It seems that almost overnight there has been enormous momentum gained in the “buy local” movement, making it one of the hottest culinary trends in recent years. There are plenty of good reasons for the upsurge of interest. Many people site the positive impact on the local economy by keeping dollars circulating within the community. There is also a widely shared belief that knowing the source of the food you serve your family enables you to choose food grown by farmers who avoid or reduce their use of chemicals, pesticides, hormones or antibiotics in their operations. As if your family’s health wasn’t reason enough, the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions to transport goods grown elsewhere, and the lack of environmentally damaging packaging is obvious. There is no question that these are all good reasons to buy local, but one strikes me as more logical than all the others. Locally grown food is fresher and tastes better.
Being one who supports the “buy local” movement I was encouraged to visit Pete’s Produce Farm in Westtown by others who seek out the freshest food in the area. After my first visit I was easily convinced that the food was fresher and more full of flavor than any comparable items that I would buy at my local supermarket. Don’t just take my word for it. In my efforts to spread the word about this find I quickly learned that Pete’s has it’s own following that stretches from internet discussion boards all the way into the kitchens of many of the finest restaurants in the area. I believe that actions speak louder than words and the actions of some of the regions top chefs say that Pete’s is the place to find the ingredients to make the cuisine that they stake their reputations on day after day.
Pete Flynn began dairy farming in 1986. In 1989 he planted a small crop of sweet corn and sold the harvest from the back of his pick up truck. That experience convinced him to leave dairy farming behind and focus his efforts on growing produce. Today Pete grows 70 acres of sweet corn, 10 acres of vegetables, 15 acres of pumpkin, 1 acre of flowers and herbs and 90 acres of hay. With over 40 employees the old roadside stand has turned into a bustling enterprise through a commitment to community, family and an unwavering desire to provide the freshest food products in the area. You will find fresh vegetables like leaf lettuce, peppers, watermelons, cucumbers, lima beans and Pete’s wildly popular heirloom tomatoes. There is also an impressive selection of homemade dressings, jams, hot sauces, pies, the list of unique farm fresh items just goes on and on. However, there is one crop that has people talking about Pete’s Produce Farm as far south as Virginia beginning every July. To say th at Pete is famous for his sweet corn may be a bit of an overstatement. On the other hand, to say that he is popular because of it would be an understatement. Somewhere in between lies an accurate description of the reaction that people have to Pete’s sweet corn. Some are known to drive for hours to get it. Pete has made his corn more widely available by providing it to other farm stands to sell, including one at the Reading Terminal Market. So what is it about this corn that has people eating it raw right after they purchase it. Well, those people know that summer at Pete’s means Mirai (me-RYE) corn. Mirai is a variety of yellow corn that has been naturally crossbred to gain the tenderness of “sugar enhanced” varieties and the overall sweetness of the “super sweets.” For years this corn was only available in Japan because of the special attention it requires to attain a good yield and was an ideal crop for the smaller vegetable farms. Big American farming outfits showed little inte rest but smaller farms like Pete’s who could take the time to carefully prep the seed beds, pay close attention to the moisture and hand pick the ears are enjoying the benefits of the extra labor. The local community is enjoying the benefits as well. Many people in this area will tell you that summer is not summer without some of Pete’s sweet corn.
So there you have it. The secret is out. Now you know how to save the environment, help the local economy, keep your family healthy, and you get to do it by simply enjoying some really good food. Stop by Pete’s Produce Farm and just browse around. You are sure to have your interest peaked more than once and if you’re not careful you just might have fun while you do it.