Food conscious people are evolving

By Annette Velarde

First, there were herbivores. Then came the carnivores, followed by the omnivores. Today, food-conscious people are evolving into Locavores—individuals who make a concerted effort to eat food that is fresh, bursting with flavor and nutrients, and produced locally.

The worldwide Slow Food movement isn’t just the opposite of fast food. It’s about elevating the importance food holds in our lives and building sustainable community systems that provide us with good, clean food grown by people that we compensate fairly for their efforts. Through CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), Slow Food supporters build a mutually beneficial relationship between the food consumer and food producer. CSA customers become hale and hearty by financially supporting our local farmers, who can in turn produce more abundant and healthier food for them.

The Park City chapter of Slow Food (PCSF) promotes and celebrates the benefits of locally and sustainably produced foods. Led by Park City food gurus Susan and David Odell, (foodell.com), and Alison Godlewski, PCSF sponsors a “Meet the Producers” event each year just as the snow begins to look like it’s giving up its grip on Summit County. “In and around Summit County there are scores of CSAs to choose from,” said David Odell. The bounty of what is available is amazing.” Most CSAs work on the “annual subscription share” model. A consumer purchases a “share” in the CSA’s operation. Depending on the farmer and size of weekly order chosen, the price of a share is between $250—$900 dollars for the year (whatever the fee, it calculates to be far less that what it would cost to purchase individual items from organic grocery stores). The farmer then uses subscriber’s money to cultivate and care for his farm. In this way, the consumer and producer become “partners” in local food production. Together, they stake their investment on the weather, pests, variable labor costs…all the fickle fates that make non- corporate farming operations almost impossible to sustain. As each crop ripens, the consumer receives a weekly package of just-picked items. One week could be a box containing spinach, green beans, carrots, and corn and the next week cucumbers, salad greens, sweet onions, and tomatoes. Some CSAs operate only during the growing season, others have greenhouses and deliver year-round. Most CSA farmers also have booths at the area’s Farmer’s Markets. Park City’s Farmer’s Market (parkcityfarmersmarket.com) is on Wednesdays at Canyons’ lower parking area.

Copper Moose Farm (coppermoosefarm.com) is right here in Park City and has mastered vegetable and flower gardening at 7,000 feet. Growing on three acres of organically certified soil, everything from herbs to pumpkins is cultivated. Their salad greens are served in many of the areas finest restaurants and their greenhouses make it possible to provide these all year long. In addition to their vegetable share, they also have a flower share, that brings subscribers fresh-cut bouquets during the season. The granddaddy of all Utah CSAs, Ranui Gardens, (ranui.com) is also located in Summit County. In operation since 1984, Ranui has mastered high-elevation gardening with an average of only 60 frost-free days a year. Along with a wide variety of fresh vegetables, they also grow culinary and medicinal herbs and flowers.

While Park City residents are lucky to live above the Valley’s summer heat, the longer growing season at the lower elevations makes it possible for several CSAs to offer fresh, nutrient rich fruits and vegetables all year long. Zoes Garden (zoegarden.com) are crusaders for the Slow Food movement. They model the kind of growing that doesn’t ruin the earth, but instead takes care of it. In addition to an incredible variety of fruits and vegetables, they also offer pasture-raised beef and lamb. During harvest season they pick and immediately freeze or preserve many items to purchase with your winter share. Tagge’s Famous Fruit (taggesfamousfruit.com) is the classic story of a corporate bigwig turned farmer. Thayne and Cari Tagge started farming in earnest in the late 90s, and now cultivate nearly 100 acres of fruit and vegetables to sell to CSA subscribers and through their local stands. They offer stunning vegetables and eye-popping fruit as each naturally ripens. Raspberries, apricots, melons, peaches, and cherries are included in their weekly “share” boxes and are abundantly available at their stands. Jacob’s Cove Heritage Farm (jacobscove.net) is a Utah family farm headed by Dale Allred. Dale had extensive experience in large farming operations, but became disillusioned as it became apparent that modern agriculture practices were unsustainable. This inspired him to begin growing food the way nature had intended. In no time, the customers and CSA subscribers poured in to support his efforts and benefit from his bounty. If you’re looking for locally grown and certified organic, check out Bell Organic Gardens (bellorganic.com). Located in Draper, Utah, they’ve been providing the area with fresh, certified organic local produce for over 14 years.

The meat poultry sector of locally produced food has grown by leaps and bounds the past few years and now Park City consumers can purchase them from several sources. Pasture-raised beef is available from Canyon Meadows Ranch (cmrbeef.com) and Summit County Beef (summitcountybeef.org). Heritage Valley Poultry (heritagevalleypoultry.com) raises free-range chicken, turkey, duck, goose, and rabbit. Morgan Valley Lamb (morganvalleylamb.com) has long been a featured menu item of Park City’s epicurean dining rooms, but it’s also sold directly to consumers in the form of whole or half lambs. These high-quality meat options may cost a little more than a chain-grocery store, but there’s no comparison in taste, freshness, and nutritional value.

If buying a share of a single CSA seems too limiting or too large an initial investment for you, check out Utah Farms CSA (utahfarmscsa.com). This is a co-op of nearly 30 of the state’s best CSAs, so they have many providers contributing to your weekly delivery. You sign up and pay a month at a time and can suspend delivery any week(s) you wish. They offer everything discussed above, as well as some items exclusively offered through their collective growing power.

Utah is also home to several local artisan cheese makers. Gold Creek Farms of Kamas, Utah, recently had their Smoked White Cheddar named as one of the top cheeses in the world. Drake Family Farms has been in Utah since 1880 (drakefamilyfarms.com) and is passionate about goats. They sell everything from creamy chevre to gentle goat’s milk soap. Snowy Mountain Sheep Creamery (snowymountainsheepcreamery.com) in Eden has put Utah on the cheese map with their pungent blues made from sheep’s milk. Heber Valley Artisan Cheeses (hebervalleycheese.com) is just around the corner from Park City and is open year-round for cheese tastings of their acclaimed fresh and aged varieties. They also offer hard-to-find raw milk.

Other notable organic products that are locally produced are bread, gourmet sweets, wine, jams and pickles. Volker’s Bakery (volkersbakery.com) from Kamas is a local’s favorite for fresh baked bread at its best. Be sure to check out newcomer Red Bicycle Breadworks too—lots of organic, imaginative loaves to try. Luann’s Cupcakes (luannscupcakes.com) are baked daily right in her cozy Park City bakery. She offers all your favorites as well as some delectable surprises like Sassy Margarita. The Chocolate Conspiracy (eatchocolateconspiracy.com) is a local company every chocoholic should know about. They craft raw chocolate artisan bars in combinations like Wild Spice, Mint, and Wild Ninja. A renegade group of grape-growers are trying their hand at local wines. Kiler Grove Winegrowers (kilergrovewines.com) is Utah’s first urban winery and well worth tasting. A little further south is Castle Creek Winery offering six varietals that have received numerous awards. The Yee-Haw Pickle Company (yeehawpickles.wordpress.com) invites you to manifest your pickle destiny by discovering what truly great pickles are. They buy their cucumbers from local farms and sweeten with Utah honey. Varieties like their Hot Damn Dills and Honey Bee Stackers will make you a pickle connoisseur!

Be sure to check out the many vendors of organic products at the weekly Park City Farmer’s Market. For more local vendors, peruse utahsown.utah.gov or farmersmarketonline.com. They list dozens of producers and open-air markets
all over the state. Join the Slow Food movement and enjoy all the benefits to your personal health while building stronger communities. Eat like a Locavore!