From farm to table, foodies track every step

Interest in locally sourced food increases

INDIANAPOLIS - Foodies, people who have a keen interest in food, are everywhere, and they're largely focused on where food comes from and how it is made.

The National Restaurant Association said locally sourced food is the top trend for restaurants in 2013, and that's evident in central Indiana, with more restaurants and markets featuring food that was grown locally.

For many foodies, it all starts with various types of meat and the way farmers have turned away from conventional methods to turn back the clock.

Chris Baggott farms the old-fashioned way at Tyner Pond Farm in Greenfield, raising cows, pigs and chickens on grass and natural foods without grains and antibiotics. The animals roam free on 98 acres.

"You know, I just became concerned about the food problem," Baggott said, believing the way sustainable farmers contribute to the food chain is superior to the methods of conventional farmers.

"That nutrition (on our farm) comes from fresh vegetables, from the grass, you know, from sunshine, from being happy," Baggott said.

Chris Eley, a world-class butcher, buys beef, pork and chicken from local, sustainable farms for his Smoking Goose shop.

"We're concerned about the product from start to finish," Eley said. "We're getting back … to what worked for centuries."

Eley's shop sells locally produced, humanely raised meats, and he produces meat products that are sold nationwide, such as -natural smoked grass-fed pastrami and smoked lamb bacon.

You can tell a difference in animals' textures that are stressed versus animals that are allowed to roam free and feed free," Eley said.

Chef Daniel Orr is well-known in culinary circules worldwide. After cooking at top restaurants in New York and the Caribbean, he returned to Indiana to open his own place, FARMBloomington .

"I knew it was kind of a hotbed for Hoosier hospitality and good food and local ingredients and that they would support it," Orr said.

The foodie movement that began a decade ago in California is now prevalent in Indiana, Orr said.

"About 10 or 12 years ago, we used to hear foodies, and as chefs, we were like, 'What are these people?'" Orr said.

It's not necessary to be a foodie to take an interest in organic and sustainable food. People often begin buying food locally after talking with local farmers.

"More farms like this, where people buy from their farmer and keep that money circulating, is a really, really good thing," Baggott said.

Local product knowledge and the trust that local farmers and vendors build up helps sell the products.

"It's what people are looking for now. They definitely want to talk to somebody who knows where that product's been or where the item's been," Orr said. "Local production is what I'm most about, because local and sustainable allows you to buy things with fewer food miles, which means you're supporting your neighbors instead of someone in China."

Farmers said they think it's important that locally produced, sustainable food is affordable for everyone. They're pleased that local farmers markets are accepting food stamps.


Follow Drew Smith on Twitter: @drewsmith1  | Drew's Food Blog

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