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Eat Local, Eat Fresh

Indian River County’s small farmers are struggling to meet a growing demand for fresh produce from chefs and consumers alike.

White Rabbit Acres sells a diversity of organic produce direct to the public at an on-site store.

White Rabbit Acres sells a diversity of organic produce direct to the public at an on-site store.

At growing numbers of mostly beachside eateries, produce on the plate on any given afternoon was clinging to the earth that very same morning – or at least as much of it harvested from nearby fields. The buy-local phenomenon noticeably improves the taste of many a dish while reducing our collective carbon footprint. It also lowers the odds of food contamination by shortening the journey from farm to fork. Indian River County has about 10 farming operations, ranging from Kevin O’Dare’s ten-acre Osceola Organic Farm just west of the Indian River Mall to B&W Quality Growers’ expansive watercress and arugula farms in Fellsmere.

At The Wave Kitchen & Bar, Chef Michael Amaral utilizes as much lesser-traveled produce – citrus, poultry and fish – as he can get his hands on. Heirloom tomatoes, spring mix and micro-greens hail from Osceola Organic Farm 10 miles to the west. Multiple other greens, basil, shitake mushrooms, and hard-to-find baby English cucumbers come from Pure Produce, a hydroponics farm just over the county line in Micco. The citrus in the vinaigrette is also Indian River grown. A short supply chain is the logical choice for Amaral, the son of a chef and a butter-making mom who grew up in rural Massachusetts. The family homestead included not only a vegetable garden but veal calves, geese, chicken and a beloved cow named Moo.
 

Read the entire article in the March 2012 issue