Hip Mom Eats Local
Eating local can be an affordable, delicious culinary adventure.
’ll admit, it took me a long time to become intrigued with the whole organic, “eat local” food movement. For a while, my objection was the price: yeah, yeah, those strawberries might be coated with arsenic and give me 10 kinds of cancer, but if I bought $8 strawberries my husband would hire a hit man, so I’d be dead anyway! And then later, I’d be happy if my kids ate any kind of fruit, let alone organic — at least some non-organic broccoli wasn’t an Oreo. But, as I became a bit more educated, I realized that organic, particularly local, produce really is good for you. It hasn’t had to travel far, so it retains much more nutrients, and it tastes better too.
So, when I go to a mom’s luncheon for my son’s high school, I’m delighted to find it’s hosted by Ashley Neal of Local Farm OK, a company which delivers fresh, healthy, local produce right to your doorstep. Ashley is lovely and warm; don’t be intimidated by the fact that she is tall, blonde and gorgeous (She says she’s in her 40s, but doesn’t look a day over 30 – reason enough to investigate this farm to table stuff!) She makes us moms a delicious salad from her family’s farm in Glenpool, Sage Farms, where they grow lettuce using technology called “aeroponics” and other produce. Perhaps you’ve seen those cool plant-growing towers? That’s aeroponics , and it’s how Sage Farms grows lettuce, herbs and leafy greens that contain more nutrients than traditionally-grown products. Think healthier vegetables with a much better taste! There is no use of traditional fertilizers such as animal manure, so less risk of diseases like E. Coli. Plus, with aeroponics, there is dramatically less water used, a great win for the environment.
Now, a confession. I first tried Local Farm OK last summer. And, while I was duly impressed with the quality produce, it seemed like so much lettuce! All that foliage made me want to cry, because I didn’t think anyone else would eat it except me, and I would have to watch this beautiful green loveliness rot. It was also a crazy time in my life. We thought we might be moving (we didn’t), my son was starting high school, my other kids were their usual ornery selves, and my husband was working a lot, so, in the end, I cancelled my subscription and just kept up my usual depressing Walmart rotation.
But, when I see what a scrumptious meal that I can make with all this great produce, I am re-inspired. Ashley makes a salad with a balsamic, citrus vinaigrette (the recipe is on the website localfarmok.com). Well, now I know what to do with all that lettuce — it is the best salad I’ve ever eaten.
And now Local Farm OK offers other from local ranchers and producers. We try a filet of “kobe-style” beef from the prestigious Wagyu species of cattle from Prime Plus Cattle right here in Oklahoma. I’ve never been a huge steak person, but I am the first to sneak back for seconds. We also have a heavenly assortment of cheeses from Lovera’s market in Krebs, this authentic pocket of Italy serendipitously placed in southeast Oklahoma. We round out the meal with some delicious Kombucha (surely you’ve heard about this fermented tea which is supposed to promote healthy gut bacteria) from Big Oak Kombucha in Oklahoma City. Big Oak Kombucha is the creation of Matthew Zitterkob, a longtime kombucha-brewer and advocate for sustainability and local ingredients. He has been home-brewing many varieties of kombucha for years, and uses organic or locally-sourced ingredients like prickly pear, ginger and lime. These drinks are sublime – naughty me can’t help but think what great mixers they would be – cocktails with probiotics! Win-win!
My lunch is so ambrosial I restart my subscription right when I get home. You can choose from the farm bag subscription – weekly (just $15.99) or every other week ($17.99). That is a lot of produce bang for your buck! Your bag always comes on the same day of the week — straight from the farm — so you can plan accordingly (something that eluded me during my tough summer). The produce comes in a sturdy, insulated bag; you simply remove the plastic liner and place it in your fridge. The produce should last up to two weeks. But besides the farm bag, I order all kinds of local deliciousness: the Wagyu beef, some bacon, jalapeno and cheddar bratwurst, the fabulous Kombucha sampler, cheese from Lovera’s for my cheese-crazy son, salsa, honey — all sorts of locally-sourced delights.
Everything arrives on a Thursday, which is perfect because by that point in the week I usually have no food. And everything both looks – and tastes – sublime. The steak is fabulous (somehow I don’t wreck it), the bacon perfect (of course), and the butter meltingly lovely (although two of my kids deem it “too yellow” and won’t go near it – oy!). And now that I know what to do with the lettuce, we all enjoy different salads for over a week. Ashley also posts recipes to the website that use the week’s offerings. It’s almost like I have a farm right outside my door (thankfully with no animals, manure or work I have to do).
Another big player in the farm-to-table movement here in Tulsa is Scissortail Farms. Scissortail Farms, located in west Tulsa, also uses aeroponics to grow lettuces and herbs. Scissortail Farms supplies local restaurants such as Doc’s, Stonehorse Café, Tallgrass Prairie Table, and La Villa at the Philbrook. You can also buy directly from the farm, but you have to call and schlep out there — which I did! I forced myself out of my comfortable little two-mile radius and enter a surprisingly bucolic stretch of west Tulsa farmland — I even pass a vineyard! Scissortail’s CEO, John Sulton, shows me the luscious aeroponic greenhouse. It both looks and smells gorgeous, sort of like stepping into a verdant Jo Malone cologne. You can find their beautiful herbs and produce at Reasor’s. Look for the Scissortail Farm label and know you are getting the real deal.
Of course, you can always go to a farmer’s market to get comparable produce and locally-grown delights, but I suspect for most of you – like me – it’s hard to squeeze in a trip like that very often when you have 7000 kiddie things to do in any given day. With all these local opportunities to eat organic, healthy local produce for a good price, I really don’t have any more excuses. Now to convince my lovely children that they really do like Swiss chard…I’m sure Ashley will help with a recipe to fool them!