Going local: Crossroads residents look for food from closer to home
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FOR MORE INFO: Want to find locally-grown produce near you? There's a website that might help. EatLocalGrown.com allows users to search for nearby farmers markets and the like.
To the naked eye, the bread at Simply Delicious isn't anything unusual. The ingredients, the toasty brown color - it all seems relatively ordinary.
But looks can be deceiving.
With eggs from just outside Gonzales and flour ground on-site daily, that bread - like many of the eatery's offerings - is the product of Crossroads-area ingredients.
It's something co-owner Stacey Hurst said she prides herself on.
"I'm passionate about trying to encourage our farmers and support them," she said. "It's important to me."
Hurst is among a number of Crossroads residents looking to source more food closer to home.
Going local isn't the cheapest option, Hurst said, but the benefits outweigh the costs. Not only does it support the local economy, she said, but it's healthier for both the ecology and those who eat the food.
When food is local, she said, it means the fruits and vegetables on a person's plate are what's in season.
"That's the way we were supposed to eat," she explained. "When they're ripe and in the right season, that's when you get the most nutrition. We weren't meant to eat tomatoes or blueberries year-round."
Hurst, whose menus even include a special section thanking local suppliers, said she hoped to take that local angle a step further and considered selling farmers' produce from baskets outside the shop. Simply Delicious has not yet made that step.
"It's a good way to support the people who grow food locally, and maybe even change the way people think about food," she explained. "We hope we can go that route."
Jerry Martin's Mission Valley produce might not have a basket in stores, but it sits prominently on display three times a week at the Victoria County Farmers' Market.
The lifelong farmer said he noticed more people recently making their way out to purchase local produce, probably because the food is fresher than from many store shelves.
"I think they're tired of the stores," he said from behind his table with piles of cucumbers, tomatoes, corn and more. "This way, they're getting natural stuff. There's a real difference."
Laurie Garretson, who co-owns Earthworks in Victoria, spends much of her time tending to blooming plants and foliage throughout her organic nursery. When it comes to produce, however, she goes elsewhere.
Garretson formed a buyer's club between Crossroads residents and Texas farmers about four years ago.
The endeavor began almost by chance, she said, explaining she originally asked a customer if she could purchase organic vegetables from his farm.
He agreed but, after Garretson's friends asked to join in, the farmers agreed to bring the produce to them. That group grew to about 30 people, she said, and more joined in after that.
"It kept growing and growing," she said with a laugh. "We buy from them once a week."
The current farmers hail from Smithville, in the Austin area, she said, so aren't exactly local. Still, the produce offers benefits.
It takes less gasoline to transport products in-state, she said, and there's no way to know how long it takes out-of-state companies to ship their produce after picking it.
Garretson said it feels good to know she's helping Texas producers, too.
"Farming is not an easy business by any means," she said. "We need to do anything we can to support our local farms and orchards."