Supporting Local Farmers through Fast Food?

I ran into a friend tonight while getting dinner, which reminded me that I should post something about fast food.

Since I constantly talk about eating good food and providing healthy meals for your kids, I kind of want to run and hide when I run into someone I know while going through a drive-thru (kind of like a Baptist going to the liquor store - sorry, had to say it.) I know there are much better choices, but I don't shun fast food, especially when it's been a long week and standing in front of a stove and washing dishes are the farthest things from my mind. So pizza it was.

But is going to a "quick-service" chain restaurant a slap in the face to my small, Kentucky farmers? It actually is not. I happen to know a Shelby County farmer who grows jalapenos for Papa John's while also providing CSA shares to her local customers. I know a farmer who raises chickens for McDonald's and uses the chicken manure for his corn and soybeans, as well as the vegetables his family sells at the farmer's market. I know countless Kentucky farmers who grow soft red winter wheat in their crop rotations, which is milled locally for McDonald's biscuit flour. I am sure there are many other examples, but those are just a few off the top of my head.

No matter the size or location, a farm is a business, and they are looking to sell to a market whatever that may be. Fast food may look very appealing because they need a lot of product. What makes me feel a little better about it is that many restaurants are still willing to source from many different family farms. That's smart business, too.

So before the "locavore" in you decides to stick your nose in the air at KFC, thinking 'how much "Kentucky" is really in that menu,' think again. Some small part may have been provided by your neighbor.

Jennifer Elwell