April 24 • 10:43 AM

Eating locally feeds the spirit

May 09, 2007
Editor's note: To kick off the growing season and promote the benefits of eating locally grown food, 'farm girl' Teemie Eschenburg's columns will appear regularly throughout the spring and summer. Teemie, familiar to patrons of Almont's Farmer's Market, and her husband Randy Eschenburg operate a dairy farm in Almomt Twp.

As this 2007 growing season begins I'd like to challenge you to go local with your foods. Over the next few months this column will present 10 reasons why to buy local food. You'll be amazed at how simple and fulfilling this experience can be.

Number one: Locally grown food tastes better!

Food grown in your own community was probably picked within the last day or two. It's crisp, sweet and loaded with flavor. Produce flown or trucked in from California, Florida, Chile or Holland is quite understandably much older. Several studies have shown that the average distance food travels from farm to plate is 1,500 miles. In a week-long (or more) delay from harvest to dinner table, sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink and produce loses its vitality.

There is a movement happening across the nation and globally. People are seeking out better, fresher sources for their foods. They are seeking a more centered, peace-filled way of living, longing for 'back to basics' in their lives. People are tired of the breakneck pace of life and the bland fast foods leaving them feeling sluggish and void of fulfillment. This has been a long time coming and now folks are wanting to actually do something more than just talk about it. With this series of columns I hope to inspire you, along with giving you sources for buying or growing you own.

We would like to invite you to visit the local farmer's markets that will soon be opening, offering spring's finest in plants and foods. If you don't see something that you are looking for, ask your farmers where you can get it. They have one of the greatest networking systems available today. As the community supports these markets you'll find the variety of products will increase to meet your demands.

The Almont Farmers Market, est. 2001: Opening May 19 and 26, Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Open again July 7– October, Saturdays 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Imlay City Farmers Market, est. 2006: Opening June 1– October Thursdays, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Lapeer Farmers Market, est. 1991: Opening May 12– October, Wednes-days and Saturdays, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Ask the local grocery store to carry local foods as much as possible. Ask where they are getting their supply. Request and let it be known you want and deserve the finest, freshest foods available. Ask your local restaurants too.

Go direct to the farm /greenhouse Crooked Creek Dairy, Romeo Best Milk, fresh eggs and organic foods, J & M Farms Allenton, (you'll find some local grocers offer these farm fresh products too). Stop by the farms that have signs out offering farm fresh eggs, not Sunday morning please, home grown turkeys, lettuce, herbs and flowers.

Plant a small garden. Each season plantings bring forth a different variety of produce and many of the lettuce types can be planted right now and grown 12 months of the year with little effort. You'll find seeds available at our local American Tree and The Country Corner in Almont. You'll find working up a small corner of an existing flower bed to turn it into a salad garden can be so rewarding and a great stress buster.

The little time it takes to visit a farm stand, market, greenhouse or your own backyard will do your spirit good as you seek out sources to put fresh food on the table.

Here's a great way to start:

Simple, fresh spring salad.

Break up a head of romaine lettuce along with some red leaf. Sprinkle

with finely chopped fresh herbs, one teaspoon each; thyme, chives and rosemary.

Dressing blend: ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, squeeze ½ a fresh lemon, 1/3 cup of Dijon mustard. Blend with fork. It's ready for dipping or tossing.

Note: I often change up the salad fixings depending on what's seasonally available.

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