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Local Food Blog Helping With Legit Concerns

A wide variety of tomatoes is available now at the Downtown Bloomington Farmers' Market.

When Steph Davidson and Jennifer Swartout heard talk that the local food trend in Bloomington-Normal had maxed out, they decided to take action.

"That was actually one of our real motivations," said Swartout. "We were aware of this and thought 'uh-uh.' We are not going to let this die."

Swartout and Davidson are the contributors to the food blog Legit Local and behind the Legit Local Facebook page, both of which launched in May. The blog and Facebook page are designed to promote the Downtown Bloomington Farmers' Market and Artists' Alley and serve as a practical guide for customers. Swartout thinks there is a minority of people at the farmers' market using it effectively. Davidson agrees. 

Credit Jennifer Swartout / Legit Local
Legit Local
Food blogger Stephanie Davidson, nose to nose with a goat at Prairie Fruits Farm.

"Part of the reason we started the blog was actually because trying to piece together meals out of what's in season is sometimes hard when you're not used to knowing what's in season," said Davidson. "It can be hard to figure out what to do with a ton of tomatoes, basil and turnips." 

Actually, there's not much you can do with tomatoes, basil, and turnips together, according to Davidson. Swartout joked that you can't really do anything with those ingredients other than "two different meals." 

Legit Local offers recipes, guides for "putting up" vegetables (freezing or preserving), and preparing meals or key parts of meals and freezing for later like soups and marinara sauces. For instance, the produce at the farmers' market has peaked and will be strong through Thanksgiving, according to Swartout. The things purchased on a Saturday farmers' market don't have to be eaten in the next week. 

"Roasting. I think we could probably do multiple posts just on roasting," said Davidson. "I think you can throw practically any vegetable on a pan with a little olive oil and salt and pepper and roast it for 20 or 30 mintues and blend it and you have soup." Roasted veggies can also be frozen for later use. 

Credit Jennifer Swartout / Legit Local
Legit Local
Jennifer Swartout visiting the Prairierth Farms booth with her father Brien at the Downtown Bloomington Farmers' Market.

"I'm really interested in the food skeptics. The people who say they hate eggplant or I really don't like zucchini," said Swartout. "I wonder sometimes if we've all grown up with a shrinking sense of what vegetables are. There are a lot of folks out there who understandably are like 'I don't know about that texture.' I want to win them over."  

The blog may be winning over customers, too.

"We have some really great feedback from some farmers," said Swartout. "Farmers are obviously keeping track of their traffic and purchases and so we've had a few people say, 'I don't know what's happening, but this is better than last year.'" 

Swartout said she hopes the blog is helping, even if it's in a small way.

You can also listen to our full interview with the creators of Legit Local:

GLT's full interview with Steph Davidson and Jennifer Swartout.

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