The last week of April is a special time for the culinary department at VITALIA Senior Residences® at Strongsville Strongsville, OH. In honor of Earth Month, we will be celebrating and embracing the Farm to Table concept. While the terminology is often overused, the idea is a basic one that stems from the days when the food you ate came from the farm you lived on or nearby. Practices may have changed but utilizing the produce and livestock from local farms and growers has many benefits. For example, did you know most produce loses nutrients within 24 hours of harvesting? Have you ever noticed how fresh meat is moister and more flavorful?
Farm to Table also helps strengthen the local economy by providing jobs and keeping money in the hands of businesses run by our neighbors and friends. It helps to build relationships between the farmer or rancher and the customer. Both sides benefit greatly from sourcing local items. If an item becomes scarce, or pricing becomes high, this valued relationship can be instrumental in helping us to continue to provide the exceptional food our residents have come to expect from us with minimal interruption.
The dish I’m making is vegetarian Bolognese with Middlefield Cheese. All the following items are locally sourced: garlic, white onion, tomato, squash, radish, curly parsley, Italian basil, button mushrooms, microgreens, bell peppers, eggplant, and Middlefield Cheese. I am sourcing the ingredients from these local businesses: Green City Growers http://www.evgoh.com/gcg/, Alison’s Superfoods Market https://www.alisonssuperfoodsmarket.com/, Fitch’s Farm Market https://fitchsfarmmarket.com/, Great Lakes Growers https://www.greatlakesgrowers.com/, and Oberlin Food Hub http://www.oberlinfoodhub.com/.
Rich and layer sauces are a building block of my cooking style, a meatless dish made in a way to mimic the richness and textures of the original. The ingredients are recognizable, and most are the foundation of flavor with the chance to show them off in a unique way. That is why I decided on this dish and these ingredients.
My father’s family immigrated to the United States from Czechoslovakia as fruit tree grafters and my mother’s family came from Kentucky farming culture. My childhood was full of fresh concord grapes and mulberries, home-canned beans and tomatoes, fields of fresh sweet corn and potatoes, and best of all, homemade fruit perogies. My great grandfather ran a cabbage, noodle and potato pancake truck at fairs and events for most of my childhood. Long story short, local food has been a cornerstone of my life.
For us, buy local isn’t just a bumper sticker. It should be embraced and promoted as much as possible. Even if you couldn’t be here to enjoy it with us, I hope you can enjoy the content included here and feel inspired to visit some of these local vendors!