What I Ate For Dinner

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Last night I ate a salad of radishes, field greens, and asparagus. The ingredients never sat in a grocery store. Less than 2 days ago they were still stuck in the ground.

I'm one of thousands of Americans who support local farms as a member of a Community Supported Agriculture program. I pay for a membership in Tait Farm, an organic farm in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania. In exchange for my membership, I get a weekly allotment, or “share,” of freshly picked produce. Every Tuesday I load my kids into the car to collect my bounty. The hardworking, enthusiastic farmers greet me at the barn, armed with recipes for how to prepare bok choy and collard greens.

I believe in buying locally grown or produced food. My version of comfort food? When the people who grew the strawberries and spinach I’m feeding my kids are the same people who hold my daughter or talk super heroes with my son while I load everything into the car. The grocery store employees smile at my kids, but they can’t vouch for food grown thousands of miles away.

My passion for local food took root in New York City, where my backyard consisted of concrete and skyscrapers. One day I walked through a farmer’s market and watched people wait in line for 10 minutes for a freshly picked apple. I bought one myself and realized after one bite that the shiny, perfectly shaped apples on the grocery store shelves were imposters. Before long I was buying as much produce as I could stick in a stroller without suffocating a two-year-old.

Now that I live in farm country I buy most of my food from my neighbors. I buy milk from Meyer Dairy and my beer from Otto’s. Both are in State College. I get my eggs from Over the Moon Farm in Rebersburg. And my bread comes from Gemelli Bakery in State College. Once, after I'd been on a gluten-free diet in an attempt to cure a sinus infection, I bought some freshly baked ciabatta for a dinner party. It smelled so good, I pulled off the road and devoured the loaf myself. Gemelli is the reason I'll always have a stuffy nose.

My belief in locally produced food has now led me to a new endeavor. Together with some friends I started Homegrown Happy Valley. It’s a website that provides our neighbors with news and trends related to local farms, restaurants, and retail shops. Every night after we tuck our children in, my fellow Homegrown moms and I run to our computers and fire off spirited e-mails about local, home-delivered chickens and rhubarb crisp recipes. I know some of my friends and family think I'm crazy. Are you running ads? Charging for content? Well, no, I stammer, I’m not making any money; it's just…I believe in locally grown food.

My friends and I simply want to help promote the farms and businesses so they won't close their doors. Our dinner plates depend on it.

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