Arkansas: Locally Sourced Servings for the Soul

farmer

On a blistering cold Saturday morning, many people are tucked in bed with a nice, hot cup of cocoa or sleeping under their flannel sheets.  However, in Northwest Arkansas, young people and young families are standing outside at restaurants like the Farmer’s Table, waiting for upwards of thirty minutes for a table inside of a three room, older home.  There is no fancy menu, or a world-renowned chef. These people are here for simply delicious and nutritious, locally-sourced, comfort foods.

Food trends in the USA have historically focused greatly on food on the go – quick and easy meals for millennials to grab while rushing from work, to sporting event, to home. Recently, however, a new culinary trend has emerged among the younger crowd, who are less concerned with speed of preparation and convenience, and increasingly focused on the quality of the meal, the taste, and enjoying locally sourced produce.

Eating food grown by local farmers may seem an old notion for consumers in Europe and elsewhere in the world, but with the enduring dominance of super chains like Walmart in the US this has meant many of these once thriving local farming communities in the US are suffering, or have completely disappeared.

As Northwest Arkansas is developing and younger families are moving in, a revitalized community spirit is growing, this shift is predicated on promoting health, community and local food for the family. A growing number of young families are therefore attempting to develop a community spirit based on happiness, activity and healthy eating. A new wave of new restaurateurs have subsequently emerged, extending the focus on  local community by supporting local farmers and promoting sustainable living.

On any given Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday at 7 a.m. central time, local farmers come to sell their produce, meats, and breads at Farmer’s Markets that are growing in popularity. One such market is located in the town square in Fayetteville, Arkansas, this hosts approximately 30 vendors. These farmers, who once had problems selling once or twice a week, can now sell out in a few hours.

Out on the early morning hunt are local chefs and restaurateurs searching for their next featured dish. Because of the different seasons here, the produce available is constantly changing, creating an amazing array of possible new delicacies for local, and some not so local, patrons to enjoy, while giving local farmers income year round.

After the farmers market, many common items like bacon from local farmers in Gentry and eggs from a chicken farm in Farmington are the basis Sunday brunch.  The only herbs used are the ones grown next door in the restaurant’s garden. Nothing is frozen or genetically modified. Anything that is served on these menus is organic and free of chemicals, leaving only the natural goodness that our bodies crave.

Local restaurants in Arkansas are also keeping waste at a minimum. Composting is a large part of this equation, diminishing the amount of trash being thrown away. The egg shells and left over plant waste are redistributed in the garden to help the soil in the garden. Chicken bones are used to create a broth. Very little packaging or plastic is thrown away simply because there was none in the first place.

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These ‘locally sourced’ restaurants are growing in number, and include; the Farmers Table, Herb and Elks, Four Corners Kitchen, and Greenhouse Grill. The philosophy that these eateries are promoting is easy to buy into because of the quality of their menus, the delicious and colorful nature of each meal, and the knowledge that this is helping our local community and promoting sustainability. These culinary developments have revitalized what it means to eat local and have created a more wholesome and healthy community for families in Northwest Arkansas.

 

Picture: The Farmer’s Table, a ‘locally sourced’ restaurant in Fayetteville, AR.