How Eating Locally Can Solve Your Picky Eater Woes
Growing up in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, Robert Newton wasn't thrilled to spend time working in his family's vegetable garden. Years later, he credits that yard work with inspiring not only a love of local, seasonal produce, but also his cooking career. As chef/owner of two successful New York restaurants, he handles fresh vegetables every day, only now they come from the local farmers market, instead of his own backyard.
We chatted with Newton about the benefits of eating locally, what's season now, and how to get your kids to try new veggies. Check out our conversation below, and if you're in the New York area, be sure to visit the Seersucker pop-up restaurant at the Rock Center Cafe. They're open through September 20th, and dining options are available for both lunch and dinner. Reserve a table online or call 201-332-7620.
Why do you choose to serve local, seasonal produce in your restaurants? Because it's the right thing to do. Eating seasonally makes sense, especially when such amazing farmers markets are right in your backyard. There's no excuse, aside from being too busy. But if that's the case, you can join a CSA.
What are some benefits of eating locally? The benefits are innumerable. I truly believe that when you shop and eat locally, you'll feel a deeper connection to your community and you'll be eating healthier.
How do you recommend preparing the produce that's in season this September? The simpler the better. The produce at farmers markets is so fresh that you need to do very little. If you're a busy mom, roast extra vegetables and use them as a side dish, cook them in a scramble or an omelet, make a sandwich, salad or pasta dish with them. Broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, they all roast beautifully.
Is produce from the farmers market more expensive than produce from the grocery? It can be more expensive, which scares some people. But you're paying for something special, grown by someone who cares, not something grown on a big commercial farm. Most of the time, produce you buy at a farmers market will last twice as long as what you buy at a supermarket. That in the long run will save you money.
Any tips for preparing this season's vegetables for kids? It depends on the child. If you have a picky eater, try to involve him or her in the shopping and food preparation. I know that's not always possible, but you might be surprised at the results. Introduce your child to the folks at the farm stand, let them pick out some vegetables. Take a family field trip to a farm and pick some produce. It might make all the difference.
Is shopping organic essential? Or are there still benefits to shopping with local farmers who use conventional methods? Tough question. I prefer shopping organic whenever possible. I believe it's better for our bodies and better for our planet. But I don't want to beat up parents who don't have easy access to organic. At the end of the day, buying fresh seasonal produce from a farmers market is the best thing you can do. If it's organic, that's even better.