How do you describe food that is Fresh from the Farm? A few thoughts that come to my mind are FABULOUS, INSPIRING, NUTRITIONALLY DENSE, APPEALING, DELICIOUS, HEALTHY, EASY to PREPARE, ECONOMICAL, COMFORTING, and FULFILLING. Whether I am speaking to groups through Sterling Health and Wellness or working with our patients and clients at MTM Services, I refer to the healing and healthy effects of eating and preparing great quality foods farm to table. Most of the people we work with agree that the fresher the food, the better it tastes and the better they feel after eating it. Many people also say that they feel frustrated with the conflicting information that they hear regarding which foods are healthy, what foods need to be organic, how to afford organic or local foods and where to find locally grown foods. We will address these questions over the next few weeks and provide suggestions for easy, delicious ways to prepare your farm fresh food.
We frequently hear that knowing one’s farmer and having a connection to that farm helps to know one’s food. Ultimately, growing our own food is considered optimal by many. Not all of us have the space, time, knowledge , or frankly, ability to succeed at that endeavor. Thankfully, we have many farmers in our community who can help those of us who want it fresh, but are gardening challenged. I am extremely happy to provide you the recently released ASAN (Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network) FOOD &FARM GUIDE for the Huntsville area. This guide highlights most of the farms and growers of Alabama and restaurants that use local produce. It provides information on Farmers Markets and a listing of informative links. As stated in the ASAN guide:
“We believe that Alabama families deserve really good, freshly farmed local food, whether purchased directly from farms or eaten at a restaurant.To that end, we offer this series of Food and Farm Guides, which highlights the farms and growers of Alabama, as well as the restaurants serving local produce. In addition to the great taste and the satisfaction of knowing where your food comes from, locally grown food offers health benefits over the highly processed and conveniently fast foods that have been shown to contribute to the near epidemic of obesity we are seeing, especially in Alabama’s precious children. When you purchase standard supermarket or fast food fare, you send your money out of the community and out of the state. When you choose to buy locally grown meats and produce, you support local employment and local businesses of all kinds, while enhancing the governmental tax base. Not all food from sources listed in this guide are strictly or certifiably “organic,” but all meet strict standards of quality and safety; and for families wanting the added assurance of quality, the guide does indicate which farms and restaurants offer USDA certified organic or Certified Naturally Grown™ food. Healthy Farms, Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities!”
Peruse this site to find farmers, markets, restaurants, etc. that meet your needs and suit your requirements. Good friends and and providers of some of the food for my family are Charles and Laura Ritch of Goose Pond Farm. Charles has suggested to me that getting local and fresh food does not necessarily guarantee that it will meet my criteria. He has told me to “really ” talk with my farmers and ask the specific questions regarding how the fruits and vegetables are grown, how the soil is prepared, how the animals are fed, sheltered and cared for. He has encouraged me to visit the farms for a behind the scenes view. AND he has suggested that people should visit the farms on days other than tour days to get a REAL view of how the farm is run. Granted, the farmers can’t always stop and chitchat with us (running a farm can be a grueling task!) ; however, we can at least see if life on the farm appears to be as we have been told it is.
I would like to thank Karen Wynne for the ASAN link. She serves with me on the North Alabama Food Policy Council, another excellent source for food security and availablity information.
Eating is more than merely a way to provide energy for the body; it is an experience that nurtures our bodies, minds, and spirits. Eating locally grown foods provides more than healthy fare for our bodies; it helps to support healthy farms and create healthy communities. Locally grown and healthily prepared foods are truly a form of SUPERFOODS. I look forward to sharing food experiences, research, and information with you. I invite you to share some of your favorite food memories, healthy recipes, and shopping or cooking tips. Ask questions; we will look to the experts for answers. When we combine our knowledge and ideas, the synergy magnifies the positive results and the experience. I look forward to learning with you.
Have a great week!