One of the greatest thing about living in Maine is the astounding number of small farms and farmer’s markets we have. One of the great things I’ve learned about eating a lot more vegetarian foods is how readily available good and local produce is available. In at least every vegetarian meal I make I try to have at least one local ingredient. Not only is the food healthy but it’s sustainable and helping my local economy.
One of the other benefits of buying things locally is that I get to meet the people responsible for producing my food. I get to talk with them about how to find the best quality produce and hear about ways to prepare them that I may not have known before. Tonight, when I make my vegetarian burritos, all of the vegetables that will go into it (other than the black beans) were grown within 50 miles of my home. The beef that my family will be putting in their food came from a farm that we support right here in our town. I know the people responsible for it and I’ve personally seen the cows that eventually become our food (though I don’t eat them anymore they are quite tasty).
In many towns and areas there are farmer’s markets and ways to get locally produced produce. Sometimes you have to pay a little more for it but when was the last time you spoke to the person who grew the head of garlic your buying for your dinner? When was the last time you got to meet the person responsible for the zucchini that will be on your plate this week in order to find out how to pick out the best ones? I have an amazing blueberry balsamic vinegar that I put on salads that I found because I had the chance to meet the woman who makes it. We had a great discussion about her methodology and why she does it. It’s a lot of work and she’s absolutely passionate about what she does and that passion is contagious. I love to get spinach from a farm that’s in the next town north of us. It’s the freshest and best tasting spinach I’ve ever had. The farm responsible for that is a family affair and they even have their kids helping out to create some great tasting food. Do some digging around and see if you can find who your local farmers are, you’ll be happy that you did. They love what they do and they are happy to share it with anyone willing to listen. The food is better, and better for you (even if it’s not healthier it will make you feel better knowing that you’ve been giving back to your community). When you meet them, tell them I sent you.