Nacogdoches officials hope to spur local economy by promoting home-grown foods

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Good food often leads to good conversation. Right now, in Nacogdoches there's talk about how home-grown foods can build the local economy. The idea was put to the test Friday at the Nacogdoches Chamber's monthly luncheon.

Caterer Mercy Nicklas had one requirement for the meal she served at the Nacogdoches Chamber luncheon.

"Everything needed to be local from the farmer's market, you know, local vegetables," said Mercy, the owner of Mercy's World Cuisine. "We used some things out of my yard because we grow vegetables as well."

The entrees were fresh cabbage stuffed with grass-fed beef and for the non-meat eater ...

"Vegetarian-stuffed bell pepper," Nicklas said. "It's a Hungarian dish."

The caterer easily filled an entire buffet line with locally grown products. Appetites were satisfied.

Earth Care Ministries at Austin Heights Baptist Church wants local restaurants to offer diners the same kind of fresh, homegrown products.

"I think it would be a good selling point for a lot of restaurants," said Denise Garrigan with Earth Care Ministries at Austin Heights Baptist Church.

The result would be a new, healthy industry to stimulate the local economy.

"Our growers in the area will have the opportunity to get some of their produce into some of the local restaurants, and it would be great to even have a store open up that would sale local produce," said Tammy Baker, a member of the Farmer's Market Advisory Board.

Pastor Kyle Childress talked about how healthy foods can build a neighborly economy. He finds both on Saturday mornings at the Nacogdoches Farmer's Market.

"One of the great things about the farmer's market is it's about local, healthy food, but it's also about finding neighbors and meeting people and making connections, which I think is part of being a healthy community is being connected with one another," Childress said.

Today's meal didn't originate thousands of miles away. Instead, everything, the fresh veggies, fruit-filled kolaches and even local honey for the tea were found within a fifty-mile radius - close enough to call the growers your neighbors.

Anyone interested in promoting commercial use of locally grown products should contact the Nacogdoches Farmers Market or Earth Care Ministries" at Austin Heights Baptist Church in Nacogdoches. Better yet, talk to the owner of your favorite restaurant.

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