|City Farm’s pattypan squash ready for the farmer’s market this past spring|
Acadiana Food Circle promotes locally sourced food and helps ensure what we consume in restaurants lives up to its billing.
The slow food movement has universal appeal, whether a consumer’s interests are culture, economics, sustainability, health or just the best tasting food they can find.
|Madeleine Hernandez inspects a zucchini freshly picked
on her family’s farm in Lafayette.
Acadiana Food Circle is working to promote those interests and more for local consumers, restaurateurs, farmers and future generations. Its mission is to connect local consumers with local producers and to educate the public on healthy, local food choices, and that the benefits of eating local are innumerable.
“People think that if they’re eating local, it’s intimidating and it’s expensive — but it’s not, you just have to know the source, which is what Acadiana Food Circle does,” says Tyler Thigpen, AFC president. AFC puts together a directory, which is chock full of local producers, artisans and restaurants who use local foods. “It takes you directly to the source. It tells you farmers’ markets, CSAs [community-supported agriculture], farmers and where they sell and at least one way to contact them. We verify farm-to-table restaurants that they’re buying regularly from two farmers. We do a certification system that gives us a lot of validity with the producers because so many people say they’re local, but they’re not local — they have a local distributor. We try to make sure people who are saying they’re local are and we include them in the directory and put a sticker on the door.”
Eating local is often less expensive and more beneficial for individuals, mostly because eating seasonally doesn’t require an unnecessary amount of transportation or modification to the food.
“If you look at the whole picture, it doesn’t cost more,” says Sal Lopinto, outreach coordinator for AFC and a kale enthusiast. “A lot of these factory farms are subsidized by taxpayers and they’re getting millions of dollars pumped in to produce genetically modified corn that’s fed to these animals, and this awful food makes people sick — look at Joel Salatin, who said, ‘If you think the price of organic food is expensive, have you priced cancer lately?’”
“Part of the slow food movement, a component of it is sustainability,” says Mark Hernandez, co-owner of Mark & Mary’s City Farm. “It’s a healthier way to do things; economically it’s a better plan, so the one thing I think the big challenge is being able to provide enough to support demand. With only a handful of growers, demand is going to exceed what we can supply.”
Traditionally grown food takes substantially longer to grow, mainly because conventional farms use synthetic fertilizers to produce more food faster. However, the care that goes into each plant on a local farm results in superior taste and higher nutrition value.
“Tomatoes, for example, if they’re being trucked across the country, they’re picked green so the nutrient hasn’t fully developed,” continues Hernandez, “whereas when you buy local they’re normally picked ripe so the nutrient level is higher.”
“People always think about portion control, and with better quality and better taste, portions just naturally are controlled,” says Daphne Olivier, the health and nutrition outreach coordinator for AFC. “Your body isn’t craving nutrients that aren’t there. The food flavor is going to taste so different whenever it’s been picked that day. It’s going to be totally different from something that’s been genetically modified. And part of the mindless eating that has become habit for so many people is because of food flavor, and a lot of the foods we’re eating have no flavor, so your body craves more and more. The nutrient and microorganisms that are found in locally grown foods are going to better populate your gut, which will allow for better absorption and decreased inflammation.”
Thigpen also cites the microbes in local foods, which help fight disease and promote health.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a tree-hugger or a health fanatic or fiscally conservative,” says Thigpen. “It keeps money in the community, so if you care about finances, that’s huge. If you care about health, a lot of our producers are pesticide-free, and it’s local and sustainable. If you care about the environment, the carbon footprint does not exist. We’re not getting Listeria outbreaks from grapefruit from Australia because it’s not being trucked across the country and handled by God knows how many people. There are so many different reasons why local is appealing, and it doesn’t have to be yuppy or hippy or hipster or whatever people like to call it.”
Find the AFC directory at acadianafoodcircle.org
September's $509 million in sales pushed Lafayette Parish's nine-month total to $4.4 billion.
The Louisiana Supreme Court has punted on its first chance to decide whether a new state constitutional provision declaring gun possession a fundamental right could void a long list of criminal statutes that regulate firearms.
New Orleans' offense, which ranks sixth in the NFL, isn't helping many of its skill players pile up Pro Bowl-type stats. Rather, the approach of coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees has enabled a wide range of play-makers to emerge periodically with high-production outings.
An ordinance phasing out a rebate businesses receive for collecting and remitting sales taxes is tabled, but it doesn’t solve the vexing issue of government revenue.
From jewelry to home goods, deals abound
Forgiving shapes for NOLA Bowl
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday, December 12, 2013:
As part of a national undertaking known by industry insiders as the “Butterfly Project,” a rebranded version of The Daily Advertiser is set to launch with Sunday’s edition of the Gannett-owned paper.
Louisiana moved up a slot to 48th in the ranking of healthy states — once again, thank God for Mississippi! — so all this frettin’ about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s refusal to expand Medicaid per Obamacare ... fuggidaboutit! We don’t need Medicaid no more!
The Denham Springs woman who placed Christmas lights in the shape of a butter finger on her roof in a display of anger directed at neighbors has doubled the trouble for the 2013 holiday season.
The New Orleans architect behind the 1984 World’s Fair also left his mark on Lafayette.
Laid back vibe just right for NOLA Bowl
The 30-second commercial, to run around the state, is the Democratic senator's first TV spot in her bid for re-election to a fourth term.
It's a number that has edged up but falls far short of the thousands who are eligible for subsidized coverage.
A group of mostly higher education leaders will make recommendations to state lawmakers about how to tweak the policies governing tuition rates charged at the state's public colleges.
Week long specials and a ribbon cutting celebration held in Parc Lafayette
Fort Worth company's new facility at Lafayette Regional Airport will build helicopters primarily for the export market.
Could River Ranch restaurant be the next star?
Move over Hooters — there’s a new breastaurant coming to town.
Hashtag, retweet, like, share and do whatever else it takes to get in good today with the jolly man in red.