|Sunny Cedars Farm|
|West Ridge Farms - Premium Beef|
When I was growing up, my mother always cooked from scratch. I didn't know what a box cake mix was until I was a young adult because we simply never had them in our house. Oh, of course, my mother did take some shortcuts, but really not very many. She and my dad both cooked; she more simply, he liked to experiment with wine in foods, so something new was always coming out to be served ... some we liked, some we didn't, and some were "keepers" I make to this day ... and we always sat down to dinner together ... always at the dinner table and always, always, always as a family. This, I know, is what made a tremendous impact on me and how I wanted to raise and feed my family.
|Wishbone Heritage Farms|
I began this journey to "source our food" from local farms and markets a few years ago. Why? Because I was tired of not knowing what was in our food. This stemmed from some things I'd seen via the Internet, but I was determined to find out for myself what this "just eat real food" business was all about.
|Seldom Rest Farm|
The very first time I ventured to a local farmer's market just blew me away. To see all that local, fresh produce and meet some of the farmers providing it was so awesome to me. Of course, you still need to do your homework and ask questions of the farmers you buy from ... do you use conventional or organic practices? In other words, do you spray with pesticides, or do you grow your food organically? Are you certified organic, or just have organic practices in place?
|Hill Creek Farms - Hartsville|
In fairness, most small farms can not be certified organic due to the substantial cost, but if they are using organic practices, that's all I need. Most all farmer's are more than happy to share their farming philosophies and practices with you if you simply ask. Don't like what you hear from one farmer, go to another, it's that easy!
|Turkey Creek Bee Farm|
Next, I began touring some local farms with a few like-minded friends who were also curious about today's farming practices. It's been fun, and educational and I've met some of the best people you'd ever want to know!
And you don't always have to live "high
And you don't always have to live "high
off the hog" as the saying goes, buying the most expensive, premium cuts of meat. Pork shanks, as an example, are often overlooked, but when prepared properly as German Schweinshaxe or Pork Osso Bucco, they are delicious. Goat meat is also growing in popularity and is fairly inexpensive to purchase, as is ground chicken, turkey, or lamb you can use instead of ground beef in almost any dish.
|Carolina Bay Farms|
The other thing we've discovered is we eat less of the meat because it's more satisfying. And believe me, my husband is a total carnivore. We used to cook bone-in chicken breasts and everyone would have their own. Now we cut the breasts in half (making 2 into 4 pieces) or grill them and slice the meat off one chicken breast for dinner, and use the other one for sandwiches, chicken salad, or a casserole another day.
|Old McCaskills Farm|
With beef we have discovered lessor popular cuts such as Skirt Steak and Hanger Steak. Both are delicious, and very tender, again when prepared properly.
|Paradise Acres Farm|
I'm proud to say I haven't bought meat, produce, or dairy products (butter, milk, cheese) in the grocery store for over a year now, and while it did take me more than 2 years to get there, I'm glad I did.
Recently some friends purchased meat products at a local farm for the first time and told me "More people just need to try it, they would really like it too. To be honest, I was a little skeptical at first about trying all grass-fed meat, but not anymore. I did a price comparison for chuck roast at the grocery store today and the difference was less than $5 for the same weight."
I'm happy "I shop local" and support my local economy. Every bit of money spent with a local family farm, market or foods store helps them continue to do what they do best ... provide quality products for you and I to enjoy, and I say that's a win-win!
For more information about our food system, or to simply educate yourself, check out this video:
Until next time,
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