"I Think We Should Do The Best We Can"
Ben Young, son of Neil Young, delivers organic eggs from Coastside Ranch in La Honda to chef Charlie Ayers at Calafia Cafe in Palo Alto. (photo by Kevin Johnson)Every Sunday, Charlie Ayers goes through as many as 1,500 eggs during brunch service at his Calafia Cafe in Palo Alto.An article by Carolyn Jung, San Francisco Chronicle introduces us to Ben Young, who lives his best life, doing what he can do, with spectacular results:
Are you living your best life? Michelle Obama wants you to. Emily Jasper of Forbes read the book What Would Michelle Do in preparation for The First Lady's commencement speech at Virginia Tech, and finds that what Michelle would do is simple, though sometimes we need reminding: Live Your Best Life. Today on our main page Malcolm Lambert teaches us what living his best life means, and even though he lost both of his legs six years ago, it includes jumping out of planes! "I think we should do the best we can while we're here," he says. Check out his video here. Meanwhile, Carolyn Jung of the San Francisco Chronicle introduces us to Ben Young, who is living his best life, doing what he can do, with spectacular results:
"Every Sunday, Charlie Ayers goes through as many as 1,500 eggs during brunch service at his Calafia Cafe in Palo Alto.But there are certain, especially dear eggs that never get cracked for mere omelets or mundane pancake batter. Instead, with their pert yolks as brilliant orange as a tropical sunset, these particular eggs are reserved for a fitting showcase presentation - sunny side up in all their glory.
What makes these eggs so special?
They're certified organic. They're from free-range chickens. And they're produced locally at Coastside Ranch in La Honda, an egg farm run by Ben Young, the son of rocker Neil Young.
The famed singer-songwriter's middle child, Ben Young, 33, was born with cerebral palsy. It was he who in 1986 inspired his father to help found the Bridge School in Hillsborough, a nonprofit educational organization that teaches communications skills to children with severe disabilities. Every October, Neil Young hosts the annual Bridge School Benefit Concerts at Mountain View's Shoreline Amphitheatre, where he's joined by some of the music industry's biggest names.
Ayers, Google's first executive chef, is no stranger to the music scene. A regular attendee of the Bridge School concerts, he also was once the private chef for the Grateful Dead.
Just after Calafia opened three years ago, Ayers was chatting with his longtime friend James Olness, who did the artwork for the restaurant. Olness, archivist for the late-rock concert promoter Bill Graham, mentioned Ben Young's egg farm. Since Ayers gets most of his ingredients from small, local farms, it piqued his interest.
"They had the most beautiful orange yolks. You could taste that they were the real deal," Ayers says.
"I'm lucky enough to be able to buy them from Ben, but only during the offseason for the farmers' market, when it's still the rainy season. That's why I'm always hoping it rains more."
From about October through April, Ayers buys more than 2,800 eggs weekly from Ben Young, who delivers them to Calafia each Friday, with the help of his assistant, Dustin Cline.
Meeting the customers
Young uses a wheelchair and speaks with the aid of a computerized communications device. Often, he'll be dressed in a Calafia T-shirt or beanie for these occasions, which he relishes because his favorite part of the job is meeting the folks who adore his eggs.
"I have a hand in every part of the business," he says. "The most challenging part - besides the tedious paperwork - is having cerebral palsy. It takes more time to do things, and some people think I don't understand them, which can be a challenge. The help of good friends, though, gets me through any obstacles."
After graduating from Half Moon Bay High School, Young took some agricultural courses, which led him to raise alpacas for the 4-H Club. He got the notion to raise chickens next because they are fairly low maintenance.
In 1999, he started the farm on 3 acres of his family's ranch. In 2002, it was certified organic. There are still alpacas aplenty on the farm, too, which guard the chickens against predators.
Young says he's pleased to be following in the footsteps of his father, an environmental and small-farm advocate who co-founded the benefit concert Farm Aid. He's proud of his eggs, which he used to enjoy poached before having to rely on a feeding tube for his nourishment."
From Emily Jasper's article in Forbes "What Would Michelle Obama Do":
"You have to do what is best for you. It takes a lot of bravery to suddenly do that. You may find it is exactly the same path you had already been on, and then it isn’t that scary. But when “what is best” means changing everything, turning your world upside down, you have to trust that you can do it. “What is best” is not what is easiest. The best is where you have competence, strength, and passion, but still a lot to learn. Your best may mean taking a nontraditional look at careers that would allow you to thrive on this competence. You may not be a professional ballerina, but you could run a dance foundation that brings classes and scholarships to disadvantaged kids. You may not be a chef, but your love of food may make you the perfect producer at the Food Network.
During Michelle’s speech, she expressed how important it is to actively live your life. Virginia Tech is known for tragedy, but the community is active and thriving. That is the reason I chose to attend the university, and that is the impression we gave Michelle of the Hokie Nation. Active pursuit of your best life means that you will be a part of it. You will be at the heart of it, and that drive is infectious. If you want to live your best life, so will others.
Regardless of the political light that changes every message these days, think about what Michelle would do. Think of her as another person you might see on the street. Does her message of living your best life still resonate? It should. It is a message any of us can share, so I hope you pass it on.