This rainy Hoosier summer is coming to an end and there is not better time to support your local farmer, baker, chef than eating local. Recently I had a chance to chat with Kyle Becker of Becker Farms about how the “eating local” movement has impacted his business. His perspective was eye opening!

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The phrase “eat local” has become the new hot trend in a movement of consumers gaining greater awareness of the food we choose to serve to our families. Purchasing fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and eggs from a local farmers market or dining at a small local farm to table restaurant helps to lower our carbon footprint, support the family farm and keep money in our local economy. But Kyle shared how he has seen a dramatic decrease in the business his family does at the 3 local farmer’s markets over the past two years. “Look at the Earth Fare, Fresh Market, Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme that are on every corner. Those weren’t there 2 years ago.” We went on to discuss how large chain grocery stores can sell grass fed beef at less than $5 a pound by importing beef from areas of the world where cows can graze year round like Australia. But many consumers believe that buying that beef at the grocery store is eating local and Kyle has felt the effect on his business.

Kyle and I spent a good bit of time talking about the need to educate consumers about where their food comes from. How is it grown? What are living conditions where livestock are being raised? What types of pest control practices are used on their crops? Does free range mean animals can graze on open acres or they have access to a single door from a large crowded barn?  I can only speak from personal experience but trying to ask large chain grocery stores these questions proved nearly impossible! Much easier to have a one on one conversation with our local farmers.

Tips for Eating Local

  1. Start simple. Purchase some of your weekly groceries direct from a local farmer. The best selling items from Becker Farm are well loved favorites – whole chickens, bacon and hamburger or veggies such as asparagus in the spring or zucchini and beets in the summer. Start with a small step and decide to buy your meat and vegetables for one meal from a local farmer                                                                                                          marketscore

2. Learn the lingo. Organic, non gmo, cage free, humanely raised are splashed all over the packaging of many food products now. Educate yourself on what they mean. Not sure where to start? Visit a farmer’s market and ask! As I shared in my earlier farmer’s market post, most farmers are more than willing to take time and answer questions. This is their craft and they are passionate to share that with others.

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3. Host an eat local dinner party. My best friend, Annie, shared her amazing idea and it is brilliant! . Invite a group of friends over for a pitch in dinner. Ask each person to bring a dish to share the only caveat is that it must be local.  Ideas could be a dish prepared from local meats, vegetables from a backyard garden or a dessert from a local bakery. Adults could enjoy local wines or a frosty pint of local craft beer. I can picture a table full of beautiful locally grown food! When our country house is finished this will be top on my list of things to organize!

4. Plant a garden! Nothing more “local” than food you grow in your backyard!

5. Find local farm to table restaurants. Resources like Open Table or Edible Magazine can help you to find restaurants that support local farmers. I have my list of must visit restaurants that I will be sharing soon and I found most in the pages of Edible Indy!

For all of my local readers, Kyle and Emily Becker have an incredible opportunity available this coming weekend. They are hosting an open house at their farm in Mooreland, Indiana. You can find more information about the event here on their website. Our family went last year and it was an incredible experience for us all to see what true free range, humanely raised, local food looks like. My son was in his element! We will be there and hope to see some of you!!!

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Kyle showing Noah a chicken!

What would you bring to a “eat local” dinner party?

Share your favorite farm to table restaurant

I would love to hear from you!!