Farm to Table

Ridgway Farmers Market (Kathryn R, Burke)

Ridgway Farmers Market (Kathryn R, Burke)

[July 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage] By Kathryn R. Burke

HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES. No GMO. No MSG. No hormones. Gluten-free. Dairy-free. Sugar-free. Locally-sourced. Grass-fed. Organic. Colorado grown. Sound familiar? In SW Colorado—anywhere, really—healthy eating is becoming a popular pastime. Thank goodness.

Back in the pioneer days, when most of us lived on the farm, ‘healthy eating’ terms didn’t apply. Everything was home-grown, no chemicals added. We grew it and we ate it. As long as it was reasonably sanitary, it didn’t make us sick.

But then, the industrial replaced our agricultural base, and about in the 1950s, along came TV dinners, microwaves, plastic, fertilizers, and lots of packaged food. ‘Manufactured’ food, with additives and preservatives, and undigestible fillers. No wonder people got sick.

A whole industry grew to combat bad food and unhealthy eating. Lots of prescription medicine was prescribed. All manner of ‘fad’ diets came on line from ‘Atkins’ to the ‘Paleo’ … and more. A lot of money was made (and still is) with programs that sell measured, packaged foods to help you (pick one) lose weight, lower blood pressure, improve athletic ability, stay ‘heart healthy’, and more. As Dorothy would say in Oz, “Oh my!”

Not everybody bought into the packaged food program. There were people who new that sticking to a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and berries, and lean protein would (hopefully) keep them healthy.

We called them ‘hippies.’ You  know, the folks who ate sprouts and tofu and eschewed meat and potatoes, and wouldn’t eat packaged food even if they were starving.

That was then. This is now. Looks like a lot of us have joined the flower-power crowd and are heading the sprout route as well. Food that’s actually good for you—not just sprouts—fills more and more shelves at your favorite grocery store.

Yes, you can buy the good stuff at local farmers markets and specialty stores, but did you know that—OMG, really!—you can find it at Walmart, too! The chains, like Safeway and City Market, have entire sections devoted to locally-grown, healthy foods.

Well OK, you say, but I still want my junk food—those fast snacks with a crunch and a big fizzy drink. And, you can have them. Did you know there’s a brand called ‘Food Should Taste Good’? Try their sweet potato chips. Looking for salty? Read the label, buy the one that says ‘sea salt’,  and you’re on the right track. Carbonated drinks (that would be salt, again), can be enjoyed in moderation, but look for naturally sweetened, rather than ‘diet’ or ‘sugar-free’ which translates into a chemically-treated beverage. When in doubt, drink water. And no, it doesn’t have to come in a plastic bottle or have a ‘designer’ label. Plain old H2O from the tap  is still your best beverage bet.

Cooking, eating, serving, and sharing food is an important social exercise. It’s a community endeavor. From time immemorial, families and friends have gathered to share a meal.

Friendships are forged over food. Business deals concluded. Food is a celebrant activity. Think weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, reunions, company parties and picnics.

Best of all, if you don’t want to cook it, you can cater it, or enjoy eating out at our many restaurants which serve good food that tastes good and is good for you. Most of them also have take-out, so there’s no excuse for missing a good meal.

If  you do want to prepare your own, we  have farmers markets all summer long, and a couple ‘indoor’ markets all year long. You can also buy your protein directly from the source, like Kinikin. (They also serve sandwiches.)

Some establishments, like Spring Creek Chalet assisted living, have extensive gardens, grow their own produce, and even make honey from their own beehives. Home gardens are popular here, too. So, ‘farm to table’ or ‘ranch to fork’ needn’t be any more difficult than going to the farmers market, or plucking some kale from your own garden. But it’s still fun to go out with friends and experience the great food, with the ‘farm to table’ label, our local restaurants serve.

Captions

Above: Ridgway Farmers Market. Blue Grouse Bread, Norwood. Kinnikin Processing, Montrose. Buckhorn Gardens, Montrose Farmers Market. (Kathryn R. Burke)

Right: Ranch beef burger, True Grit Café. Colorado lamb pita pocket, The Vine Bistro. Roast Beef, The Stone House. Author’s salad with greens from Nina Rea’s garden. Chicken Citrus Salad, Light House Eatery. (Courtesy photos)