Chris Baccus is the founder of Sustainable Dad. His love for cooking started in the early 1990s when he first learned how to cook his first dish, chicken stir fry. This sparked his interest, and so he started taking cooking classes. Over the years, his style has become more sophisticated. He can pretty much whip up anything he wants.
After watching the film, Food Inc., his family has turned to sustainable food. Naturally, he makes it a point to buy only the freshest ingredients from organic farmers, ranchers and producers. They also buy ingredients from Whole Foods.
Besides the love for cooking, he is also a huge car enthusiast. He has been a BMW CCA member for over 15 years. He also authors a car blog, Auto Marketing Blog. Professionally, he works as a digital marketing for Caruso Affiliated (The Grove and Americana at Brand.) He lives in Los Angeles with his beautiful wife and precocious twin boys.
1. Organic food is a costlier than non-organic food. How do you cut back on the expense? Are there strategies that you can recommend?
It's actually pretty easy. First, I recommend cooking at home instead of going out to eat. Home cooking is more cost-effective plus you can choose what ingredients to use and reduce things like butter, oil and salt that are often over used in restaurant meals.
More home cooking saves money you can use to buy organic over non-organic foods. I also recommend eating considerably less meat. Our family reduced our meat intake by cooking meat based meals a few times a week. This is a huge savings since vegetarian meals are often less costly to make.
2. Are the majority of ingredients in your recipes always made of organic or sustainable foods?
About 95% of what I use at home is organic. The majority is also local since I buy a considerable amount of my produce and dairy from local farmers markets. Of course, that's easier to do in sunny Los Angeles. When we lived in the Detroit suburbs, we didn't buy local as much as we do now. All of the meat I use is sustainable using local California ranches. I don't buy any meat from the grocery store.
3. Was there any specific scenes or research in the film Food Inc. that stood out as a factor in deciding to change your family's diet?
The most impactful part of the film for me personally involved the mother who couldn't discuss her little boy's death due to food libel laws. That silence to me is something very disturbing and right then and there I knew I was going to do my best to never buy from big suppliers. I'd seek out smaller suppliers that supported honest, sustainable decisions whenever I could. It's nearly impossible to do when dining out, but very easy to do when cooking at home.
Yes, smaller sustainable suppliers do cost more, but like I recommended with organic choices, reducing meals with meat allows you to buy better quality meat when you do decide to cook it. Plus, I honestly believe there is a better flavor profile from grass fed and sustainably raised animals.
4. How did you get into digital marketing as a profession?
It was accidental. I was a software developer and ended up taking a job in the late 1990s for an agency that did the marketing for Chrysler vehicles. That job exposed me to the world of marketing and while I still mostly did websites back then, I gravitated more and more to the marketing side of the business and eventually fully transitioned to a digital strategy role for Team Detroit doing work mostly for Ford. I haven't looked back since.
5. You seem to have a passion for cars, what was the spark that caused you to become a car enthusiast?
I grew up in the 80s with great film cars like the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and the '57 Corvette in Less Than Zero. It mostly started there and when I was fortunate enough to own a 1965 Mustang my senior year of high school.
6. If you invite a Michelin-starred chef over for dinner, what dish would you prepare?
Why am I cooking? How about the Michelin-starred chef cook and I'll prep. If I must cook, I'm going with something simple that is never a miss. Some chorizo and carne-asada street tacos with a side of guac and chips and beer.