Is that grass I see? Could it really be?
Farming in the Ozarks is always filled with weather that keeps many of us on our toes and looking forward to springtime once again. I can already smell the new sprigs of grass, see the Redbud trees flowering and almost taste the local flavors I’ve been missing from the garden – fresh spinach, peas, berries and REAL tomatoes! (I refuse to purchase tomatoes during the winter because they taste too much like cardboard to even try to enjoy.)
Local foods. What is local? Some folks say that local foods are anything grown in Missouri or 500 miles away from your home. Yes, I agree. I would rather purchase grown in the U.S. or Missouri, but to me “locally grown” means in my region of the Ozarks. Personally, I have my farmers that I trust and purchase items from throughout the year. For instance, for my berries I travel to my friends Earnie or Jan, when it comes to bison steak I visit Robert and I always appreciate the taste of good bacon from Steve to pair alongside my fresh eggs from Sunny.
We as farm folks have always appreciated and grown our own food, so local foods isn’t really a new concept to us. But, there is a whole generation of folks that are just now realizing that products grown, raised and produced locally- are fresher, last longer and taste better.
Unfortunately, it’s my generation that really has no clue where their food comes from or for that matter, how to even cook fresh products that don’t come from a prepackaged meal. I know how we got here, but I’m more interested in how we as an agricultural community move forward?
Some might believe that the whole “local foods wave” by consumers only targets fruits and vegetables, but you are mistaken. You might assume since you live on a production livestock farm that you will not be impacted. Wrong again. Local foods include all farm products and this new surge of consumers will affect the way livestock producers raise and market their animals in the future.  Therefore, it is imperative for our farming community to band together and educate our consumers.
The educational process will not be easy, but long-term it will benefit not only our family farms, but our lifestyle and our bottomline. Consumers need to understand how we raise our livestock, the conservation stewardship practices that we implement on our farm and the way we care and provide for our animals throughout the winter and even blizzards that pass through the Ozarks.
Furthermore, we have to support each other as local farmers. In the times before, we didn’t have mega grocery stores, farmers traded and purchased all foods locally – strengthening local economies. Now, we head down the road to the closest store to buy our family’s food. Why not do a little research and find where we can purchase cheese, milk, eggs, beef, pork, chicken, bread, jelly, produce (do I really need to go on?)
Agriculture is a community that binds together, that is what has always made this industry successful and will continue to do so in the future. With providing a little bit of education to our consumers and supporting each other in the Ozarks, our family farms will have an even brighter tomorrow.
Here is a recipe from one of our Ozarks Farm & Neighbor writers that is sure to be a tasty delight! Best wishes for the upcoming spring,


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