Locavore  [LOH-kah-vore] noun 1. a person who makes an effort to eat food that is grown, raised, or produced locally

This week we marry a classic Mediterranean recipe with the local, organically and sustainably grown, farm-fresh produce from the Backbone Food Farm. Ratatouille is a lovely vegetable stew with roots in Spain and France and it showcases the best of the mid to late summer harvest. A fresh tomato sauce accented with sauteed onions, garlic, peppers, thyme, oregano, and extra virgin olive oil meets lightly browned zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant in this classic Provencal dish. This recipe is especially good with the larger (and often tougher) late-season squash and zucchini that benefit from gentle simmering in the fragrant fresh tomato sauce. 

What makes this recipe so special is that we prepared the dish on the Backbone Food Farm with vegetables picked that very morning! Talk about fresh, flavorful, and nutritious! One of my food guidelines is “buy and use locally grown products whenever possible.” There are SO MANY BENEFITS to becoming a “locavore” and cooking with the best, locally procured ingredients. According to researcher Kathleen Frith with the Harvard School of Public Health, some of the benefits of becoming a “locavore” include:

  • Higher nutritional quality: fruit and vegetables lose much of their nutritional value over a short period of time. Buying locally grown produce = maximum nutritional value!
  • Naturally ripened and in-season produce: our farmers bring high quality items to market during the natural cycle of maturation and ripening. Many of the fruits and vegetables in larger stores are mass produced, shipped before ripened, and coaxed to mature in transit. One study showed that mass produced broccoli lost over HALF of its vitamin C during transportation to retail outlets. Sweet corn can lose up to 60% of its natural “sweetness” and nutritional value within just 24 hours of harvesting!
  • Local = less transportation: Less fuel, less handling, and less distance all add up to MORE nutrition and less natural resources needed to bring products to market. 
  • Fresher produce = best tasting: Nothing beats fresh produce, picked at its peak, for fantastic flavor and nutrition!
  • Supports the local economy: Let your hard earned dollars work in your own backyard! Supporting local agriculture is good for healthy economies and eating plans!
  • Sustains healthy lands: Sustainable, biodynamic farming practices ensure the land remains productive, vibrant, and environmentally friendly for generations to come.

We are so grateful for the opportunity to prepare a truly “farm to table” meal with our friends at the Backbone Food Farm! We encourage you to get out, meet your farmers, and become a Garrett County locavore…good for you and our community!

Shelley Argabrite
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