It’s a Lifestyle Choice to Buy Local Food

by Blake Herzog

The Greater Prescott area is better known for its ranching than its farming, but there’s enough of both to support a thriving local food scene, with a farmers market with nearly 50 vendors that sell crops to restaurants, as well as residents eager to join the movement. 

Advocates of shopping for local food say it’s fresher and healthier, retaining more flavor and nutrients than what’s been shipped in from a distant state or country. It also supports your community economically while reducing the environmental impact of your shopping choices. 

In their own words, local experts explain the why, where and how of shopping and eating local.

John Panza, Owner and Executive Chef BiGA|
623 Miller Valley Road, Prescott

“We would much rather support small farms around this area than outsourcing everything to larger corporations. With that, in turn, it also keeps the money and the economics going inside of this small community. Instead of spending all our money at big corporations and sending it overseas, or wherever it may go, we know that our money is staying here in Prescott and in northern Arizona. And with that, in return comes support from these other farms and stuff, and they in turn spend their money locally. 

“And it’s all this kind of circle community event going on that keeps all the money and keeps the economics here where it should be. 

“As far as quality of ingredients, it surpasses anything you can buy from larger companies, getting things local and getting things picked the day of or the day before you get them make some last so much longer in your restaurant. But the freshness and the good taste of that food is just unmatched. You can’t find it any other way than to shop and support local. 

“We’ve also built a lot of strong relationships with the farms and the farmers and different ranchers where our kids know their kids. And we see complete community support from everyone. It’s really cool to see us go to the market, and our kids go run off with some of the farmers’ kids and play with them. And we’re talking with the farmers and building relationships that way, talking about next year and what to grow for next year. And what we can play with on our menu. 

“We change probably about 25% to 30% of our menu every week based off the local farms and the Prescott Farmers Market. And what we find there, most of our entrees, some of our appetizers, our soups, a sandwich once in a while, is all inspired just by the local food, the local produce that we find. And then in turn, that means we have to be very adaptable with our menu and kind of go with the flow of things. Because you know, one week I can order a bunch of carrots and they’re really small, and I can cook them a certain way. And then the next week, they grew more, and they’re a lot bigger.”

Ryan Peters, Executive Chef/Owner
FARM Provisions
148 N. Montezuma St., Prescott

“Here are some of our locally sourced ingredients, where we get them from, and dishes they are used in.

“Whipstone Farms, Paulden — Red and yellow onions, rainbow carrots, basil, tomatoes, fennel, leeks, arugula, mint, parsley, turnips, Chioggia beets, chili peppers, heirloom squash, cucumbers, wholly smoked and split-tooth hot sauces, and more.

“There are many dishes that use these ingredients including goat cheese salad, salmon entree, short rib entree, sea bass entree, tomato gazpacho, burrata, squash pasta and many more. 

“AZ Grass Raised Beef Company, Chino Valley — Grass-fed burgers and grass-fed New York strip.

“Mount Hope Wholesale, Cottonwood — All spices, nuts, sun-dried strawberries, figs, agave nectar, tahini, dried sweet corn, etc.

“Prescott Roasters Prescott Valley — All coffee and espresso.

“Crows Dairy Farms, Buckeye — Goat cheese.

“All of our beers on tap are local to Arizona.”

Kaolin Randall, Director of Community Outreach, Prescott Farmers Market
900 N. Iron Springs Road (Saturdays)
119 W. Goodwin St. (Wednesdays)

“So, summer vegetables, summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, roasted chilies, that sort of thing, they’re a little bit late this year. But you know, in a month, those things won’t be around anymore. It just is a case of weather. And you know, not everyone has a greenhouse, they’re just out the elements. We’re all subject to that, of course.

“There will be spinach and chard and collard greens, hardier things, along with the radishes, more the root vegetables, still. Carrots are kind of available year-round. We’ll have pumpkins of course, they’re starting to pop, and butternut squash, things like that.

“You know, it’s a lifestyle choice to choose to buy local food versus what’s in the grocery store. So there’s a learning curve there for people who come in the summer and things are super abundant, and everybody loves eating tomatoes and peppers and things like that, and then it’s kind of like pumpkin spice season and then winter vegetables are boring to some people. So it just becomes an exercise of being creative with what you’re making and you know, maybe falling in line with FARM Provisions and BiGA because they’ll be using some of those winter ingredients.

“First of all, come to the market. It’s coming out and making the relationships with the people who grow your food personal. You don’t know who grew the tomato in the grocery store, but you know who grew the tomato at the market because they’re right there selling it to you. One of the cool things about the Prescott Farmers Market is that we’re producer-only, which means that everyone who sells something makes or grows that product. There is no reselling.”