For the past year, I've been marketing director of Sappington Farmers Market in St. Louis, MO. I'm also one of the farmers (in my case, retired farmer and farmer/advocate) who purchased the market.
We are the only farmer-owned grocery store that I know of. I'd love to hear from you if you know of others.
Our store is a 23,500-foot neighborhood-style grocery store that specializes in produce and in local meats, cheese and dairy products as well as local produce. It's my job to let people know about that in as many creative ways as I can think of.
For the past week, I've been hosting my family reunion in my little cottage by Current River. I've had guests from St. Louis; Memphis; Oak Ridge, TN; Clinton, TN; San Antonio, TX; and upstate New York as well as Escondido, CA. My brother and his family who live near me were also with us.
I asked each of them to bring foods local to their area and I provided a plethora of our local goods, some I had grown and many of which I purchased at Sappington Farmers Market.
What a feast we all had. We started the reunion off last Wednesday night with a potato salad made with local eggs (purchased from Sappington), potatoes I grew mixed in with potatoes I purchased from Sappington, celery and onions from my garden and homemade pickle relish.
The centerpiece of that meal was smoked brisket smoked at Sappington Market. The brisket came from Missouri's Best Beef Cooperative and is sold under the label Ranchers' All-Natural Beef (one of our owners is a member of the cooperative.) We also cooked 27 ears of corn fresh from Prouhet Farms (purchased at Sappington) and had cukes from the garden and Arkansas tomatoes. (Missouri tomatoes are in at Sappington as of July 1). For dessert we had cupcakes made from zucchini and lots of chocolate.
Another night we had make-your-own pizzas, with dishes all over the table filled with organically-grown garden-fresh produce. Cheese was local to Missouri and to the states from which our guests had traveled. We had some excellent New York cheeses.
The most interactive and very local dish was a gumbo we all worked together on. My brother cooked about 15 pounds of the Missouri pond-raised shrimp we sell at Sappington and we all pitched in with shelling and deveining. In the meantime, he was busy making a roux and adding the other ingredients. I felt like I was in Louisiana. Another night we had farm-fresh lamb from Tennessee. One of our travelers brought artisan beer from Tennessee much like the artisan beer from Charleville vineyard that we sell at Sappington. Fitz's Root Beer from St. Louis was the most popular drink over-all.
Throughout the reunion, we kept the table and counters filled with bowls of fresh-cut veggies and fruits. It was a tasty feast filled with health-giving antioxidants.
With twenty-five people eating for six days, we made a big dent in the local produce of several states and enjoyed each other's company immensely. Between meals we frolicked in Current River. Everyone felt great even though the temperature was hovering around 100 degrees most of the time. That fresh food keeps people feeling young and active.
I'm already planning the food for our next reunion. I feel certain it will be as good as this year's-and that's saying a lot.