LAURINBURG — When it comes to convincing people of the benefits of locally-farmed food, The Gill House Restaurant’s Tony Locklear feels that the fastest way to their hearts may be through their stomachs.
“People need to know that there is local access to healthy food and actually be shown the difference rather than just talking about it,” said Locklear.
Along with vendors including Huerta’s Produce and Wagram Apiary, Locklear was a feature at the Laurinburg Farmers’ Market on Saturday, where he scrambled free-range eggs from Heirloom Eggs in Aberdeen and offered them free with bowls of hot stone-ground grits and sides of peaches and cream.
“It makes a difference when you’re able to demonstrate and a person can taste it and tell the difference between this egg and an egg that’s bought from Walmart,” he said. “You can tell the difference from just the color, how bright and vibrant the colors are and then the blue tint that the white eggs have.”
Locklear also touted the health benefits of fresh, free-range eggs, which are on average lower in cholesterol and saturated fat and higher in Vitamins A and E and in Omega-3 fatty acids than the eggs available at most supermarkets.
After sampling Locklear’s breakfast, which she termed “absolutely great,” market attendee Johnnerlyn Johnson said that alternative diets have begun to catch on in the area.
“I’ve noticed that vegan and vegetarian has become increasingly popular here,” she said. “Sometimes you wouldn’t think they would, but with the advent of the Internet nothing is hidden anymore.”
Free-range eggs are even available in Scotland County, and eggs from the Laurinburg farm of Dave and Karen Stanton were also offered at the market.
“She has all these beautiful chickens and she is very passionate about it,” said market coordinator Miller Slaughter.
Locklear said that those who would not otherwise consider a paradigm shift when it comes to their food might be swayed by the very taste of local food.
“Seeing and being able to be a part of it’s different from just reading about it; some people won’t even read about it, but they’ll try it,” he said. “It’s exposure and education, and the Internet’s bringing that about as well. Just being educated about what we’re eating and options for healthier food access really makes a difference.”