Today I want to share with you the amazing experience I had a the 2017 Farm and Food Leadership conference in McKinney, Texas, hosted by Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA). FARFA is a national organization that supports independent family farmers and is working to protect the food supply for American consumers.
It was two full days of exciting information which appealed to chefs, farmers and food lovers but really can apply to everyone. In the conference we touched on a variety of topics like climate change, farmer’s markets, living a farm to table lifestyle, genetically modified organisms (GMO) but the overall theme was consistent throughout: getting better connected to our food and learning where it comes from will lead us to more delicious and healthy future.
I’m excited to share some of the information with you because I believe that we can help make a positive change. Farmers are part of the backbone of America but their jobs do not come without challenges? The conference spotlighted the incredible work of our local farmers and their great contributions to the economy but also to our lives through every meal we eat. So if these farmers are so important to us what do we need to know to help them?
- Awareness of the crazy weather patters can help manage our expectations of what local food is available. We are accustomed to seeing anything that we want at the grocery store but much of that produce is trucked in from thousands of miles away and just is not as fresh or nutrient dense.
- Each season in our area has a variety of produce that grows naturally and when we plan our menus using those ingredients we will see an immediate improvement in our health and the quality of our cooking. Remember the first key to cooking a good dish is using the best ingredients!
- Culture is making eating healthy and local easier all the time. Most cities now have at least one farmers market to visit and visiting that farmers market will get you connected with your community and give you a great insight into where your food really comes from and begin to understand what challenges your local farmers encounter.
- Farming is hard labor and our farmers do it with great pride. When we see prices at farmers markets that are a little more it might be easy to ask yourself why is that ingredient so expensive but a better question might be how and why are the supermarkets selling them so cheap.
- Talking to the vendors at the farmers markets on how to prepare the food they are selling is a great resource! There are also so many books out there that will inspire you to use the ingredients you find in season at your market. I love “Cooking from the Farmers’ Market” by Jodi Liano & Tasha DeSerio
- Challenge yourself and I will challenge myself to know where my food is coming from. You will find that learning where you food comes from will help you create amazing food but you’ll also end up cultivating wonderful friendships within your community too!
I strongly believe if we all take action as consumers to understand more about the food we are eating and sharing with our family and friends, we will create a ripple that will impact our community and our environment in incredible ways. Eating local and getting to know our neighbors, teaching our children about food and setting examples on a healthy relationship with food is going to put us on a path to LOVING food and experiencing the joy of food again.