a Home in the Modern Kitchen

By Hayley Thomas | October 15, 2014
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Virginia Marum, Vert Foods cooking class
Virginia Marum at a Vert Foods cooking class. Photo courtesy of Virginia Marum.

It’s hard to believe, but true: At one dark point in her life, Vert Foods creator Virginia Marum was disillusioned with the state of her body—and even more with the things she put inside of it.

Then, the self-taught chef decided to ditch the processed snacks and toxic munchies. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship with real food—colorful, nourishing, nutrient-dense whole fruits, veggies, protein and grains. She never looked back.

Now, Marum provides weekly, handmade meals for delivery and pickup as well as educational courses that give others the same push toward better health and happiness. The San Luis Obispo–based cooking instructor works exclusively with whole, organic ingredients, 60% to 90% of which are sourced locally. Many of Marum’s recipes—which include everything from probiotic-rich kimchi and antioxidant-rich dark chocolate to authentic sourdough bread—date back more than 100 years. Marum’s course on sauces, dips and dressings takes an ancient approach to modern cravings.

“I teach people how to make ketchup and teriyaki sauce, as well as all the other sauces we all know and love, but we use just five ingredients in each,” Marum said. “I have taught classes on how to make your own turkey ‘lunch meat,’ without the nitrates or preservatives. We are always using whole-food-based ingredients. That’s the most important thing.”

Since launching the classes last year, buzz has certainly spread. Marum’s weekly Vert Foods boxes—always packed with four portions of fully cooked, nutrient-dense meals—won’t remain a local secret for very long. According to Marum, simplicity can bring about better nutritional balance.

“Vert Foods is about getting people back to all of the ancient ways that we used to prepare food, before we had food science and chemical cooking,” the chef said. “I like to call it ‘ancient tradition’ style.”

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