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Food and Drink Features
 

Making local work


From dirt to Veggie Van to plate, this urban movement will make other states green with envy.

Jenn Scott November 2nd, 2011

The once-prevalent practice of growing and consuming one’s own food has been supplanted by chemicals, drive-throughs and consumerism. The now-foreign concept of dirt-to-plate dining has been replaced by Happy Meals and out-of-country produce.

However, the days of processed and pesticide-riddled “food” could be on the way out the door if an outspoken and well-rooted advocate gets his way.

Oklahoma native Matt Burch had a veggie epiphany back in 2008, and Urban Agrarian was born.

He recognized the disconnect between local, sustainable farmers to the consumer. That realization and a Veggie Van that runs on waste vegetable oil now fuel the idea behind his concept: local-food distribution.

Getting started with local eating can seem like a daunting task. After all, change is hard.

“First transition is eggs. Everyone eats eggs for breakfast,” said Burch, when asked how a person might get started. He said that the difference in quality, color and texture of free-range, local eggs is undeniable and a great place to begin the journey.

right, Local, in-season fare at Earth to Urban.

Why eat local? Urban Agrarian provides answers on its website: First, it’s better for the environment. It takes a lot of fossil fuel to transport food across the globe. Second, you are supporting your local economy, and that benefits you in the long run. Finally, local produce is fresher (mainly due to proximity), which in most cases means a higher nutrient density.

“I went through a peach obsession when they were in season. I was hitting (Urban Agrarian) up twice a week for a fix,” said Sheri Guyse, locavore and self-proclaimed “evangelocalist.”

“I’ve shopped with Urban Agrarian for a couple of years. That’s where I buy my staple items. I love that Matt not only knows where the food was grown, he knows the people who grew it.”

So, where can you get your hands on all these local goodies? The Veggie Van makes bulk deliveries for schools, restaurants and retailers. For everyday cooking and eating needs, visit one of the three outdoor markets. During the spring and summer, you can find them throughout the metro: Midtown Market at St. Anthony Hospital on Fridays, the Edmond farmers’ market on Saturdays and the Urban Agrarian Local Foods Market, held in the Cheever’s parking lot on Sundays.

Fall and winter are upon us, but don’t fret: Urban Agrarian celebrated its grand opening of Earth to Urban (1235 S.W. Second) last month. It’s a collaboration with Earth Elements, a bakery, food processor and sustainability enthusiast. The facility will be open through all the seasons (10 a.m. to 6 p.m Wednesdays-Sundays), so you don’t have to wait until the spring and summer to enjoy local fare.

Together, they’ve crafted a space that will contain a market for fresh, in-season produce and a certified kitchen for the public to book and use. Burch said the space has a down-home, rustic feel. The renovated building boasts original wood floors, as well as old barn wood trim. This will be the first kitchen available to the public for the purpose of concocting and selling handmade goods. He said he hopes to see the kitchen used by caterers, mobile food trucks and cooking classes.

Kara Pribil, registered nurse and advocate for healthy living, attended the grand opening and is excited for OKC to have a space like this.

“It’s a cool area for people to go. It’s something different. OKC needs this,” she said. “People need to be more aware and support local.”

 
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