Wednesday, April 27, 2011

From Annie Pais' blog: a marvelous summary of why buying local is the best path to follow

Hi Everyone:

I'm encouraged to hear from so many of you who are growing food in your yards!
I have a wonderful garden this year and am sharing an abundance of veggies!
The benefits of edible gardening-sustainable agriculture are just astounding.
We have all of the ingredients for developing sustainable food production here.
Doing so would boost our economy in several ways and offer a very basic safety protection
for our county.

Just think about these many and varied benefits:

Our Health-
*Eating local and seasonally offers year round produce at the peak of its nutritional cycle.
*Eating fresh-local means you benefit from produce picked and eaten before the nutrients are gone.
Its amazing how different they taste! (I eat by color too- a creative way to balance nutrition!)
*Gardening is good for you- body, mind and soul. It can be a fun, family project to plant and grow a small plot, raised bed or even several large containers on a balcony or patio. Kids love it- and they'll understand where food comes from.

Saves Money-
*Organic is affordable when its local. Organic produce in the stores can be expensive- but its affordable at our many Farmer's Markets, U-Pick It farms and at Wards Supermarket. Organic is more important than we even know- and gardening organically is very doable- trust me.
*The increase in oil-gas prices is now really adding to the cost of the food-when its trucked in.
*Here's my latest example: Growing green and wax beans- for the price of 2 seed packages- approx. $4. I have been enjoying fresh, wonderful string beans and wax beans for weeks- and with no end in sight! Its actually extraordinary how many beans are being produced and how easily! The difference in cost vs what I'd pay for the same amount of vegetables is off the charts in savings.
(See my latest favorite recipe at the end.)

Sustainability is so smart-
Ok, here's the kicker- sustainability is power. Its powerful to be independent. Growing our ability to feed ourselves is one of the most aware, innovative things we can do. Being prepared to self-feed our county is something our leaders have been thinking about for years!
Everything we can do to support growing and eating local food is of prime importance.
This kind of local power should be and needs to be something each and every one of us is involved with.

Growing food, producing local food products, eating locally, developing and supporting restaurants that buy local, creating a permanent Farmer's Market store, using our yards to grow fruit and nut trees, edible landscapes and produce gardens is a way of making money and keeping it here- where it can keep cycling to support our overall, local economy.
This translates to dollars, jobs, and economic well being.
Check out and support Blue Oven Kitchens, a future incubator kitchen where we'll be able to rent a certified kitchen to produce products for use and distribution-

Culinary Tourism-
Eating out? Please choose a local restaurant that supports and buys from local farmers.
The more we patronize local restaurants that do buy from local farms- the more establishments will open and the more we'll become known for this delectable asset!
We just finished a preliminary study, (paid for with a grant from Visit Florida) on developing Culinary Tourism here in Alachua County. This is silly- its so doable! And dumb not to...
We have a year round growing season, we produce much higher quality produce, grass fed meat, free range poultry and eggs, nuts, citrus, etc, etc. than almost every other state. We should be tapping niche markets to bring visitors here by offering a wide range of culinary tours, programs, cook offs, and workshops!!! The culinary tourism market also merges love of food with culture-art, music and performance.
Think Tuscany or Napa Valley.

When kids garden, they are healthier. Not just during school hours but in their families and community. Not just physically but emotionally. And Not just for their school years but forever. Its a gross neglect that each of our schools isn't producing its own food on a large scale with our students fully participating.- and creating total curriculum around food production....powered by solar and watered by rain water catchment- etc.
Check out

Sustainability is so economically, environmentally and educationally smart.
Its also one of those essential indicators used by those we seek to attract here-
People now know to check out a community's sustainable initiatives, when deciding where to locate.

I hope I've succeeded in inspiring and engaging you.
For the month of May- during this eat local month-
We want your stories.
Send us stories about your gardens, your education programs, your favorite local products, your favorite local restaurants, etc.
Anything goes. We'll create ways to use your stories on our website and in materials.

Thanks Everyone.
Here's my recipe for Annie's Green Beans- two ways!
Send me your bean and summer squash recipes please!

I lb. green string beans or waxed beans
Snap the ends and steam for 3-4 minutes.

In a roasting pan combine:
1 Florida Sweet Onion- large diced
4 cloves of garlic whole
1 pint cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes halved
(1 butternut squash, peeled and diced into bite sized pieces- optional but great.)

drizzle olive oil over the veggies and add salt and pepper to taste-
toss to coat fully-
Roast in a 400* oven for 30-40 min. or until tender and beginning to caramelize.

In a serving bowl combine the steamed green beans with the roasted veggies
and add 2-4 ounces goat, feta or parmesan cheese and shredded basil.

You can serve this two ways- hot as it is or cooled over salad greens with a simple vinaigrette dressing.

For much more information and yummy recipes, check out:
Hogtown Homegrown

Happy Eating Everyone and please do participate, support and initiate these great endeavors.

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