Locally Grown Food Tastes Better and is Better For You, Area Businessmen Say
Darcie Flansburg, Staff Writer
July 21, 2007
REDLANDS - The Farm Artisan Foods chef and proprietor Roberto Argentina recently posed the question "do you know who grows your food?" and then quickly answered - "we do."

"There is much talk these days about unsafe ingredients making their way into our food supplies," Argentina said. "There is also talk about the environmental costs of importing food from thousands of miles away."

Knowing this, Argentina has made it possible for his restaurant to glean most of its produce and other items from within 10 miles of Redlands.

"Our friend Doug Powell in San Timoteo Canyon grows most of our summer vegetables, and our heirloom tomatoes come to us from Maria Elser in exotic Yucaipa," Argentina said. "She also supplies our quail eggs. Our regular eggs come from Norco."

Argentina hopes to eventually obtain all of his ingredients locally.

"We are working with Doug on planning crops that will supply all of our vegetables and hope to have seeds in the ground from October on," Argentina said.

All of Argentina's fish and meat are produced in the United States and he is working to make them all California products.

"We may soon be able to buy poultry from Norco High School agriculture students. They are currently working to find a California-approved processor for their chickens," he said.

According to Tim Krantz, University of Redlands environmental studies professor, buying local food saves on shipping costs and fuel, which is a tremendous savings on energy and green house gas emissions.

"Local food is fresher and therefore more nutritious," Krantz said. "And it saves on all of the excessive packaging that accompanies most store bought food."

If a person insists on buying groceries at supermarkets, Krantz suggests seeking out regional items.

"California cheese represents a better choice than Wisconsin cheese," Krantz said.

Local water, such as Arrowhead, which is bottled in Banning, is better than Fiji water, according to Krantz. Fresh produce is better than packaged or frozen, not just for energy savings but it is also more nutritious, he said.

"There are many organic alternatives now, from tomato paste to refried beans, milk or wine," Krantz said. "One might pay a little more, but the health benefits and assurance that one is not consuming pesticides and growth hormones equates to a better-quality life."

Redlanders can purchase locally grown food at Gerrard's Market, Olive Avenue Market, the University of Redlands commons and the city's weekly Market Night, held on Thursdays on State Street.

According to Heather Smith, senior special programs coordinator for the Downtown Redlands Business Association, seven of the farmers at Market Night are from the immediate area.

Farquhar Farms, Cunningham and Tom Archibald of Redlands, Elser's Country farm of Yucaipa, and RS Farm, Cervantes Farms and Frank Corona of Riverside all offer locally grown food.

According to Gerrard's owner Tom Reingrover, the locally grown produce available at Gerrard's varies by season. In the fall the market offers apples from Oak Glen. Strawberry season just ended, but Gerrard's had strawberries from a local farmer; and they are now in the process of buying cantaloupe and honeydew melons, and squash from a farmer in San Timoteo Canyon.

Reingrover said the market gets their tomatoes from Yucaipa, their oranges from the Foothill Groves in Redlands and their eggs from Yucaipa and Cherry Valley.

"We periodically have all kinds of things coming in," he said.

Reingrover often goes to Market Night to seek out other local growers, knowing, quite simply, that local growers just offer a better product.

"It tastes better," he said.

According to Reingrover, locally grown food is left on the tree or the vine longer, while commercially grown produce is picked when it's still green so that it doesn't spoil before it reaches the store.

Locally grown produce, according to Reingrover, is often picked the same day that it is delivered.

"You can't get any fresher than that," he said.