Sitting down with the family to enjoy a holiday meal is one of the great pleasures we experience at this time of the year. Relatives from far away may have joined us at the table and it is an opportunity for us to celebrate the holidays, our families and maybe even our local community.
As the turkey or ham is carved and bowls of peas, carrots and sweet potatoes are passed around the table, we toast each other with a glass of wine. While we enjoy the company of family and friends, we can also make sure we enjoy even more the fact that we have supported our local food producers.
What if the turkey, the vegetables and even the wine we serve during this holiday season were all produced locally? If that is the case, we have supported the local farmer and economy and are eating fresher, more nutritious food, all while making a small, conscious, but significant change.
Serving at least one locally-grown food at a holiday dinner is the goal of the Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition (GKCFPC) for citizens in the Kansas City area and beyond this season.
With its Eat Local For the Holidays campaign, the GKCFPC is encouraging everyone to support the local economy, sustainability and the environment by enjoying a locally produced food, ranging from the main course, vegetables or fruit to desert or drinks.
The benefits of eating local include fresher, more nutritious and varied food choices, while keeping money in the community and limiting the effect on the environment.
“The Eat Local For The Holidays campaign is a way for area residents to connect with locally-produced food, support regional farmers and enjoy a wide variety of delicious, local, seasonal foods in new recipes or in family favorites,” said Beth Low, director of the GKCFPC.
Among the foods that are fresh now in Kansas and Missouri are apples, pears, broccoli, carrots, peas, pumpkins, spinach, sweet potatoes and many others. Wine and cider are also being produced locally, along with many meats such as beef, pork and poultry.
“Eating local foods keeps your food dollars in the local economy, reduces your carbon footprint and increases the freshness of the foods you are eating,” Low said. She added that “it is good for your body, the environment and the local economy. It also tastes great.”
Not sure how to find locally produced food? There are a number of ways to access local foods, through farmers markets, grocery and healthy food stores and Kansas City area restaurants. Directories of a number of these outlets providing local foods are available at the Eat Local For the Holidays website at www.eatlocalkc.net.
At the website you’ll also have the opportunity to pledge to serve at least one locally grown food in holiday celebrations this season; and you can read about why it is important to eat local, view a list of foods that are in season in Kansas and Missouri, browse local food recipes, and find suggestions on how to get involved in creating a healthy local food system. Those who sign up to take the pledge at www.eatlocalkc.net by December 31 are entered in a drawing for local food prizes.
After enjoying a holiday dinner with local food choices, sit back with family and friends and sip a cup of locally-produced cider and know you are making a difference not only in your life, but in the lives of others. Then carry on the Eat Local principles throughout the year, helping yourself eat healthy and keeping your money in the community.
*As published in the Cultivate KC December newsletter.