The last week of April is a special time for the culinary department at The Castlewood Senior Living Nixa, MO. In honor of Earth Month, we will be celebrating and embracing the Farm to Table concept. While the terminology is often overused, the idea is a basic one that stems from the days when the food you ate came from the farm you lived on or nearby. Practices may have changed but utilizing the produce and livestock from local farms and growers has many benefits. For example, did you know most produce loses nutrients within 24 hours of harvesting? Have you ever noticed how fresh meat is moister and more flavorful?
Farm to Table also helps strengthen the local economy by providing jobs and keeping money in the hands of businesses run by our neighbors and friends. It helps to build relationships between the farmer or rancher and the customer. Both sides benefit greatly from sourcing local items. If an item becomes scarce, or pricing becomes high, this valued relationship can be instrumental in helping us to continue to provide the exceptional food our residents have come to expect from us with minimal interruption.
The dish I’m making is meatloaf, southern style green beans with new potatoes, and fresh garden salad. The locally sourced items I will be using include ground beef, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, peppers, green beans, garlic cloves, lettuce, and eggs. These items were purchased from Charlie’s Produce and More https://www.facebook.com/charlie.herrell.3, Red Dirt Farms, and Local Friend Raising Chickens.
My dish is an example of love. I lost my mother this month and she is where I get my passion. Cooking and serving others were her love language, as is mine. I am making my dish in honor of her and the meals that we’d prepare together as I grew up. When I think of love, I think of “home cooked” and “home grown.” When I prepare a dish for someone, I like to know what their favorite childhood memories of things that their mother and grandmother prepared for them and that’s what I want to do, I want to create a moment that brings a smile to someone’s face because it rekindles that memory.
My childhood memories of eating local ingredients come from my own family garden. We were taught from a young age how to help plow the soil, “pick rock” from the turned-up ground, go through and harvest produce, pull weeds, and how to cook what we grew or can it for later. My mother was Italian and always fed us well.
Sustainable farming in our area assures people have food to eat or money from what they farm to live on. There are a lot of cattle farmers in our region.
For us, buy local isn’t just a bumper sticker. It should be embraced and promoted as much as possible. Even if you couldn’t be here to enjoy it with us, I hope you can enjoy the content included here and feel inspired to visit some of these local vendors!