|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
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday, March 10, 2014:
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Prepare yourselves for sun
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
Queen Evangline and King Gabriel ruled Tuesday night
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
IND Style does Gabriel
Newsy bits for the fam