Community Ag Alliance introduces Eat Local Challenge — Are you game?

Lucky 8 Ranch in the news!

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Community Agriculture Alliance has issued a challenge to Routt County residents and Yampavores — those who eat food from the Yampa Valley — for the next four weeks, Aug. 18 through Sept. 15.

Through Sept. 15, the nonprofit is asking those who buy food at grocery stores or restaurants to think twice before making their purchases. The Eat Local Challenge encourages people to dedicate most or part of a diet to eating locally raised or produced food.

"The ultimate goal is to have people in the area become more aware of the ways they can buy local food and what's available here in the Yampa Valley," said Michele Meyer, CAA local food and products coordinator. "On a small scale, people may not see it, but we have such a wide variety of what's being raised and produced here."

How to Eat Local and get involved in the challenge:

Step 1: Join the Yampavore Eat Local Challenge Facebook group

Step 2: Set a goal. Decide how much of the food you eat will be local food. You can choose a percentage, dollar amount of your weekly food budget or another goal you come up with. Share your goal and track efforts with weekly posts about how it's going.

Step 3: Share a recipe, post photos, give suggestions and new ideas on how to find and eat food from the Yampa Valley. Participants who post online will automatically be entered for CAA's weekly prize drawings.

Meyer said goal setting could be as simple as making sure one item at every meal is locally sourced or maybe allocating 50 percent of a budget to be spent on local food.

"Before, the general public was fast-food focused, but now, people are more aware of what they are eating, where it comes from and the story behind their food," said Adele Carlson, owner of Sand Mountain Cattle Co., one of the CAA Market producers. "There are still kids who don't know where cheese or beef in a hamburger comes from, but local producers across the country are bringing a lot more to light each year."

Although area residents have been producing food for awhile, Meyer said CAA has recently seen a significant increase in the number of "new" producers added to the list of producers who are part of the online CAA Market.

The market, which allows patrons to shop for and buy local products, lists over 60 local and regional producers and offers everything from grass-fed beef to locally roasted coffee and farm fresh eggs.

Meyer said product availability varies by season but also includes micro greens, wheat berries, grass-fat lamb, pork, honey and homemade pies, jam, bread, tea, soaps, lotions and more.

"There is so much more being done here compared to a year, even six months ago," Meyer said.

Whether it’s someone starting a new business or a 4-H group's livestock, Meyer said the money spent on these products stays local and in turn builds a stronger economy and meaningful connections.

"I think it's important to try and keep everything as local as you can within your means because it really does make a difference and helps out our community and the agriculture community in our area," said Nicholas Osadchuk, owner of Lucky 8 Ranch, another CAA Market producer selling USDA buffalo meat, eggs and spice mixes.

"The first place I was able to sell eggs was through the CAA Market, and now, I have added the bison meat and spice line to the mix," Osadchuk said. "CAA helped us get our name out there and pushed us in the right direction to understand the regulations and businesses or restaurants interested in offering our products."

"Seeing people's interest and fascination of where their food comes from gives me a sense of pride and hope for the future," added Mark Berkley, owner of Innovative Ag. "In the short time CAA has been doing the local online marketplace, they've done phenomenal work ,and we need to keep it going and keep hitting it home with the message that this is how to support your community, your neighbors, your environment – basically everything you could hope to do on a positive level."

Ways to eat local in the Yampa Valley:
  • Grow your own food. Whether you have a backyard garden or grow herbs in a sunny window, it can be very rewarding and a simple way to eat fresh.

  • Buy or trade for local food with neighbors and friends. If you know someone who has backyard chickens or raises animals, they just might be wiling to sell, trade or share their local products.

  • Shop online at the CAA Market . They offer year-round, weekly ordering of local food and products with pick up at their downtown location.

  • Seek out local products at grocery stores, shops and the farmers market. Look for the Colorado Proud name and logo.

  • Ask. Several restaurants source their food locally, check the menu and be sure to ask.

Meet the producers:
  • Mark Berkley, Innovative Ag

Planting its first seed in June 2014, Innovative Ag Colorado now produces 12 varieties of microgreens, edible flowers, herbs and now mushrooms. They also are experimenting with bees. They use sustainably-minded growing systems and utilize up-cycled and re-purposed materials whenever possible, allowing for maximum efficiency and reduced ecological footprint.

  • Adele Carlson, Sand Mountain Cattle Co.

A family-owned and operated cattle operation in Clark, Sand Mountain Cattle Co. raises Red Angus/Red Angus Cross with 250 mother cows and 30 beef steers. They produce USDA grass-fed beef and 100 percent beef hot dogs with practices that are all natural — no hormones, antibiotics or animal by-products.

  • Nicholas Osadchuk, Lucky 8 Ranch

Lucky 8 Ranch offers USDA bison meat, fresh farm eggs and a line of 13 different spice mixes created by Osadchuk's family recipes.

  • Tammi Strickland, Flying Rhubarb Ranch

The small bird farm west of Steamboat raises quail, chickens and ducks. Through the market, Flying Rhubarb Ranch offers quail eggs that are prepared according to the guidelines of the CSU extension office, packed, labels and refrigerated.

To see the full list of producers, visit their profile pages on the CAA website to learn about their practices, backgrounds and ingredients.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1.

#bison #local #meat #eggs #Lucky8Ranch

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