As you bite into your favorite meal, you don’t want to taste anything short of delicious. Seared vegetables cooked just right, bursting with flavor and smooth umami, or maybe that perfectly tender, juicy steak that offers a surprise to your taste buds as they sense the grilled caramelized crust with a hint of a coffee rub. How could you forget a beautiful dessert that followed your favorite meal? The old saying “you can’t beat mom’s home-grown cooking” resonates with all of us. Everyone can enjoy a delicious meal. The first step in that process is to use superior ingredients, but how?
I believe the answer lies in fresh, locally grown food. Austin Stanton and his family operate what claims to be the largest free-range chicken operation in the United States. Stanton, now in his final year of college, started selling eggs with his brother at the Columbia Famers Market in 2007. Since then, they have expanded and supply University of Missouri Dinning Services, local nursing homes, and many grocery stores including Hy-Vee, with fresh eggs. The reason people like local eggs depends on the person.
“Some people like them for eating healthy, while others like to be connected to the producer and the farm,” Stanton said. “When dealing with smaller producers, customers can take up their issues directly with the owners, and that gives them reassurance and establishes trust when dealing with the companies.”
As a native of Columbia that likes to know about my food, I was intrigued to learn there are restaurants in Columbia that source locally produced food. I quickly did a search to find other restaurants. As it turns out, there are many restaurants around Columbia that try to source food locally. I believe this is something that businesses should promote and leverage in their marketing strategies. However, an aspect the consumers must understand about locally grown food is that it is seasonal. Items such as meats, eggs, and canned foods can be sourced year-round, but many fresh greens and produce are only available during the spring, summer, and fall. A restaurant will most likely have to outsource food during non-growing seasons, but despite this, eating locally is still important.
According to Johnna Swineford, the owner of Viandel Vineyard, sourcing locally has many benefits for the restaurant, including getting to work with other small businesses.
“The service is fast and you can share their story,” Swineford said “There’s a pride in supporting local transactions even if it’s non-food related.”
Both Swineford and Stanton emphasized the importance of customers spending money locally. In return the small business owners then spend their money at other local businesses. This boosts the local economy, helps everyone and keeps the community thriving.
Benefits of eating locally should be noted by your taste buds. Immense flavor, crispiness, juiciness, and freshness are all things that you should expect from locally grown produce. The meals created in the restaurants using locally grown products are truly crafted from the heart of the community.