The New Kansas Cookbook (University Press of Kansas, 2016) by Frank and Jayni Carey compiles recipes built from the agriculture local to Kansas. The cookbook includes recipes from top local restaurants as well as original recipes submitted by Kansans. The Careys have been cooking together since they met and have published two cookbooks together. The following excerpt discusses the benefits of buying food locally.
Are you concerned about where your food comes from? Do you seek out fresh, seasonal, locally grown produce, meats, and other foods? Chances are you are well on your way to becoming a locavore.
What is a locavore, exactly? The root of the term lies in the word “local.” It means being conscious of the distance between where food is produced and where it is consumed. A locavore is a person who strives to eat foods grown and produced within a one hundred-mile radius, though the actual distance is determined by what is realistic for you.
It’s not only about distance. It’s also about economics and sustainability. Foods on North American plates may travel thousands of miles from farm to fork. Shipping foods over long distances requires more fuel for transportation (consider the air pollution), while buying products close to home supports local farmers and ranchers, builds com- munity, and helps the local economy. Buying from local farmers allows them to experiment with new varieties of fruits and vegetables better suited to the climate and local environment. Building a local market for their meats allows ranchers to raise their animals in an environmentally sound way.
Buying locally ensures that foods will be fresher and more nutritious. Local produce doesn’t have to stand up to the rigors of shipping. When grown nearby, melons are allowed more time to ripen on the vine, and corn tastes sweeter when picked the day you eat it. Compare a ripe tomato or a ripe peach found at a farmers’ market to those shipped
from far away. Does the flavor seem distant, or does it taste like home?
Becoming a locavore is not an all-or-nothing commitment. There are many ways you can start incorporating locavore practices into your lifestyle.
Plant a small backyard garden. Your children can see where fruits and vegetables come from and experience the thrill of watching the garden grow.
Shop at your local farmers’ market and get to know who is growing your food. It is comforting to be acquainted with these folks to learn about the care taken to ensure the very best products.
Sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and enjoy the opportunity to sample a wide variety of local foods.
Visit “you-pick” farms and pick, pluck, or dig your own fruits and vegetables at the height of their seasonal goodness.
Many supermarkets now offer a whole foods section. Check it out and ask about the origins of the products. You may be surprised to find what local and organic products are available.
Dine at restaurants that take pride in purchasing locally sourced foods. It’s trending that many chefs seek out the best local products and often collaborate with their purveyors to grow and raise fruits, vegetables, and meats that inspire their creative menus.
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