A question and answer session with Abbott's Grill Executive Chef explores the benefits of Community Supported Agriculture programs and the quality of locally-grown produce.

For Abbott's Grill Executive Chef Paul Gallo, the origin of food is just as important as its preparation and presentation. Through the Community Supported Agriculture program with Fifer's Orchard, Abbott's Grill and other CSA participants have the opportunity to experience a variety of locally grown, fresh food, from fruits and vegetables to eggs, poultry, meat and bread, in an effort to not only eat healthy, but to also support local agriculture and business. CSA boxes include enough produce to feed a family of four, including familiar items like zucchini, squash, peaches and more, as well as more unique items like celery cabbage or Swiss chard. The variety of produce and provided recipes offers participating families an opportunity to experiment in the kitchen, expand their taste range and support local growers.

Q: What types of farm-fresh products are used at Abbott's Grill?

A: Local corn, seasonal berries, peaches, different stone fruits, zucchini, squash, melons, beans, brussell sprouts, eggplant, chili peppers, pretty much anything else that they grow that's available. We try to utilize everything. Cabbage, greens, like salad greens, different herbs, there's a wide variety. We also utilize Colvine Bison Farms and Angus beef farms. We also use T.A. Farms for turkey.

Q: What do you like about using locally grown products?

A: The quality is definitely always there and it supports the local economy, keeps everything more circular in the area. It's definitely a more natural way to eat. Eating within the seasons is usually healthier for you. You can get blueberries year round, but they're going to be the best this time of year. It allows the menu to develop and carry throughout the year so we don't get stagnant, having the same things over and over again.

Q: What are some of your favorite locally-grown summer seasonal produce items?

A: I like the local cherry tomatoes, they're really good. Evans' sweet corn is excellent. Fifer's berries are really, really good. And everything else, too. We try to utilize everything we can. But the products that are my favorite are the sweet corn and tomatoes.

Q: What do you think is exciting about participating in the CSA program?

A: I think it's really good to offer people healthy food to eat. It's really fun to educate people – any time you get to do a cooking demonstration, teach people how to take the average thing and jazz it up a little bit or bring something to the table for people who are a maybe little bit shy or don't understand how to cook certain things, or how to do something as simple as how to grill corn. It doesn't have to be anything that's really avant-garde or super technical. Really it's fun to teach people something or explain something that might be super simple for us and just kind of educate them a little bit and help them eat a little bit more excitingly and kind of be in the environment to cook at home.