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The Food Issue 2019

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CHANGE IS

HOMEGROWN

Heifer USA works with small-scale farmers and farmer-owned cooperatives in Arkansas to revolutionize the way people produce, sell and eat their food. With increased access to technical support and reliable markets, these farmers are using sustainably produced, local food to provide for their families and ignite change.

Learn more at Heifer.org/usa

Come see the change for yourself at Heifer Ranch in Perryville. We offer programs for farmers and anyone interested in sustainable agriculture. VOLUNTEER PROGRAM

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Learning opportunities available for new and seasoned LOCAL FOOD LOCAL FOOD farmers — learn more at www.heifer.org/trainings FOR LOCAL LOCAL TABLES Upcoming Topics: FOR TABLES

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Lamb and Small Ruminant Production | Sept. 20, 2018 Pasture Poultry Production | Sept. 21, 2018

Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training | Oct. 9, 2018 Scaling Up Your Produce Farm | Oct. 10, 2018 Grass-fed Beef Production and Finishing | Nov. 2018 Turkey Production and Processing | Nov. 2018

W W W. H E I F E R . O R G / R A N C H 8 5 5 . 3 H E I F E R (8 5 5 . 3 4 3 . 4 3 3 7 )


The Food Issue 2019

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DOS ROCAS BRINGS PARAGUAYAN AND HONDURAN FOOD TO TOWN A fresh take on traditional staples

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FIELD OF DREAMS Ralston Family Farms' exotic rice

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THE RECIPES Stick-to-your-ribs good

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EDIBLE FLOWERS A pretty plate makes a happy plate

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MICROGREENS Tiny greens, big opportunity

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2019 FARM + MARKET UPDATES What to expect at the farmers market + news about Dicamba

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ON T H E COV E R :

Photography by Matthew Martin.

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THE AG COUNCIL ofARKANSAS PROMOTING AGRICULTURE SINCE 1939

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We are committed to telling the story of row crop agriculture in Arkansas. We advocate for farmers and agricultural businesses to ensure the continued success of our great state.

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Is your agricultural business adequately protected in the event of a workplace injury? It is with Ag Comp! Ag Comp is an affordable and proven risk management policy for workplace injuries that protects Arkansas farms, agricultural businesses and employees. Learn more at AgCompSIF.com

Our Roots Are Planted Here, Too At Wright Lindsey Jennings, we’ve been serving the legal needs of Arkansas’ agricultural community for 119 years. Whether you are a producer, processor, distributor or supplier, we offer experience and guidance for a wide range of issues: • Labor & Employment

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SPRING HARVEST ISSUE - MAY 2019 SUMMER HARVEST ISSUE - JULY 2019 FALL HARVEST ISSUE - AUGUST 2019 Contact Katherine Daniels with story ideas or advertising opportunities at katherine@arktimes.com.

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ARKANSASFOODANDFARM.COM | THE FOOD ISSUE 2019

ALAN LEVERITT President alan@arktimes.com

Arkansas Times Limited Partnership 201 E. MARKHAM ST., SUITE 200 LITTLE ROCK, AR 72201 501-375-2985 All Contents © 2019 Arkansas Food & Farm


KISSED BY A DONKEY

S

Dominica is the jenny and her baby is Tristan.

unny days had been as rare as snow in Miami, so when the sky cleared about an hour before sunset, I found myself, bourbon in hand, perched on my hillside swing overlooking 20 acres of pasture. My mother is buried close by and sometimes I like to imagine she has the best farm view of us all. The pasture rolls out for a quarter-mile, boxed on three sides by limestone bluffs, a wetland forest and Bayou Meto. Off in the distance I could see our 25 sheep grazing in the second paddock accompanied by four guard donkeys. We have had more coyote or wild dog attacks on our sheep this fall and winter than we have ever had. The paddocks are surrounded by electrified wire but unlike years past, the wire has not stopped the animals from bursting through and tearing apart six sheep over the past few months. My ex-wife and I still farm together and she called me the other Saturday while I was at the farmers market in Hillcrest. She had come across a great deal, she reported. Donkeys are known to be great guard animals for sheep and she had found two for $500. The owner promised that the donkeys would not only kill coyotes and dogs, they would kill your cat if it wandered into the paddock. Well, I couldn’t resist that sales pitch and $500 for the pair is about half price, so I told her to go ahead with the purchase. A few minutes later I received another breathless call. He was willing to throw in two more donkeys for just $100 each. I am now donkey rich, as they say in the country. I have a brown jenny, a 6-month-old baby that really is cute and two way oversized black and white animals that look much more like mules that donkeys. I called the former owner and asked him if these were not indeed mules and he swore they were donkeys. I can talk tomatoes all day but could fill up this magazine with what I don’t know about donkeys. So all I could do is take him at his word, though, if I didn’t know better, I could have sworn I heard him laughing after he hung up the phone. Directly the sheep noticed me on the swing and, assuming I was there to feed them, began walking single file, led by GQ, our ram, across two fields and up the hill to surround me. The four donkeys brought up the rear. Soon everyone was grazing on the standing hay around the swing, and I resumed my bourbon reverie. A moment later I was startled to feel a hot breath on my ear. I turned only to find myself lip to lip with the big brown jenny, and that is when I was kissed by a donkey. She brushed her lips across mine and then pulled her head back, hoorawing and curling her lips up to reveal a fine set of teeth and about six inches of red gums. She was laughing as only a donkey can. Pretty cute, I thought, and then paused wondering if I had lived alone too long.

Alan Leveritt Publisher, Arkansas Food & Farm Arkansas Times Publishing 8

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THE FOOD ISSUE 2019 | ARKANSASFOODANDFARM.COM

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THE ANXIETY OF FARMING AND THE JOY OF COOKING

I

Lacey enjoys a salad at the farm-to-table Prestonrose Beer Farm.

worry with and about farmers a lot. I worry whether they’ll make enough to continue farming year after year, and I worry whether their children will continue in the profession. I worry over whether they’re given appropriate consideration in legislative issues. I worry about the continued health of their soil. But worry is not the most constructive use of time. Instead, I must remind myself to make calls to those who can effect change, spend money at the farmers market and restaurants that support local farms, and spend time educating those who don’t already understand the importance of farmers, farming and food. That importance isn’t just practical—something the Food Issue always reminds me of. After all, what I love about cooking isn’t just the therapeutic value of chopping vegetables. It’s the smell of beef browning in a skillet, the taste of a mushroom cooked in butter, sneaking a bite of cookie dough and the tick-tick of a timer counting down. Even better is flipping through an issue of Arkansas Food and Farm while I wait on my meal to finish cooking. And this issue is full of exciting information, including adding edible flowers to your plates, growing and using microgreens, the new Dos Rocas Paraguayan restaurant in Little Rock and a profile of family rice farmers in Atkins. Spring may not be here, but it is coming. I hope this issue will help invigorate your joy of cooking, reignite your passion about food and excite you for the season to come. Lacey Thacker Editor

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VISIT THESE FARMERS MARKETS DOWNTOWN FAYETTVEILLE SQUARE Saturdays: April - November, 7AM-2PM Thursdays & Tuesdays: April - Oct., 7AM-1PM Winter Market (indoors) at Ozark Natural Foods. Saturdays: December -March 9AM-1PM.

2019 SEASON OPENS APRIL 14, 2019 Located in the Bernice Garden at 1401 S. Main Street, Little Rock

A FOOD MARKET FOR LOCAL GROWERS AND PRODUCERS.

Hillcrest Farmers’ Market YEAR-ROUND

Buffalo National River

fayettevillefarmersmarket.org

Located on the sidewalk in front of Pulaski Heights Baptist Church, 2200 Kavanaugh, Little Rock Open year-round on Saturdays May-September, 7am-12pm October-April, 8am - 12pm

Skylark Cafe, Leslie

COME FIND YOUR ARKANSAS

ARKANSAS.COM

THE FOOD ISSUE 2019 | ARKANSASFOODANDFARM.COM

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Jack Sundell is a Little Rock restaurant legend. He and his wife opened The Root Café, which serves dishes crafted from Arkansas-grown produce, about seven years ago. It proved a winning recipe, and now, the couple has joined forces with Cesar Bordón and his wife, Adelia, and opened Dos Rocas last fall.

There’s a new flavor in downtown It originates from way, way south By Deborah Horn

D

os Rocas, with and its distinctive South American flavor, recently opened on Main Street in the SoMA district. The restaurant draws from centuries of Paraguayan taste and tradition, brought in by principal chef and co-owner Cesar Bordón. Food at Dos Rocas is prepared as Bordón was taught, which means empanadas and yuca are panfried, not baked. Firewood is expensive in rural Paraguay, and many don’t yet possess a kitchen stove or oven. The method results in foods that are rich and satisfying. Dos Rocas also pulls from a variety of tropical offerings like avocados, plantains and limes, and staples like yuca root, cactus, red beans and maize. And yes, the tortillas are handmade fresh every morning. A SECOND START Jack Sundell is a restaurant legend, having opened The Root Café nearly seven years ago. Sundell, along with his partner and wife, Corri Bristow-Sundell, constructed The Root’s menu around locally available produce, and while doing so he made connections. 12

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Some of those connections include talent like Bordón. “He started at The Root and did an excellent job as the lunch kitchen man,” Sundell says. He recounts how he and Bordón would grab a beer a few doors down at Midtown Billiards on Main Street after work, eventually devising a plan to open a place where they were comfortable and the libations were varied and home-produced. “We talked about how fun it would be to have a place where we wanted to hang out,” he remembers. Perhaps a pool table and dishes featuring a South American flare, Sundell and Bordón agreed as they floated the dream. Bordón and his wife, Adelia, jumped at the chance and were happy to rely on his expertise. “Jack has an awesome reputation. We were blown away by his offer,” Adelia says about the joint partnership. The couple saw this is an opportunity for Bordón to fulfill his dreams, and although Bordón works the open kitchen at the rear of Dos Rocas most days, Adelia held on to her day job at Heifer International as a Resource Development Associate.


A LATIN FLARE Even though Sundell had his Arkansas produce connections through The Root and he’d already gone through the process of opening a restaurant, he says rather matter of factly, “There have been a few bumps, but we just work through them.” Already there were places serving up Latin flavor, like Rosalinda’s Restaurant in Levy and Local Lime in West Little Rock, but none close on Main Street. Plus, it was the perfect time because SoMA was booming and there were few remaining vacant storefronts. And while they’ve only been open about four months, Dos Rocas has a growing fan base, like John Hofheimer, a longtime downtowner, who says he recommends the yuca fries and the guacamole dip, made with fresh cilantro and lime.

Bartender Katy Tipton serves up margaritas. It's a patron favorite at Dos Rocas on Main Street in Little Rock.

Dos Rocas offers many distinctive South American flavors, including traditional empanadas inspired by Cesar Bordón's native Paraguay.

Although more Mexican fare than Paraguayan, Dos Rocas offers street-style tacos. Owners Cesar Bordón and Jack Sundell say it's popular with their customers and tacos pair well with just about any local handcrafted beer.

FARM FRESH WHEN POSSIBLE Sundell has five years of Arkansas homegrown contacts, but the ingredients Cesar relies on are not always readily available. “It is very different,” Sundell says. They rely on Rabbit Ridge Farms in Bee Branch, the Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative in Clinton, and B&C Beef in Sheridan. “We get as much from local sources as possible,” but for staples like yuca, avocados and cactus, Dos Rocas turns to a Dallas distributor, and the maize comes from a non-GMO source in Mexico, Sundell says. LOCAL LIBATIONS The local craft scene in Arkansas is ever-expanding, so Sundell says narrowing their craft beer choices wasn’t easy. They settled on a few favorites from breweries including Lost Forty Brewing in Little Rock and Prestonrose Farm and Brewing Co. in Paris — Arkansas, that is. Sylvia Blain of Little Rock, who happens to be executive director of the Arkansas Brewers Guild and was instrumental in starting Central Arkansas’ local food movement, also recommends Prestonrose. Their street-type tacos are familiar to new customers, and Bordón says these pair well with a craft beer. “The better the beer, the better the pairing,” Sundell adds. Blain, a friend of Sundell and Corri, says the first time she went to Dos Rocas was simply out of support, but she goes back because of the beer offerings and tasty dishes. “They were entirely different than pupusas I have had previously. They were smaller and packed full of flavor. I really loved the fluffy corn tortilla,” she says. For mixed drinks, Dos Rocas relies on Little Rock production whenever possible. For instance, Sundell says they serve Rock Town Distillery’s vodka, basil vodka and barrel-aged rum. The margaritas are the favorite, Sundellsays. To that, Lou Wright of Little Rock, a self-described Dos Rocas taco fan, says, “I’m not surprised. I ordered one margarita but it was so good, I had a second.” THE FOOD ISSUE 2019 | ARKANSASFOODANDFARM.COM

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RALSTON FAMILY FARMS BY DWAIN HEBDA

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Harvesters bring in the crop.

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Nature’s Blend is a cross-pollinated blend of exotic and traditional rice. There was only a 3 percent chance of this rice crosspollinating, as rice is self-pollinating.

Giving a nod to the good Lord isn’t that uncommon among

farmers, considering how tightly their livelihood is bound up in the rain and soil and sun. It’s more rare when the Almighty waves back, however, as he did when Tim and Robin Ralston and family began sowing exotic red and purple aromatic rice varieties to serve niche markets. “Those two varieties were developed over the last 10 or 12 years, but they really haven’t gotten into the market because they’re so new and they’re so unique,” Tim said. “We’re in a position where it fits us great. We started with a handful of seeds and over the last four or five years we’ve developed it and blown it up.” One year, some of the exotics cross-pollinated with some volunteer traditional rice in the field. The result was a crop that grows a confetti of flavors, colors and textures that Ralston Family Farms markets as Nature’s Blend, although internally they have another name for it. “We also call it God’s Blend because that’s really the only way for it to come into effect,” Robin said. “There’s only a 3 percent chance of it crosspollinating, because rice is self-pollinating. So for it to do that was kind of a minor miracle.” It took a moment for the Ralstons to recognize the blessing that they’d been sent. Not really knowing what they had, they gave samples to Arkansas television personality P. Allen Smith and several chefs to get their opinion. “We primarily gave it to Chef Shane Henderson with Ben E. Keith,” Robin recalled. “We could have called it Chef Shane’s Rice, too, because we wouldn’t have it if he didn’t say, ‘Hey, you’re onto something here. This is great.’” 16

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“... they liked the fact that we could source the product all the way back to the field.” —Tim Ralston

Left to right: Tim Ralston, Robin Ralston, Willie Bruehwiler, Jennifer Bruehwiler, Hadley Ralston, Ashley Ennis, Jamie Ennis, Matthew Ralston (in back), Brittani Ralston. Will Bruehwiler and Ruby Bruehwiler on tractor.

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Ralston Rice comes in convenient, easy-to-store and easy-to-pour packaging.

Ralston Family Farms already had a thriving traditional rice operation going when it decided to become one of the few domestic growers of specialty rice varieties. As such, it’s landed accounts with retail, institutional, independent retailers and high-end grocery store clients. The farm also supplies rice to mail-order meal company Blue Apron, which was as captivated by the Ralstons’ field-to-fork operational practices—including conservation-forward no-till, zero-grade and surface watering techniques—as it was by the end product. “We were a good fit for them because they liked the fact that we could source the product all the way back to the field,” Tim said. “That gives them some transparency that they can offer to their customer.” Getting to this point took more than just planting unfamiliar rice varieties. It also took a carefully orchestrated business plan to produce rice in marketable quantities. Tim said there are good reasons why typical rice farmers stay away from nontraditional varieties. “Most production agriculture is geared on yield. Farmers grow what there’s a market for and what 18

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yields the most,” he said. “The typical Southern long grain rice, the hybrids, they’ll yield 200-plus bushels [per acre], where jasmine might yield more like 150 bushels.” Another major challenge is processing—or milling —the harvest as the vast majority of rice mills in the United States are owned by corporations that share the same mentality of efficiency through homogeneity. This meant growers have virtually no cost-efficient way to process nontraditional varieties short of the audacious step of building their own mill. Which, incidentally, is exactly what the Ralstons did. “[Mills] generally don’t deal in niche products because if you grow rice, she grows rice, and I grow rice and we deliver it to the mill, at some point it’s all going to end up in the same bin,” Tim said. “They don’t want to complicate life by having a bunch of different offerings.” Ralston’s facility, which has been in operation for a little more than a year, looms out of the Pope County landscape beside a phalanx of drying bins. The guts of the mill are a mélange of high-tech wizardry that cleans, inspects, sorts, color-grades and packages the


“We didn’t want to do it if the Lord didn’t lead us to it.” —Robin Ralston

company product, a growing percentage of which is of the exotic variety. Walking through the place at lunchtime­— on a day the sparkling production area was at rest and you can hear a grain of basmati drop— Tim paused and looked around with something approaching awe. It wasn’t that long ago this operation was just a distant point of light, but now it’s here and ready to take the operation to levels previously undreamed-of. “The rice mill is just another arm of the farm, really,” he said. “It allows us to be vertically integrated to where we can take it from the field all the way to the shelf.”

Neither Tim nor Robin holds a degree handy to engineering such a facility or the myriad sales and marketing details for bringing their exotic rice to market. Robin likes to joke the former high school sweethearts now have “honorary degrees” in all of the above and are assisted daily by their three children and their families who have all returned to work in the family business. And, she says, there’s something else, too. “The biggest factor in here was prayer,” she said. “We didn’t want to do it if the Lord didn’t lead us to it.”

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Arkansas Food and Farm has collected a variety of RECIPES from farms and restaurants around the state that range from side dishes to main dishes and from breakfast to dessert. We hope you'll enjoy recreating these in your own kitchen. And remember to tag #arkansasfoodandfarm in your food pics! PHOTOGRAPHY BY MATTHEW MARTIN | STYLING BY MANDY KEENER

Meat Sauce Macedonia Farms | Serves 8

INGREDIENTS: 2 lbs. lean ground beef 1 jar Bertolli Organic olive oil, basil, & garlic       tomato sauce 1 14 oz. can of organic petite diced tomatoes ½ cup dry red drinking wine ½ tsp. crushed red pepper ½ tsp. dried basil Kosher Salt Pepper

DIRECTIONS: Brown ground beef. Add sauce and diced tomatoes to beef. Add 1/2 cup of red wine. Season with crushed red pepper and dried basil. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Top your favorite pasta with sauce and sprinkle with grated Parmesan if desired. 20 ARKANSASFOODANDFARM.COM | THE FOOD ISSUE 2019

Leftover sauce makes a great pizza sauce on homemade crust.


Arkansas Tomato Pie Quiche INGREDIENTS For the dough: 3 cups flour 2 cups shortening 1 cup water (cold)

@ THE CORNER | Serves 8

For the filling: 1 Vidalia onion, julienned 2 tbsp. butter 4 large tomatoes, cored & diced ½ tsp. salt ½ tsp. sugar 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar 5 eggs 1 cup heavy cream ½ cup mayo 1 tbsp. chopped green onion 1 cup cheddar cheese ¼ tsp. baking powder ½ tsp. salt & pepper 5 slices fresh mozzarella 8 basil leaves, torn 1 tomato, sliced DIRECTIONS: First, prepare the dough. Preheat oven to 350°F. In the bowl of a food processor add 3 cups flour. Add half the shortening and pulse several times. Add remaining shortening and pulse until the mixture is in pieces the size of a pea. Slowly add water and continue to pulse until dough is formed. Remove from bowl and form into one large dough ball. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Once dough has chilled, flour a work surface and take half the dough and roll until about a ¼ inch thick. Carefully lift dough and lay it evenly in a heavily buttered pie plate. Push dough to fill all corners of the plate. Trim any overhanging dough to be flush with the outer edge of the pie plate. Shape crust as desired. Take a piece of parchment paper and cut a circle the size of the base of the pan. Lay over the dough and top with pie weights, dry beans or rice. Blind bake the dough for 15 minutes or

until a light brown. Remove pie shell from oven and let chill. For the filling: Preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter in a nonstick skillet. Add onion and cook on high for 2 minutes, reduce heat to low and slowly cook onions, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes or until an even rich brown color. Toss tomatoes in salt, sugar and balsamic and let strain in a colander for 15-30 minutes. Whisk eggs with heavy cream. Add mayo, green onion, cheddar cheese, baking powder, salt and pepper and

whisk until well incorporated. Layer tomatoes, caramelized onion, basil, mozzarella and top with egg mixture in pie shell and finish top layer with sliced tomatoes Bake for 45 minutes or until middle is firm and set. Turn oven on low broil for 3 minutes to achieve an extra crispy top. Remove from oven and let stand for 10-15 minutes. Serve with basil chiffonade, balsamic glaze or shredded parmesan.

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Schweinshaxe Wunderhaus | Serves 2

Gnocchi makes a perfect base for this savory dish!

INGREDIENTS: 4 fresh pork knuckles 2 large sliced sweet onions 4 cloves of garlic, cut in half 2 tbsp. Kosher Salt  1 tsp. Black Pepper 10 oz. of local beer. A lager or ale work well. DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350°. Place the sliced onions in the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish. Hum a little tune, 22

caressing each ham hock with salt and pepper, ensuring that all sides are generously coated. Add the garlic and beer to the baking dish. Nestle the hocks, broad side down, in the baking dish. Roast for about 4 hours, just until there’s some color on the skin. Baste those hocks with the beer mixture every hour or so, checking to make sure they haven’t given up on themselves and fallen into the gravy.

ARKANSASFOODANDFARM.COM | THE FOOD ISSUE 2019

If necessary, add a bit of water to the base of the dish. Baste one last time, then bump the oven up to 425° for the last 10-20 minutes of cooking so that the skin becomes crispy and golden brown. Allow to cool slightly, and then consume with gusto!


Roasted Cauliflower The Preacher’s Son | Serves 2 to 4

INGREDIENTS 1 head of cauliflower 4 oz. of chimichurri Sea salt to taste ½ cup of nutritional yeast DIRECTIONS Cut in half down the middle of the cauliflower. Trim off just the leafy parts and leave the core attached. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with good quality olive oil and a touch of sea salt. Roast in the oven at 450°, using convection if possible. Roast until golden brown all over or even a touch black (this will caramelize the natural sugars in the cauliflower). To finish the dish, remove the cauliflower from the oven and garnish with chimichurri spread evenly over the top. Season with sea salt and generously top with nutritional yeast. Enjoy immediately. THE FOOD ISSUE 2019 | ARKANSASFOODANDFARM.COM

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Bratwurst

Superior Bathhouse Brewery | Serves 8 INGREDIENTS: 8 JV Bratwurst 8 rustic hoagie bun caramelized onions Superior Pale Ale Beer Mustard (Made from scratch from Superior Bathhouse Brewery Beer) DIRECTIONS: Slice 3-5 onions. In a skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of oil until shimmering. Spread onions in skillet and allow to cook, stirring occasionally for around 45 minutes. Heat a separate skillet to medium. Cook bratwurst on each side for around 4 minutes before reducing heat and covering for around 10 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160°. Toast buns, add bratwurst, onions and mustard. Enjoy!

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don't forget the beer!


Marinated Beef Farm Girl Meats | Serves 6

mushrooms make this even better!

INGREDIENTS: 1 ½ lbs. stew meat 1 cup of barbeque sauce 1 cup of worsteshire sauce 1 cup of coffee liqueur 1 onion, sliced or diced 2 cups mushrooms (optional) butter DIRECTIONS: Place steak tips in a sealable container. Cover with liquids. Let sit in the fridge overnight. When ready to cook, put steak tips along with liquids in a skillet, cooking over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until it achieves a good simmer. While the meat cooks, heat a separate skillet on medium heat. Melt four tablespoons of butter in the skillet. Add mushrooms (optional). Cook until tender. Serve over mashed potatoes. Top with mushrooms.

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Carrot Romesco Boulevard Bread Company | Serves 6

INGREDIENTS: 5 carrots, peeled and halved ¼ cup garlic 1 lime, cut in half 1 yellow onion, quartered 1 tbsp. crushed red pepper ½ baguette sliced 1 cup mayo 1 cup olive oil ½ cup lime juice DIRECTIONS: Toss the carrots, garlic, lime, onion, red pepper and baguette in olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast carrots at 350° until tender. When cool, blend all ingredients. Mix in mayo, olive oil and lime juice. Serve. 26 26

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A great meal for spring!


Unstuffed Cabbage Honey Pies Bakery | Serves 8

INGREDIENTS: 1 lb. lean ground beef 2-3 garlic cloves minced ½ cup onion, chopped 2 cups carrots, chopped 1 small green cabbage head chopped (about 4 cups) 2 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce ½ cup water, chicken stock or beef stock 2 tsp. salt 1 tsp. pepper

DIRECTIONS: In a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven, brown ground beef, salt, pepper and garlic together. Cook until browned and crumbly, 5 to 7 minutes; drain and discard grease. Add cabbage, tomatoes, tomato sauce, liquid and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat, and simmer until cabbage is tender, about 30 minutes Adjust seasoning before serving. To make in advance, store in a large 9x13 Pyrex and reheat in the oven at 350° for 30-40 minutes.

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Braised Lamb The GriffIn Restaurant | Serves 8

INGREDIENTS: 5 lbs. lamb shoulder 1 lb. carrots cut into large pieces 1 lb. celery cut into large pieces 2-3 lbs. yellow onion cut into large pieces 1 oz. of each herb (parsley, thyme, and rosemary) 5 bay leaves (dried) 1 tbsp. crushed red pepper 5 cloves garlic 1 bottle red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon) 2 16-oz. cans chicken stock Salt Water

DIRECTIONS: Brine the lamb in a 2% salt solution for up to 12 hours. Remove from brine, set on a rack, and pat with paper towels to dry the surface. Heat a large pan (big enough for your piece of lamb) on the stovetop and add a small pool of canola oil to the bottom. Generously salt the fat cap on the lamb shoulder and sear that side down until there is a nice crust. Remove your lamb and place in a large oven-safe vessel large enough to hold the chicken stock, wine, vegetables and herbs. Add vegetables to the same pan in which the lamb was seared and cook gently for 5 minutes or so. Add the red wine and reduce by half. Once the red wine is reduced, add the chicken stock. When the liquid comes to a simmer, carefully pour the vegetables and liquid over the lamb. Make sure the lamb is three-quarters of the way submerged. If it is not, add water. Add herbs, garlic, bay leaves and crushed red pepper. Wrap the braising pan in plastic wrap twice, then aluminum foil twice. Put the covered lamb in a 250° oven for 4 hours. When finished, strain the braising liquid into the braising pan. Reserve the lamb. Reduce braising liquid by half. 28

PREPARING THE DISH: Pasta (cooked) Picked lamb Diced carrots, celery and reduced braising liquid Butter Salt and pepper to taste Minced garlic and ginger, to taste Sherry vinegar preferred (lemon as a substitute) Get a medium sautĂŠ pan hot. Add a little oil and add carrots, celery and onion. A little minced garlic and ginger will really take this dish to the next level. The vegetables start to caramelize, add the sherry vinegar to stop it from overcooking. If using

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a gas range, take the pan off the flame before this step as you risk catching a flare-up. If using lemon, use water. Add reduced braising liquid and lamb at this point. Let it reduce slightly. Add pasta and a nice chunk of butter. Once the butter is fully emulsified into the sauce, finish with salt, pepper and some lime juice. This dish is beautiful when finished with some fresh chopped herbs and topped with some grated Parmesan cheese, and will pair well with a fuller bodied red wine such as a Cabernet Sauvignon.


Chocolate Chip Cookies INGREDIENTS 2 cups white flour 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. baking soda 1 cup shortening 1 tbsp. vanilla 2 large eggs 1 cup white sugar 1 cup dark brown sugar 1¾ cup dark chocolate chips

Macedonia Farms | Serves 20

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 375°. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda in a small bowl. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients except chocolate chips in a bowl. Using a hand mixer, blend together. Add flour mixture a little at a time and incorporate with a spoon, stirring by hand until incorporated. Stir in dark chocolate chips. Spoon out and bake for 9-10 minutes. Serve hot.

while they are warm, DIP Em' in fresh milk!

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Focaccia Bread Atlas Bar | Serves 8

INGREDIENTS: 500 grams of flour 1 tbsp. salt ½ tbsp. chopped rosemary ½ tbsp. chopped thyme 8 grams dry yeast 1 tbsp. sugar 325 grams of water heated to 100 degrees 20 grams of extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS: Combine flour with salt, rosemary and thyme. In a separate bowl, combine yeast, sugar and warm water. Let sit for five minutes. Add extra virgin olive oil. Combine yeast mixture with flour mixture. Work by hand until the dough is elastic. Allow to sit for 1 hour before spreading on an olive oiled sheet pan. Allow to sit for another hour before poking holes all over the top and covering with olive oil, sea salt and additional chopped herbs. Cook at 425° for about 15 minutes. 30 30 ARKANSASFOODANDFARM.COM ARKANSASFOODANDFARM.COM || THE THE FOOD FOOD ISSUE ISSUE 2019 2019

olive oil is your friend! drizzle it!


Emerald Basmati with Basil Ralston Family Farms | Serves 8 INGREDIENTS: 1½ cups Ralston Family Farms Basmati Rice Kosher salt 1 small avocado, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves 1 lemon, juiced 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil ¼ cup water 2 zucchini (about 1 inch diameter)  DIRECTIONS: Bring the Basmati rice, 3 cups water and a pinch of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, stir, cover and cook until water is completely absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, put the avocado, basil, lemon juice, oil and ¼ cup water in a blender and puree; season generously with salt and pepper. Add more water and puree until the mixture is the consistency of sour cream. While you are waiting for the rice, in another pan, lightly coat olive oil and add zucchini until tender  Fluff the rice with a fork and gently fold the green dressing and zucchini into warm rice. Serve.

fluff away!

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pasta PRIMAVERA cache

Cache | Serves 4

pair this with the foccia bread on page 30!

Ingredients: ½ tbsp. shallots ½ tbsp. garlic 1½ tbsp. butter ½ cup white wine 1 tbsp. fresh oregano 1 cup heavy cream ¼ parmesan cheese salt and pepper to taste 1 yellow squash 1 zucchini ½ cup cherry tomatoes ½ lb. broccoli ½ red onion 2 cups mixed bell peppers 5 cups noodles, cooked Directions: Heat a medium sauce pan on medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic, then stir for one to two minutes. One by one, add the veggies. Let them sweat for two minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, reducing the wine to half. Add the heavy cream and butter, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the fresh chopped oregano and steamed for three to four minutes. Add the Parmesan. Add the noodles. Mix well. Serve garnished with cheese and fresh herbs. 32

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Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts

Seasoning for Your Entire Plate

CAVENDER’S GREEK SEASONING

Conservation Districts assist landowners in rural and urban areas. To reach your local conservation district, go to www.aracd.org or call 501.904.5575.

is a unique blend of 13 ingredients that is good to use on anything you would normally salt and pepper.

greekseasoning.com Harrison, Arkansas

Look for it in your local grocery stores!

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Borage flowers are known for their supposed moodimproving qualities.

Not Just Good Looks Edible Flowers

By Benjamin Harrison

S

pring is poised to rush in with full floral regalia: dainty blue borage garnishing cocktails, nasturtium petals lending their colorful pop to salad mixes, fresh lavender and more. Edible flowers add style and flavor to dishes and are increasing in popularity among chefs and eaters alike. Eating flowers may seem like a zany modern concept for fancier food photography, but it’s been around for a while. During the Great Depression, the children of struggling families were dispatched to public parks across New York City to pick dandelion greens, a nutrient-dense wildflower that is more and more a luxury item in today’s food economy. Many growers are focused on decorative flowers, so acquiring these delicate edible florets is no easy task. The buds do better in the cool spring weather and can suffer in the heat of a farmers market stand.

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Restaurants are the best source. “Chefs use them as garnishes mainly, for desserts and cocktails and some on salads, too,” says Kim Doughty-McCannon of Bell Urban Farm in Conway. “They are more of a luxury item for restaurants to buy, I think.” Jay Fulbright, of Arkansas Natural Produce (ANP) in Malvern, grows a variety of edible flowers: nasturtiums, borage, Bachelor’s Buttons, marigolds, dianthus and snapdragons. “It’s a niche, small market,” Fulbright says. “It’s not economical unless it’s part of a mix.” Find their flowers at the Arkansas Local Food Network in Little Rock or the Spa City Market in Hot Springs. ANP’s primary focus is greens, and that’s the economical mix Fulbright refers to and a tactic shared by Bell Urban Farm, whose salad greens are known to pop with the color of edible flowers in spring.


Edible flowers add style and flavor to dishes …

Left to right: Hyssop flowers are prepared for the dehydrator; nasturtiums stuffed with vegan ricotta make a beautiful spring lunch; German Chamomile is considered by many to be a relaxing tea.

Nasturtiums are perhaps the easiest and tastiest edible to find, and they come in a variety of colors that begin with a juicy flavor—something like a bell pepper—and taper off with a peppery zip. The whole flower can embellish a beverage just as well as a steak, or the petals may be applied individually in a colorful spring salad mix. And chefs can be very creative with them, whipping up anything from a nasturtium butter served with fish or ice cream made with nasturtium leaves. Borage is another great edible blossom, reportedly capable of elevating the mood. These small blue flowers—about the size of a nickel—have a slightly sweet flavor often compared to melons or, more specifically, cucumbers. They provide an attractive garnish for summer drinks, smoothie bowls, salads and more. The plants grow up to 3 feet tall, are beloved by pollinators, and easily produce a hundred flowers each in a season. Perhaps the most famous of all medicinal herbs is lavender. The best

use is likely in a fresh tea infusion. The flowers may also be dried and stored as a seasoning. A bit more of a challenge to grow in the South, lavender should be planted in partial shade and kept consistently watered. Propagate with cuttings in the second year of growth. Pea blossoms, which taste much like the peas they eventually bear, give any dish they’re applied to a charming appearance. The flavor, however, may best be suited to savory dishes. These might be found at local farmers markets but are more commonly sold to chefs. German Chamomile, a very productive and somewhat invasive plant, will reseed itself year after year and practically grows with no involvement from the gardener. A handful of pretty little chamomile flowers puts off an invigorating scent that is strikingly similar to fresh-cut green apples. The flavor, however, is, surprisingly, rather bitter. Most commonly used in teas, some do add the flowers to salads. Pairs well with lavender for a relaxing evening brew.

The purple conical clusters of hyssop flowers smell sweet and syrupy and are somewhat astringent (they’ll numb the tongue a bit) with a flavor like that of licorice. It is not unheard of for these flowers to be boiled and lightly sweetened into a palatable cough syrup. As a dried tea, hyssop works well during cold season to coat a sore throat and ease coughing. The plants are lowmaintenance, perennial and provide up to three harvests each year. All of the edible flowers not mentioned here could—and have— fill volumes. Rose petals have not been mentioned, nor peonies, saffron, elderflowers, passionflower, apple blossoms and so many others. To continue the conversation in an online community focused on edible flowers and recipes, like Flower Ice Pops and Spiked Blackberry Lilac Lemonade, seek out the group, “Edible Flowers,” on Facebook. For more specific recipes, there are a great number of recipe books focused on edible flowers and an infinite variety of ways to brighten any dish this spring.

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This microgreen mix can be used in salads, on sandwiches or cooked into omelets.

growing small microgreens

“M

By Richard Ledbetter

icrogrowing” may be defined as a method of cultivating greens, flowers, herbs and various other produce within an intensely controlled, indoor environment. Arkansas Natural Produce is a well-established provider of these products owned and operated by Jay Fulbright and his wife a few miles southwest of Malvern. Their 25-greenhouse operation is nestled in the Ouachita Mountain foothills tucked under surrounding bluffs with an idyllic babbling brook bordering the property. Fulbright took time from a busy cultivating and shipping schedule to chat with Food & Farm about the undertaking and some potential microgrowing benefits for the home gardener. It turns out ANP was featured on both “Cookin’ with Brook” and P. Allen Smith’s program, which

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explains my déjà vu as we wind down the road to hothouse row. Entering the 70,000-squarefoot-under-roof, environmentally controlled gardens, I was greeted by lush rows of greens and flowers and the aroma of damp, rich earth. As we wandered between the leafy, multicolored plants, Fulbright shared some history. “We do salad mixes, microgreens and herbs year-round. Our customers are fine-dining restaurants, no chains or corporate clients. “We started in Caddo Valley in 1988. We were mainly truck farmers then with just a couple of greenhouse nurseries for germinating seed in early spring. We started organic but didn’t have much market. We turned conventional for a while but I didn’t like it, so we changed back. We were primarily in the wholesale market selling to Ben


"I believe we should be as synthetic free and clean as possible.” — Jay Fulbright

E. Keith and Sysco distributors. That was a tough way to try and make a living, so around 1995 we switched gears and began selling direct to restaurants. “As our business grew, we were limited in size by the property we had in Caddo Valley. In the late ’90s, we started looking for a new location. We had a heck of a time finding property, but on a whim I drove through here one day and saw this place. I went to the county court house and researched the owner and approached him about selling. We bought 15 acres and began erecting these houses in ’99. We started with four and moved the two houses from Caddo Valley in the hot summer of ’99. By the end of the season we had 10 houses in place. We’ve continued to add more over the years.” “We’ve lost several houses to ice,” he said. The epic winter storm of 2000 exacted a heavy toll on them, collapsing several hothouses under the burden of accumulated ice. Fortunately, the roofs squatted only so far and the layer of frozen precipitation insulated the structures to the point that even without electricity to run the furnaces, the crops didn’t freeze. By “stooping to their task,” they continued harvesting and providing a large variety of greens to their forty-plus restaurant customers. To combat such future calamity, they now have a 60-kilowatt

Generac, natural gas-fired generator in place to run the numerous fan-forced heaters that maintain temperature through the cold months. In the warmer season, 20plus large fans accompanied by drip coolers, shade covers and irrigation help prevent indoor temperatures from skyrocketing beneath the blazing summer sun. “We follow all organic methods and utilize materials sourced through Organic Materials Review Institute. I’m not a fan of chemical modern agriculture. I believe we should be as synthetic-free and clean as possible. I don’t believe use of dicambia is defensible on any level.” Fulbright further explained, “We use no artificial light, so summer crops grow twice as fast as winter. If we have several consistently sunny days in the off-season, we’ll harvest a crop after 34 days as opposed to only 18 in summer. “We also raise edible flowers. By no means is it a huge market, but since we’re a custom restaurant supplier, that’s just one more offering we bring to the table. You can’t be too focused on just one thing. It’s important to offer a variety. Most folks don’t actually eat the flowers but they really dress up a meal and may be ingested if you wish.” Asked what the future holds for ANC, Fulbright said, “I used to do everything here. At one time it was just the wife and I. Now we have

three helpers. I’m 60 so we’re looking for someone to buy us out and take over. My advice to anyone looking to make a living in microgrowing is you have to love it. You won’t get rich but you can make a decent living. I also believe you need a committed partner. “If someone wants to do this, try to stay away from areas with a lot of row cropping because of all the spraying. Also, be careful the distance you have to travel to markets. We deliver Wednesdays to Hot Springs and Fridays to Little Rock. Each is about an hour’s drive and that’s as far as I want to go. Even that close it turns into a 12 hour day of constantly in and out of the truck unloading produce.” “When I retire, I intend to keep a small greenhouse. If we had to buy the things we grow, it could get really expensive not to mention the satisfaction of doing it yourself. We’ve got a small eightfoot tall by 12-foot wide homemade greenhouse that’s nearly 100 foot long built from 40-gauge PVC and Visqueen that costs less than $300. There’s tremendous potential for growing good, clean foodstuffs in the backyard and you can produce anything a family can eat. If you’re organized and persistent about it, there’s nothing going on here that the home gardener can’t do. The biggest thing needed is a passion for it.”

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WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE FARMERS MARKET IN 2019 Spring is just around the corner, and with it will come patio weather, outdoor gatherings and, of course, the farmers market—crisp mornings spent browsing stalls and chatting with growers, rediscovering old favorites and finding new items to look forward to. FLOWERS One of the most exciting sights at the market is stalls exploding with cut flowers. And this year, look for edible additions that will add some visual excitement to your plates. MUSHROOMS White button mushrooms are great and all, but your mushroom game can be improved. Look for Lion’s Mane, shiitake and oyster mushrooms. MICROGREENS Microgreens have been rising in popularity over the last few years. These are best enjoyed in the still-cool spring, before it gets too warm. Enjoy as a salad, on a sandwich or cooked into an omelet. MEAT Remember when items requiring cold storage couldn’t be found at the market? Times have changed. Come to the market for beef, chicken, pork and lamb from local farms. COFFEE It seems a new coffee roaster comes along at least every few months—and Arkansas is the better for it. Look forward to a few newcomers along with the faces you’ve come to expect. OTHER HOMEMADE AND HOMEGROWN GOODS Remember, the market isn’t just fruits, vegetables and meat. Pick up your week’s supply of bread, honey and dog treats, along with hand-carved signs and more.

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DICAMBA UPDATE

In a February session, the Arkansas State Plant Board voted 9-6 to make May 25 the cutoff for spraying the herbicide dicamba in Arkansas, a change from last year’s cutoff date of April 15. The approved amendment includes buffers around certain research areas, specialty and organic crops and a ban on mixing dicamba with glyphosate. The vote took place in a packed ballroom in West Little Rock, where citizens turned up en masse to give comment. Dicamba, which was once primarily sprayed in winter when there is less chance of drift, has been increasing in use over the last several years, resulting in damage to crops not modified to resist the chemical. April 15 was a deadline comparable to some northern states’ June 15 deadline, where they don’t usually reach 80-degree temperatures—the temperature at which dicamba begins to drift much more readily—until June. Andrew Grobmyer, executive vice president of the Agricultural Council of Arkansas, said that while the council doesn’t have a specific proposal for what state regulations should be regarding dicamba, their overall position is to support the Plant Board. “They have a lot of interests to consider as they come up with a plan for the state. We do have policy in support of a legislative solution to strengthen the penalty laws relating to people who are reckless and irresponsible with this technology. There needs to be a more functional deterrent for abuse of this technology and the state and federal rules, whatever the rules may be.” Shawn Peebles, an organic farmer with 1,500 acres in Augusta, was fresh from a legislative committee meeting on the issue when Arkansas Food and Farm  spoke with him.  “The most frustrating thing is that the USDA says transitional acres, which are required to convert to organic, should get a mile buffer zone, but the 2019 rules in Arkansas only give those transitional acres a half-mile buffer zone.” If transitional acres are not given that space, it only makes it that much more difficult to increase organic production in Arkansas and the rest of the country. When Peebles checks his crops at sunrise every morning, he can see symptoms of dicamba drift in shriveled leaves and rotted vegetables. “I can’t afford the losses,” Peebles says. To mitigate those losses this year, Peebles plans to plant around 600 of his 1,500 acres in white milo sorghum and foodgrade corn that are resistant to dicamba. “It’s going to directly affect your supply, as far as organic production goes,” he says. “It’s frustrating, particularly when it’s not your fault. You can see symptoms [in the plants], but that’s all you know. Do you plow it up or do you sell it, knowing something’s not right? We’re talking about people’s livelihoods.”


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Arkansas Food & Farm | Food Issue 2019  

Farm-to-Table Meals to Make at Home Ralston RICE Family Farm Farmers Market Update

Arkansas Food & Farm | Food Issue 2019  

Farm-to-Table Meals to Make at Home Ralston RICE Family Farm Farmers Market Update