May 5, 2011 7:06 PM by Carolyn Cerda

Eating Local Part 1

We've all seen the ads encouraging us to shop local. That got us asking, how often do folks eat local? We found that there's a circle of food buyers and sellers that help boost Acadiana's economy.

A routine morning in the kitchen at "Jolie's Bistro" in Lafayette consists of the chef and his staff preparing the ingredients for the day's meals. Those ingredients are fresh, from area farmers, artisans and fishermen.

"Instead of opening up a bag coming out of the freezer, you're going to find something that you're going brush the dirt off of," said Chef Manny Augello. "It gives you more respect and more pride in the final product."

Chef Augello says much of the seafood at Jolie's comes straight from the Gulf of Mexico, through Abbeville and the produce comes from 19 Southern farms.

One of those farms, is "Market Basket Youngsville." Chickens, eggs, fruits, vegetables and herbs are grown there. They're raised organically, meaning modern synthetic inputs, like pesticides and chemical fertilizers are not used.

"It's fresher, there are no preservatives, there are certainly no chemicals," said farmer Charles Thompson. He and his wife, Karen, sell products from their 10 acre farm to everyday people and to Acadiana restaurants, like Jolie's.

The Thompson's say tending to Market Basket Youngsville is a round the clock job, but they say, the daily grind is worth the reward.

"It's awesome to be able to plant a seed and just watch it bloom into something that is good for you health wise, good tasting... and to be able to spread that," said Karen DeShazo.

"People get to know their farmer," said Thompson. "They can actually come out here and see how its handled and see how its grown."

Because it's local, the fruits and vegetables are used at their peak, during their normal season. This means, customers won't see out of season items on the menu.

"They know what they're getting is real," said Chef Augello. "They know what they're getting is from people they know and it's not coming off a truck coming from 3,000 miles away. It's coming from right here at home."

"You put a face to the product," said Steve Stantillo, co-owner of Jolie's. "You know you're money's staying in the local area... so it's a win win."

Santillo says one downside to buying from local producers is the cost. It can sometimes be more expensive. But, he says the benefits far outweigh the price.

"Most of the farmers, it's not just a job it's a lifestyle to them," said Santillo. "So, when they come and put it into our hands, they've put all their passion into it. We take it and put all of our passion into it. So that it's the best nutrition you can get and the best flavor you can get."



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