From time to time, it takes a smarting slap to my fleshy cheek to wake me up.

Now, we all do it. Each of us falls into our patterns. It seems like when our heads know we are headed to the grocery store, the car seemingly automatically takes us there. It’s just a short drive. I don’t know about you, but often I don’t really even remember getting there. It just happens.

In the opposite direction — but within the same distance from my home — is a lovely, locally owned grocery: Local Harvest. I know the folks who own and operate it. I believe in what they do. I support the local farmers and purveyors they champion. Other than to cover Local Harvest for FEAST Magazine, however, I’d never shopped there independently. It just wasn’t part of my usual, automated route.

Recently, Local Harvest made a public plea. They asked for the community’s help to keep them going. They published a lengthy and detailed business plan; I kicked in my $50. So did a lot of other people, and they stayed open. Now, my friends, is when the rubber hits the road. What is it going to take to compel each of us to follow through to take the next step and SHOP at Local Harvest?

For me, Whole30 got me in motion. This diet protocol is Paleo-based, which means it focuses on clean protein, vegetables, fruits, and specific fats, while ditching all of the processed junk, sugar, soy, dairy, and booze. This is one of those protocols that has challenged what I think and what I think I know.

When my husband, Mark, and I committed to Whole 30, I began to think about where to source my meat. Based on what I read in It Starts with Food, I knew my shopping habits were going to have to change. I was going to have to think about what I was going to buy, and by extension where I was going to buy what we needed.

It Starts with Food authors, Dallas & Melissa Hartwig, offer up this idea: You are what you eat what they eat. Long story short: When cows and chicken and pigs eat grain-based, antibiotic-steriod-growth-hormone-influenced food, so will you when you have that steak, or breast, or chop, or loin. Get it? Yeah … that’s kind of powerful stuff. So, to engage fully with Whole30, I knew I would need to source proteins that are grass-fed and organic (beef, lamb, bison, etc.); pastured and organic (poultry, pork, rabbit, etc.); are grass-fed/pastured and organic (processed meats, like bacon); and are not factory-farmed and do not have added sugar, MSG, sulfites, or carrageenan.

More often than not, it is your local rancher who raises livestock that is fed a little bit differently. In St. Louis, that means you’ll find it available in grocery stores that approach things a little bit differently; like Local Harvest.

Maddie Earnest, the bright-eyed sprite who is one-half of the dynamic duo who owns and operates the grocery, has a real passion for responsible meat production. She has visited the farms. Maddie’s seen the cows, and the pigs, and chickens, and she’s selected the best our region has to offer. The following is a sampling of what you’ll find at Local Harvest*:

Missouri Grass Fed Beef: Cattle from Missouri Grass Fed Beef is grass fed and grass finished. The cows do not eat a diet that is bolstered with corn or grain. Additionally, the animals do not receive any antibiotics, steroids, or growth hormones.

Kingsdale Farm: A very small producer in Franklin County, the Kingsdale herd is kept to a maximum of 20 cows. Their herd grazes on pastures that have not been treated with chemicals or pesticides, and the animals never receive antibiotics, steroids, or growth hormones.

Buttonwood Farms: Located in California, Missouri, Buttonwood Farms raises chickens and turkeys that are raised on pasture and all-natural feed. The birds do not receive antibiotics.

Geisert Farms: The pigs on this farm are raised on pasture and are allowed to root around in the dirt and eat what’s left over from the other crops – like pumpkins – raised on Geisert Farms. The pigs are never given antibiotics, steroids, or growth hormones.

Naked Bacon: Dry cured in St. Genevieve, Missouri, Naked Bacon offers real flavor with no nitrates, nitrites, phosphates, or chemicals. For people like me who are engaging with the Whole30, be sure to look for the packaging that says, “No Added Sugar.” Yes, that flavorful stuff is for us!

In short, Local Harvest is the only grocery in my neighborhood that offers us the protein options Mark and I will need to succeed with the Whole30. In turn, I’m thrilled to shop the little grocery store in which I believe. It’s a relationship that has been a long time coming.

One final thought: While it was good to donate to the cause to keep Local Harvest going, that’s not the end. Everyone who donated – and I start with myself – should take the next step and shop the business that motivated such a strong sense of community stewardship.

The sting of the slap has brought me out of my fog. I’m really thinking about both my shopping and nutritional habits. Now that I’ve put my money where my mouth is, it’s time for me  to Eat It, St. Louis!

Local Harvest
3108 Morganford
St. Louis, MO 63116

*Local Harvest works with many local producers and purveyors, including other meat suppliers. Go in, be open, and let yourself be surprised by what you find!

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