It is so important to eat fresh food, whether it be fresh meats, produce, or baked goods. What is meant by fresh is fresh off the pasture, off the vine, or out of the oven, not fresh off of the grocer’s display. The fresher food is, the healthier it is, especially if it is produce.

The “fresh” produce we see at the grocer’s may look fresh on the outside, but on the inside it is not. It is old. It is harvested weeks before arriving at the store in order for it to be shipped across the thousands of miles without rotting. “So?” you say. Well, what that means is that it was picked before it was ripe, before it was fully developed, before nature had a chance to develop all of the vitamins and nutrients that we expect to receive from eating fresh, ripe produce. Not to mention that the taste of fruits and vegetables when picked too early has a lot to be desired. Perhaps this is why fruits and vegetables are not as popular as they should be.

A wonderful way to find fresh, nutritious produce is to shop at a local farmers market. It is amazing what can be found there! The best part of farmers markets is that the produce is harvested just in time for the market, hours not weeks beforehand. So not only did it ripen the way nature intended, it has all the vitamins and nutrients it is supposed to and it smells and tastes wonderful! The flavors are so delicious that they are actually exciting. Imagine such foods in the meals you prepare. What a way to make a favorite recipe even better!

Alhambra Restaurant, located in downtown McAllen, is one of the few restaurants that prides itself on using the freshest organic ingredients and serving individually prepared dishes. The wait after ordering may be longer than at traditional restaurants, but the wait is worth it. The individual flavors of each ingredient pop in the mouth and enliven every taste bud. Once dining at a restaurant like Alhambra that takes such care in preparing each meal, it is difficult to enjoy the pre–prepared menus of other venues.

Here in McAllen, Texas, we have the luck to have a farmers market where fresh organic meat and produce can be found. Take advantage of the wonderful and healthful options that exist right here in our own back yard! In addition to making your body happy, you will be supporting our local economy. Spending our money in our community is the best way to bring improvements to our community and keep it growing. James Canter, the Alhambra’s Executive Chef, agrees: “It is very important to invest in the philosophy that fighting against the current economic downturn depends on us acting locally, backing each other up, and coming together as a community and then reaching out to other communities in the area.”

“I’m very honored and very pleased to be here in McAllen and lead the Rio Grande Valley in the green movement for a better day and better economy. I truly thank the community and its leaders for its support and all that they are doing to further the project.” Chef Canter

By Lora Incardona