Cedar Trails Celebrates Earth Month with Farm to Table Dining

The last week of April is a special time for the culinary department at Cedar Trails Senior Living Freeburg, IL. 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 am making is grilled pork steaks, sautéed asparagus, baked potato, homemade bread, and strawberry shortcake. The locally sourced items I’ll be using include pork steaks, asparagus, strawberries, and bread. I’ll be sourcing my ingredients from these local businesses: Waller’s Market in Lively Grove Il., Shirwin Farms in Lenzburg, IL., and Eckert’s Country Store in Belleville, Il

The dish I chose is a local favorite. Our residents do like grilled pork steaks on an open fire, and they like to sit outside with us, to watch and smell. Homemade bread is a smell they especially enjoy and when it is done, they like to put real butter on it. Asparagus is great sautéed in extra virgin olive oil with some seasoning on top, but still with a little crunch to it.

I did not grow up in this country, but I asked staff that grew up in this area about their childhood memories of eating local ingredients. Sheila spoke of her dad having a huge garden when they were growing up. She and her siblings loved to go to the garden, pick the fresh vegetables, and eat them right away. They helped him freeze and can the fresh vegetables.

Sustainable farming has a big impact in our area. A lot of our local produce is sold in the grocery stores, farmers markets and on farms. Our corn fields, soybean fields, winter wheat fields, and clover fields help feed livestock for our farmers. Much of the livestock goes to our local meat markets for butchering and sells to the locals.

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!