July 31, 2015

Lara Jesser-Abell and John Abell


Looking to get inspired to eat local food? It would be hard to read Lara and John’s answers and not be inspired to eat local- so give it a read! John Abell is a professor at Randolph College and has conducted research projects with his students pertaining to the food desert problem in Lynchburg. Lara, on the other hand is the director of development at New Vistas School and has helped get a garden started there, which students run and then donate the harvest to the Lynchburg Daily Bread. They are definitely a source for good in our community!

Here’s what John had to say:

What do you like best about coming to the market?
I like the fact that I’m buying food from local farmers and vendors who really care about the quality of the food the grow and sell.

Why do you choose to eat local food?
There is a lot of evidence that localized economies are better capable of addressing many of the problems that our society experiences such as degradation of the environment, health, community, and general economic well-being. The locavore movement is an important part of the localized economy movement. I have greater trust in the quality of the food that local farmers produce. It is a meaningful experience to get to know them; to have weekly conversations with them, to visit their farms, to share meals with them, etc. My purchases help money to circulate in the local and regional economy, rather than leaking away to a corporate headquarters in some big city. My food is fresher and generally in-season. I can ask direct questions concerning things like the use of chemicals and the care of the animals. You can only guess as to such treatment of food in the grocery store. The recent bill passed by the House of Representatives that would allow food producers to not have to identify the existence of GMOs on food labels is an example of what I’m referring to.

What’s your favorite fruit and vegetable? And why?
Favorite fruit: Blueberries. I use them in smoothies and in pancakes. They are extremely healthy. Favorite vegetable: Spinach. Spinach also goes into smoothies, as well as omelets. When the spinach in my own garden bolts, I switch over to kale and chard. I freeze them as well.

What are you going to make this week with your local produce?
Right now I’m buying sweet corn nearly every week and eating it (with just a tiny bit of butter and salt) nearly every day. It needs little preparation other than just 5 minutes of boiling. Blueberries, as noted, make an appearance nearly every breakfast, and I have stored a bunch in the freezer to last the winter.

As for Lara:

What do you like best about coming to the market?
I always bump into someone I know. It’s a casual environment that seems to be more like a social event than going to the grocery store. Usually, it’s safe to assume we all have a few ideals in common too, such as healthy lifestyles, cooking and eating with fresh ingredients, an appreciation of our local agriculture and community connections. So, that means a certain common ground and shared experience, even with people you haven’t met yet. I get goat’s milk truffles every week and treat myself to one (or two) a day. H.B. Hunter lets me have a standing order and sees me coming every week – boom! My bag of truffles with my name on it – I can make it through another week knowing I have a treat at the end of a hard day!

Why do you choose to eat local food?
The interaction with the farmer/venders is pleasant and personal. Each grower has a seed to sale relationship with the food. This leads me to believe they care about what I think about it and whether or not it’s healthy (safely grown with minimal chemicals in safe soil). It’s a “here, I grew this just for you to enjoy” feeling. Eggs, meat and goat cheese are produced the same way. These are also my friends and neighbors, I know their kids, where their farms are, I want them to do well. If I don’t know them, I’m pretty sure they have kids and farms they care about too because they’re there every week.

What’s your favorite fruit and vegetable? And why?
We eat as seasonally as we can, and there is usually something specific to a growing season that I just love. Peaches, cherries, strawberries are always in my plain yogurt in the mornings when they’re in season and make great snacks. In the colder months, Brussel sprouts are a favorite when sautéed and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Sweet potatoes are so versatile, I like them sliced on pepper-jack grilled cheese sandwiches with avocado. My husband, John, makes me omelets with spinach, kale or Swiss chard and local mushrooms. Eggs and goat cheese come from the market of course.

What are you going to make this week with your local produce?
Peach cut up into plain Greek yogurt is one of my favorite breakfasts. We are doing a lot of corn off the cob – it fits into just about every dinner. Tomatoes sliced and roasted with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and sprinkled with salt, some goat cheese and chopped basil are fantastic on homemade bread.
We also can and freeze a lot of fruits and vegetables to enjoy all year long. It’s time to get serious about making peach butter and canning various tomato based sauces – it’s a lot of work, but I’m always glad I make the effort. When I’m able to pop the top on a can in February, it reminds me of summer and that next year’s yummy-juicy warmness will eventually come round again.


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