Friday, September 30, 2011

Broadening My Local Food Horizons

Yesterday my eyes were opened wide to a brand new food world. It was almost like I had been living in an M. Night Shyamalan’s version of a food “Village,” and I had no idea what was on the other side. The best, and most shocking part of this story, is the new world was not too far from my backyard.

My day job took me to Courtney Farms, where we were shooting an educational video series about Kentucky farms, farmers and food. This farm, which recently decided to grow vegetables to replace several tobacco acres, was our first stop for the series. They are growing about 100 different vegetable varieties they sell through CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares and to wholesale markets.

Can you believe it? 100 different types! I think I may eat less than 30 different vegetables on a regular basis. My daughter Eden was able to visit the farm with me, and she also was amazed at the variety. We saw patty pan squash, acorn squash, winter squash, Brussels sprouts, starburst squash, zephyr squash, eggplant, purple peppers, apricot peppers (which were absolutely fabulous, by the way) and more. That was just what had been harvested that morning. In the field we saw Swiss chard, green beans, spinach, radishes and many, many more. I wondered what kind of tizzy the teenage grocery clerk would have been in if I wandered through his/her lane with such fare.

I had the chance to meet and talk with Mary Courtney a couple times before, but this is the first time I was really able to see what she produced. I remembered that she had told me that she and her family will eat the raw vegetables straight out of the field, and my daughter and I were able to do that, too. In fact, Eden almost ate an entire cucumber and was easily coerced into trying one of those sweet apricot peppers. The best part is we were sent home with an assortment of the goodies, and I can’t wait to find recipes so we can enjoy them.

Having been a nearly 100% buy-from-the-grocery-store-chain kind of lady due to convenience and my location, I can now tell you I will definitely be eating more of this fabulous food in the future. If I can’t figure out how to grow my own in the garden I have planned for next year, I will definitely be giving Mary a call. The taste and freshness of her veggies was beyond compare.

But don’t despair, farmers across the U.S. and outside our borders. I will still need you come the first killing Kentucky frost. I have not yet learned the fine art of canning, and I still want my weekly supply of bananas and grapefruits.

You may also be interested in the interview I had with Mary about their production practices – “Why I don’t buy organic, most of the time.”

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