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January 28, 2020
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Food & Dining Health & Wellness

Eat Local, Eat Healthy

“Endeavor to persevere.” Its a fine quote from the 1970 movie, Little Big Man with Dustin Hoffman and I have for years been quite fond of it. Perhaps is it nineteenth century way of saying “hang in there,” but it is the theme that I want to talk to you about today, in this newly minted year.

I hope that this year you will endeavor to eat right, stay away from fast food, processed food, and buy and consume local produce and meats as best you can. No, it is not easy. It takes a little extra effort to get up early Saturday morning and go to the Ocean Springs Fresh Market or one of the other certified local markets. But a certified market will insure that what you buy is fresh and local, not something bought at a produce wholesaler and then put on the back of a pickup truck so it looks like it should be “farm fresh.”

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When you walk through a local farmers market, ask yourself if those bananas were really locally grown, or, this time of the year, if those clearly greenhouse grown and still slightly green tomatoes, are worth the price. More often than not, it is obvious, but you can always ask a vendor where they got what they are selling. Beware of answers like “Alabama” or a “friends farm.” Shop wisely.

Shopping locally is more expensive, but you do get what you pay for. Chickens raised in a chicken house, locked up in a cage and fed processed feed are not healthy or as delicious as farm raised, cage free chicken. The same goes for pork and beef. Pork that is raised out of doors and that eats plants and natural feed is pink, not white. It was a slick advertising move for the big pork producers to start calling it the “other white meat,” as if the color was a sign of being healthy and good. In fact, the opposite is true.

This is also a good time to consider not only what you feed your family but how. Big steaks on the grill are a thing of the past. Huge portions of any meat, should be avoided. I grew up being served a porterhouse for everyone at the table, but over the years have modified my diet so that protein is more like a seasoning. Chunks of beef in a stew, thick with vegetables, or smoked pork used as a seasoning in peas and beans. Its a much better and less expensive way to take care of your family.

It would be very difficult to feed your family entirely from a farmers market, but I am guessing that one day it will be possible. The Ocean Springs Fresh Market has dozens of vendors, but what is available is based on the season, just like in your grand parents time. So, give it a try, and expect something different every time you visit.

Rouses also signs locally grown produce, and there is often a big sign at the front door listing them all. I found Vardaman Mississippi white sweet potatoes (sweet like candy) there the other day, and you can always get Mississippi Blues Rice at Rouses, grown by my friend David Arant in the Delta. So, there are good, local and healthy options, you just have to endeavor to persevere to make it part of your family’s lifestyle!

Happy, healthy New Year!

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