For some, Arizona may seem barren. A dusty wasteland with sweltering heat and little for the land to offer. However our beloved Grand Canyon State couldn’t be more the opposite. With large regions of the state enjoying warm weather year round, winter vegetables are in abundance. Indigenous and native foods and produce are utilized to the fullest. Don’t believe us? Prickly pear margaritas. ‘Nuff said. And we are ranked second in our lettuce, romaine, cauliflower and broccoli production.
No one knows this better than Local First Arizona. An organization striving to build Arizona’s economy at the local level, facilitating relationships with local businesses through out Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff. Through their Rural Development Council, LFA helps builds businesses in smaller communities such as Pinetop and Snowflake. At the recent Farmer + Chef Connection nothing was more clear than the outstanding amount of local foods, produce, dairy and meats grown and fed on Arizona soil. Bookmans, a Local First sustaining member and self proclaimed Arizona Fangirl was happy to attend the second annual Farmer + Chef Connection at Tucson Convention Center recently, where we got to taste test many of the delicious delicacies Arizona has to offer.
Farmer + Chef Connection is, in LFA’s own words,”the state’s only event of its kind, aimed at building wholesale food networks at the local level. Farmer + Chef brings together local food producers prepared to transact at a wholesale level and introduces them to wholesale food buyers at restaurants, hotels, and other facilities and organizations from across the state.” Farmer + Chef creates a direct line of communication between farmers and ranchers and the locally own and operated businesses in the food and service industry. With Arizona’s rich agriculture theres no reason why we should be importing produce we can grow right here. ‘Farm to Table’ is a concept that spreads beyond family meals in our own home. This mentality can be accomplished at the restaurants we frequent and hotels we visit.
In addition to vendors supplying samplings of breads, meats, cheeses and crisp organic vegetables,  organizations such as Food Cycle, who collects green waste from enterprises across Tucson to be composted, were also in attendance. Tucson Originals hosted a booth offering discounted gift certificates to some of Tucson most popular bars and restaurants.
LFA’s Farmer + Chef Connection was quite the party to attend. Members of the community arrived in droves and Bookmans, being a company who prides itself in being an Arizona born and bred retail outlet, couldn’t have been happier to attend this one-of-a-kind celebration of Arizona’s agriculture. For more information on the Farmer + Chef Connection as well as the other locally minded events taking place across Arizona, visit LFA’s website. Farmer + Chef was hosted in Tucson this past year to celebrate Tucson being North America’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy but will be making the rounds to other Arizona communities in the upcoming years.