Sep 9, 201510:44 AMCulture
Fun and Culture in the Mid-State
Radish & Rye
The food at the grocery store and the food at a local food stand seem generally similar. That is, until you turn a tomato over and see that it’s from Mexico. Big-name grocery stores are so conveniently located close to home that it's hard to remember some of the produce has traveled hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles to get there.
So where are all the Pennsylvania tomatoes? This is surely a state full of farmers and agriculture, and there are definitely options when it comes to finding the local food.
One of many places you can find food grown closer to home is right in Midtown Harrisburg. At the far end of the brick building at the Broad Street Market lies Radish & Rye Food Hub, a stand run by husband-and-wife owners, Dusty and Julia James.
Since the Harrisburg natives took the stand over in April from the owners of The Millworks, they have added to inventory and made it their own. The rustically decorated stand carries a plethora of local food products, arranged on wooden crates and sourced from businesses and farms close by.
The farms they get their vegetables from are located only 45 minutes from the market, sometimes less, and the food grown on those farms is picked only a few days before it is delivered. The packaged foods are from small Pennsylvania businesses, and their meat comes from Pennsylvania-raised animals.
“It’s just more delicious to get stuff when it’s been picked recently,” says Dusty.
The pair is in agreement that the main motivation behind running the stand is the quality that comes from local foods. “If you’re buying a tomato that was grown in Chile, it was probably bred for shelf life,” Julia adds, “not for taste.”
And the process of preparing a food for shelf life requires more than just setting it on the shelf. Vegetables and fruits are often picked before they are ripe, then waxed, gassed or irradiated during their long journey to the grocery store. This process improves the produce in appearance and gives customers a longer time to consider buying them.
Julia feels strongly about avoiding food that has to go through that process.
“If you’re buying something that was picked the day before, then you don't have to worry about [it being processed]. The farmer [has selected] for taste and quality, rather than how shelf-stable it is.”
The shelves at this stand are always changing; whether it be the addition of local cheeses and breads to the change in seasonal vegetables offered depends largely on the farmer’s harvest that week. The harvest also determines what kind of a vegetable they get. They have the flexibility to accept produce that is slightly unattractive but still completely edible.
Another perk of the stand is that they sell grass-fed and pasture-fed beef, which is also organic-certified and animal-welfare-approved.
“The animal-welfare-approved certification, to us, is almost a bigger deal than the organic certification,” explains Dusty. “It has a lot of similar standards, but it also mandates a lot more humane treatment of animals.”
The bar is set high in terms of quality when it comes to the food sold at this stand. Patrons can shop and eat with a clear conscious knowing everything offered to them is carefully selected and made or grown close to home. And the choice is made that much easier when you’re buying from a couple who enjoys food.
“I think that we definitely approach this from more of a food level than an environmental level or health level,” says Dusty. “We just really love good food.”
Radish & Rye Food Hub is located at Broad Street Market and open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 a.m. To learn more, visit radishandryefood.com.