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Local People Connect with Local Food

Cows at DARR School of Agriculture / Photo Credit: Shannon Bowers

At the farmers market on Battlefield Road and Glenstone Avenue, customers are able to speak with the farmer growing their food; an important connection they say is unlike any big box store. Consumers say they can learn how plants were raised and how humane farm animals were kept.

“I just prefer buying local. I feel like it is a lot better. It doesn’t have the chemicals and additives. I would rather support local and buy my produce from people who grew it local in Springfield,” said Carlie Aksamit.

Even the U.S. department of Agriculture has been promoting the concept of farm-to-table eating. That’s why Dr. Anson Elliot, the director of the DARR School of Agriculture at Missouri State University, wanted to expand their local beef production.

“It’s a way to help the consumer understand the importance of food and also understand the total process,” Elliott said.  

*Nat Sound: MOOOOOOOO*

As I observe two ranchers load up six cows and some calves at the DARR School, Dr. Elliott explained these livestock never travel far. They are raised at Journagan Ranch in Mountain Grove or at Shealy Farm in Fair Grove.

“We try not to move our cattle very often. And as you can tell they are not totally excited. And we like that because we know stress is bad on us and stress is bad on animal. So they just don’t go through the stress,” said Elliott.

Their beef is processed and sold by Springfield’s Hoormans Meats. Seth Hoerman is the owner of the Hoormans’ store on Battlefield Road. He says customers are worried about growth hormones in meats. Hoerman wants his customers to enjoy natural, high quality meat. 

“I like supporting the local economy. There are so many additives in our food. You do want to know where it is coming from. When you know the farmer, you can have better piece of mind of what you’re eating,” said Hoerman.

“The whole movement of supporting local economy and business is part of a trend,” says Gray.

That’s Brad Gray, the Market manager of the Greater Springfield Farmers Market.

“The animals that we raise and process locally are fresher. There is more nutrition in it. Our food isn’t sitting in storage or on a truck somewhere for two weeks. Consumers are getting wise to this and they are realizing their health is at stake,” said Gray.

Additionally, those I spoke with said it’s nostalgic when walking down those outdoor aisles filled with parsley, lettuce, and tomatoes.  Many said shopping local farmers markets brings them back to their Ozark farming roots.

Nationally, the number of farmers markets has nearly doubled  from 4,685 in 2008 to over 8,000 this year.  The USDA expects this local food movement to continue.  

For KSMU News, I’m Shannon Bowers.