Written for the River Current publication
Last night I stopped at a local produce stand to pick up fresh strawberries for our dinner. I knew how much the strawberries would cost, (because I had purchased some of the delicious gems just the week before) so grabbed the exact change out of my wallet and hurried up to the stand.
What I didn’t know, was how easily I would be tempted by all of the other fresh produce that was waiting there for me under the tent. Before I knew it, (and with the help of two convincing salesmen) I had more than I could carry…and of course was heading back to the car for more money.
This is the season my friends when we can (and should) delight in eating fresh, local produce. What’s the big deal in buying local, you might ask? Well to name a few…eating local foods is better for you, boosts local economy, is better for the environment, and (most importantly) is crazy delicious!
Local food is fresher and tastes so much better than food shipped long distances from other states or countries. By choosing local produce at farm stands, farmers markets and pick-your-own farms, you pay for taste, not transportation and packaging. Local farmers can offer produce that is bred for taste and freshness, rather than for shipping and long shelf life. The green beans that I purchased last night had just been picked earlier that day; you can’t get any fresher than that! You think you can't taste the difference between lettuce picked yesterday and lettuce picked last week, factory-washed, and sealed in plastic? Do a taste-test at home. I'm betting you can.
By buying foods grown and raised closer to where you live, you help maintain farmland and green space in your area. The fewer steps there are between your food and your table, the less chance there is of contamination.
I had a great time chatting with the men at the produce stand, as they shared which produce would soon be out of season and what would be coming soon from local farmers. They even offered for me to try something that I had never heard of before; a chocolate tomato. They chuckled as I hesitantly popped it into my mouth and then smiled as I enjoyed the flavors. You won’t find someone inviting you to do that at a large grocery store.
Knowing where your food is from, connects you to the people who raise and grow it. When you see a local produce stand, stop in and be delighted in what they have to offer. I stopped at Martin’s Landscaping heading south on 68 in Bellefontaine. Conveniently they are open until 6, which works perfectly for those of us who are hustling home from work and ready for some fresh produce to enjoy with our dinner.
One of their items that caught my eye, was what the guys called; Dinner In-A-Box. The box was piled high with freshly picked green beans, red skin potatoes, three small fresh onions and two garlic cloves. This combination quickly reminded me of a summer meal that my mother used to make. I purchased their Dinner In-A-Box and simmered it along with a good sized slice of ham for dinner tonight. It was delicious; better than I even remembered from my childhood. Maybe my taste buds have changed or maybe it was just the delight in the freshness of it all. Hello summer, I can’t wait to enjoy the flavorful foods you have to offer!