As the “Heart” of America’s “Heartland,” the Wichita area offers a bounty of delicious and fresh local food. From locally raised cattle to bread baked with local wheat, Wichita has something to offer for every taste. At Chisholm’s American Beef & Ale House, we make it our priority to feature these flavors of Wichita on our rotating seasonal menu. We craft each dish with fresh ingredients from local farms and are proud to support our local agriculture.
So, what makes locally grown food unique? We believe local food picked at the peak of the season provides the richest and freshest flavors. However, the benefits of locally sourced foods extend far beyond the dinner table. Locally grown food also benefits the community, the environment, and the health of those who eat it. In this piece, we will explore the benefits of eating local foods and why serving the best local ingredients in Wichita matters to us.
What Is Locally Grown Food?
To get started, let’s dive into what eating local food really means.
Locally grown food describes any food that is grown, processed, and sold within the same region. What counts as “local” depends on the particular area or the individual restaurant or grocer. Locally grown food may travel just a few miles from farm to fork, or it may be defined as food produced within city, county, state, or regional borders. In sprawling rural regions, locally grown food typically travels greater distances than it does in dense urban areas.
Depending on the region, locally grown food can include fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy products, and grains. Meat and poultry raised locally are also considered locally grown food. Products like honey, jams, nut butter, salsas, bread, cheese, canned goods, and more can also be grown and processed locally.
Local foods vary widely based on the geographical area. Consumers in the South enjoy an abundance of citrus fruits and peanuts, for example, while consumers in the Northeast can find apples and maple syrup at their local farmer’s markets. Here in the Midwest, we are lucky to have a diverse agricultural landscape and some of the best locally raised beef in the country.
Local food is also seasonal, because different fruits and vegetables are harvested at different times of the year. While local products like meats, dairy, and grains may be available year-round, produce options change with each season in most regions. Some farmers use greenhouses to grow certain vegetables, fruits, and herbs all year long.
Consumers can find locally grown food at farmer’s markets, roadside food stands, and local grocery stores. As more people recognize the benefits of local food, some larger grocery stores have even started carrying locally sourced foods and food products. Local produce can also be purchased directly from farmers, often through Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs). These programs make it easy to enjoy locally grown foods by allowing consumers to purchase a weekly or monthly share of produce, meat, and eggs from a farm in their area.
Locally grown foods can also be found on the menu at some local restaurants. Farm-to-table restaurants like Chisholm’s craft delicious dishes featuring a variety of locally sourced foods. Our offerings change throughout the year to feature the freshest flavors of each season in the Heartland.
Why Does Eating Locally Grown Food Matter?
Buying local food is a growing trend in the U.S. as more consumers seek fresh and healthy options that are also good for the earth. Some grocery stores now offer produce and other food products from local farms. Many restaurants have also followed suit, sourcing ingredients from local growers and providing a farm-to-table experience for visitors.
Here are a few reasons why eating local food matters:
1. It’s Good for the Environment
The movement to eat locally grown food is often fueled by increased awareness of the environmental impacts of importing food from around the world. Consumers understand that it takes a lot of energy and resources to transport food sourced from distant locations. By choosing to buy local food instead, consumers can reduce their carbon footprint and their overall environmental impact.
Eating locally grown food also encourages sustainable farming practices and preserves green spaces that provide habitats for local wildlife. Small farms generally consume fewer resources to grow and process food and use fewer pesticides, preservatives, hormones, and other chemicals. Keeping chemicals out of the environment also reduces air and water pollution and results in a generally healthier ecosystem.
2. It’s Good for Your Body
Because they are grown in season and picked fresh, locally grown foods are often more nutrient-rich than imported foods or produce from commercial farms. When food is transported long distances, it loses many of its beneficial vitamins and minerals. The use of preservatives and other treatments to grow and store food outside of its natural growing season also has a negative impact on the nutrient content of the food.
When you purchase locally grown food, you also enjoy the peace of mind of knowing where your food comes from and how it was produced. With greater transparency, consumers can choose foods that are good for their body and support a healthy diet.
3. It’s Good for Your Community
Buying locally grown food supports local farms, which supports the health of the local economy. Local food also builds relationships between growers, restaurants, and consumers. This greater sense of community only encourages further investment in the local economy and food system. When the community supports local growers and farm-to-table restaurants, this also increases public knowledge about agriculture, nutrition, and health.
Another benefit of eating local food is developing a deeper connection with the food itself. Many people have limited knowledge of how their food is grown and produced. By getting to know local growers, you can rebuild your connection to the food you eat. Farm-to-table restaurants also help bridge this gap by providing seasonal dishes prepared with fresh local ingredients.
Benefits of Eating Local Wichita Food
Eating locally grown food benefits the environment, your health, and the economy. Plus, it tastes delicious! Regardless of the reason why eating local food matters to you, you can enjoy numerous benefits when you choose to enjoy locally grown food from farmer’s markets, grocery stores, or farm-to-table restaurants in Wichita.
1. Better Nutrition and Freshness
Local food does not need to travel as far, so it can be grown without preservatives, hormones, and other chemicals that can alter the natural nutrient content of the food. Because of this, locally grown food generally offers better nutritional value than food transported from across the country or around the world.
Locally grown food is also consumed fresh, which is when it has the highest nutrient content. Vegetables and fruits lose nutrients after they are harvested because of respiration and enzyme activity. Generally speaking, the farther food has to travel after it is picked, the less nutritional value it provides to the consumer.
Food that is harvested before it is ripe may also contain fewer nutrients than food which is allowed to ripen fully on the plant. Because local food can be picked at its prime, it offers better nutritional value and is as fresh as it can be.
2. Better Flavor
Fresher food also means better flavor.
When foods are grown in season and consumed fresh, they naturally have fuller and more complex flavors. Buying local foods in season also means they are never treated with chemicals for artificial ripening or preservatives for long-distance transportation. Compared to imported food which can taste bland due to preservatives and pesticides, locally grown food is bursting with rich and delicious flavor.
Consumers can experience food as it was meant to taste, whether they are dining at a restaurant serving local ingredients in Wichita or enjoying fresh produce from one of the city’s local farmer’s markets.
3. Free of Pesticides and Chemicals
Local food is often grown without the use of pesticides and other chemical treatments. Small-scale farmers can use natural or organic pest repellants to protect their crops, instead of the chemical pesticides used by most commercial farms. Local meat and poultry are often raised without the use of hormones and preservatives. This results in more nutritious food that is safer to consume, and it benefits the health of the environment, too.
Because consumers can connect directly with local growers through farmer’s markets and CSAs, this also promotes accountability. When consumers care about how their food is produced, farmers are held accountable for practicing sustainable and environmentally-friendly farming. Consumers will keep coming back to support farmers producing delicious and nutritious locally grown food.
4. Reduced Food Miles
The distance food travels from the producer to the consumer is commonly known as “food miles.” As a product accumulates more food miles, more fuel is consumed and more emissions are produced during transportation. Imported food products may travel thousands of miles before they reach grocery store shelves or restaurant tables.
Reducing food miles by buying local food lowers the amount of energy and fossil fuels it takes to get your food to your plate. The transportation of locally grown food produces less air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. By buying local food and eating at restaurants in Wichita with locally sourced ingredients, you can reduce your carbon footprint and do something kind for the environment.
5. Improved Food Safety
When food is transported from the other side of the world, it changes hands several times — from the supplier to the carriers to the grocer to your kitchen. This increases the possibility of food contamination and spoilage. With almost one in 10 people falling ill due to contaminated food each year, food safety is an increasingly important issue for consumers.
Local food promotes food safety with a shorter supply chain and closer distance from the supplier to the consumer. When food is transported from local farms to markets or restaurants in the area, it often changes hands just once and may travel only a few miles.
6. Greater Consumer Choice
For consumers who care about food sourcing and sustainability, locally grown food offers greater transparency and choice. By talking with growers at farmer’s markets or chefs providing farm-to-table experiences in Wichita, consumers can learn a lot about how and where their food was produced. This transparency allows consumers to make informed decisions about where they dine and buy their groceries. Consumers can also find local food products that are organic, hormone-free, and preservative-free, plus many other options to match their preferences.
Locally grown food may also offer more choices of unique fruits, vegetables, and other products. Local farmers often grow diverse varieties of foods that you may not normally see on your grocery store shelves. By growing crops with more genetic diversity, small-scale farms also help improve the biodiversity of the local ecosystem.
7. Preserves Farmland
When you enjoy local produce from a market or CSA in Wichita, you keep small farms in business and preserve local farmland. Farmland provides habitat, shelter, and food for a variety of animals, insects, and birds. When farmland is developed for commercial or industrial use, these creatures must find homes elsewhere or they cannot survive. Locally grown food benefits the environment by maintaining green spaces in your community.
8. Supports the Local Economy
Another benefit of buying locally sourced food is supporting your local economy. When you visit locally sourced restaurants in Wichita, your money goes back to farmers in the area. Local farmers can then support local feed suppliers or hardware stores, pay their employees, and even dine at local restaurants themselves. Generally speaking, buying local keeps money within your regional economy, while purchasing from international suppliers takes money away from local stores, businesses, and workers.
When you buy local food directly from farmers or through CSAs and markets, local farmers also receive a higher percentage of the profits. Local farmers also spend less on transportation and distribution costs, which puts even more money back into their pockets. Local farmers can then enjoy a living wage and continue to invest in the community by creating jobs and supplying local restaurants.
9. Promotes Community Engagement
Buying food locally builds connections between consumers and the farmers and restaurants in their area. By talking with local growers and visiting restaurants serving local ingredients in Wichita, consumers can learn about the Heartland region and develop a deeper sense of community.
When you buy food locally, you also demonstrate greater caring about the issues that impact the environment and the agricultural industry in your area. Consumers have plenty of incentive to invest in the local community and continue to support local markets and farm-to-table restaurants in the Witchita area.
Experience Locally Grown Food at Chisholm’s American Beef & Ale House
At Chisholm’s American Beef & Ale House, we understand the benefits of locally sourced foods and make it a top priority to serve the freshest local foods to our customers. Our rotating menu features delicious seasonal dishes prepared with locally raised meats and the finest local produce in Wichita. Enjoy a prime cut of beef paired with summer vegetables or a delectable dessert featuring the flavors of fall. Visit Chisholm’s any time of year for a farm-to-table experience highlighting the best local foods of the Midwest.
Not only does Chisholm’s source ingredients from local farms, but we also craft dishes and design pairings inspired by the culture and history of Wichita. Chisholm’s offers comfort food from the Heartland with a modern twist to thrill any palate. Enjoy your meal with a local ale or an inventive signature cocktail for a complete dining experience.
Give us a call at 316-945-1966 or make a reservation online to experience a taste of the Heartland at Chisholm’s American Beef & Ale House.