Farm to Table isn’t just a catchy phrase. When food is picked and eaten the same day, or within a day or two, it is fresher and tastes better; it’s more nutritious; more alive. Local foods have not been trucked or flown in from many miles away. I used to have a beautiful garden, and grew most of the veggies my family ate from March through October. I remember my son, as a toddler, reaching up to pluck yellow cherry-sized tomatoes from the vine with his chubby little fingers. He devoured them like candy. Warmed by the sun, they were sweet and ripened to perfection. A better snack I could not have imagined. It was no surprise that I later struggled to get him to eat tomatoes purchased from the grocery store. His tastebuds did not lie. There honestly is a difference between picked yesterday, and picked a few weeks ago.
Local foods support the local economy and create a strong sense of community. I mark the start of my local Farmer’s Market with a giant red pen, and am almost giddy the day it opens each Spring. Of course, I love meandering through the market, stopping at each stand to taste, touch, smell, and buy my week’s worth of groceries. What speaks to my soul, though, is the community that takes place around markets like mine. Getting to know my local farmers is an honor and I love speaking with them about the work they do, how the weather impacted their weekly harvest, and how they find such joy in bringing the best of the best to their customers. I love hearing about soil diversity, companion planting, and crop rotation— practices used by organic farmers to preserve the health of the land upon which they grow. Since the market is the epitome of seasonal eating, the farmers often share recipes that encompass the current harvest and offer different ways to enjoy the pleasure of the season’s offerings. My market even brings in local food trucks and live music, so I often make an evening of it by spreading out my blanket, grabbing dinner, and watching my son play… until the band stops and the fireflies arrive.
Buying local food truly keeps local farms healthy and creates local jobs at farms. Local food is often safer, too, because smaller farms are usually less aggressive about the use of chemicals, even if they are not certified organic. Eating locally grown food even helps in the fight against global warming because local food travels less distance to market than typical grocery store foods. Less fuel is required, and fewer greenhouse gasses are generated. Still another benefit of eating locally is helping the local economy. Farmers who sell food to local customers receive the full retail value, dollar for dollar. I really believe that buying local is just about the healthiest option for all involved. I encourage you to seek out a farmer’s market near you and see if you don’t fall madly in love…
Speaking of mad love, I recently took a little outing, on a (cold) early spring day, to Green Door Gourmet here in Nashville. Green Door Gourmet is a 350 acre organic farm, country store, and event venue in Nashville, TN. They grow a wide variety of fruits, flowers, veggies, and herbs using holistic methods. Their Local Farm Box program and on-farm store provides customers with the “absolute best direct-from-the-field-produce.” This place was like heaven. I was there before a single seedling had been transplanted into the soil; before any flowers were blooming; while trees were still bare…and it was breathtaking. I filled my basket with local kale, mushrooms, eggs, and winter kraut made in house by the chef at Green Door. Shelves of local honey, specialtyjams, and locally made offerings of every kind filled the store. If the weather had been warmer, I would have had lunch on the porch :-) Take a peek at their website to see what all they offer, from weddings, to field trips, cooking classes, and more. I can’t wait to take my son strawberry picking!