By Mike Rosso

Once a year or so, we like to devote an entire issue of Colorado Central to a specific topic, and what could be more interesting than the subject of food? Food growth, preparation, distribution, consumption – all things edible.

What you may notice throughout this issue is a common thread: local foods. Unprompted, many of the writers took it upon themselves to highlight the benefits of a local foods economy – not just the financial advantages, but the health benefits as well.

The “eat local” movement has taken hold in other parts of the country, but Colorado seems to be front and center, despite the limitations of high-altitude production. From cattle to wheat, peaches to peppers, the state grows an extraordinary amount of food, and it would take a whole lot more than one issue to cover just Central Colorado’s contributions to the state’s foodshed.

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About the Cover Artist: Monk Giovanni (DeZorzi)

Born in San Diego, California in 1943, Father Giovanni has been a monk of the Greek Orthodox Church for over four decades. Since October of 2013, he has been a resident of the monastic Community of Our Lady and Saint Laurence, located on Tallahassee Creek, 32 miles northwest of Cañon City. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, having served during the Vietnam War.

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The Gosar Ranch: A Local Foods Model

by Mike Rosso

Above the din of motors, drive belts and grinders, Kris Gosar demonstrates the wheat milling process his father designed and built 40 years ago. In the final step of the process, the finely ground, brownish-white, Mountain Mama brand whole wheat flour is bagged and weighed on an aging, mechanical scale, then sealed and stacked atop other bags awaiting delivery to bakeries and stores around the region.

The local foods operation, located on the Gosars’ ranch, southwest of Mosca, Colorado and north of Monte Vista, in the middle of the San Luis Valley, is decidedly low-tech. There are no computers monitoring the motor speeds or coarseness and temperature of the milled flour; this is done with the human senses, employing sight, smell and sound, much like it was done a century ago. “Even when the weather changes, it can change the process a little bit,” said Kris. 

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Tomatoes: The Gateway Drug to Gardening

By Ericka Kastner

My eyes flooded with tears as Penn placed the packet of Poma Amoris tomato seeds in the palm of my hand as a gift. In that moment, what I’d known for years was confirmed, – growing food from seed was an extension of my soul. And in Penn, I’d found a kindred spirit.
Penn and Cord Parmenter live at 8,120 feet on 43 acres of land in the Wet Mountains, near Westcliffe with their three boys, where they practice what they describe as “extreme homesteading.” Cord, a master blacksmith and designer of their now globally known smart greenhouses, works side by side with Penn, a clay artist-turned -green thumb, to grow food, collect seeds and teach high altitude gardening to others.

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Want Peas With That?

By Abby Quillen

I’d spied the “9 Ways to Raise Healthy Eaters” and “7 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Veggies” headlines on the covers of parenting magazines. So I was delighted that my infant son Ezra gobbled up squash, spinach, beets, carrots, green beans and cauliflower. He devoured soupy, squishy vegetable combinations that didn’t look appetizing even to me, and I love veggies. Perhaps we’d dodged the picky-eating issues and could get a head start on agonizing about the piercings and tattoos he’d get during his teenage years.
Then Ezra turned one.

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Center’s One and Only Tortilla Factory

By John McEvoy

An unobstructed panorama of the San Luis Valley stretches out around from the aptly named small town of Center, Colorado. Once bustling with migrant workers arriving in the spring to tend the surrounding potato and crop fields, Center now sits alone in the middle of the Valley, waiting for the future to find it again.
A testament to the once-busy past is the rusting stoplight, no longer functional, that stands unused in the middle of downtown. It is now just a tired sentinel that juts up out of the pavement, conjuring up scenes of times past when the many automobiles and trucks passing through needed a traffic light.
Half a block away, across from the town hall, is Tortilleria La Unica and Carniceria Y Abarotes, which, translated means: one and only meat and groceries.

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Tony’s Restaurant – Burritos and More

by Central Staff Anyone who’s lived in Salida over the past 20 years has likely enjoyed one of his burritos – he being Tony Perez, who, along with his wife Marisela, run Tony’s Restaurant in Poncha Springs. For years, Tony’s been delivering his handmade burritos to businesses throughout Salida, and in 2008, he finally opened his …

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Ploughboy – Made in Colorado

by Central Staff When Dave and Kerry Nelson discovered Salida while traveling around the country in 2008, they knew they’d found their new home. Soon after, they purchased a commercial building downtown. They just had to decide what to do with it. A graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Dave’s first inclination was …

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Burmac – Cheap Eats … and Peacocks

by Central Staff They’re often referred to as “grocery surplus” or “dented can” stores, but Joan Burgett likes to refer to their store, Burmac Groceries, as the longest running mom-and -pop food store in Chaffee County. It’s also the only peacock ranch in the region. Joan’s husband Doyle first started the store in a back …

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Doggone Tasty

by Ericka Kastner Cultural anthropologist-turned-baker for dogs, Salida’s Sydney Schalit is baking up a storm. Her business, The Colorado Barkery, cranks out an average of 700 handmade, meat-free “Colorado Proud” dog treats each week. With the help of Mountain Mama Milling in Monte Vista, supplier of the coarse-ground wheat, 70 percent of the ingredients are …

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Persistance – Food Production in the Gunnison Valley

By Polly Oberosler Up until the 1950s, water running through small ranches in the Gunnison Valley and other rural areas in western Colorado were destinations for fisherman from the Front Range. Nearly every ranch had a cabin or two where the fisherman came to set up “housekeeping” for a few days, and the ranchers had …

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Q&A with Grant Prill – Chef and Co-owner at The Fritz in Salida

Colorado Central: What’s your background in the food business?

Grant Prill: I started working at a restaurant in Fort Collins when I was in high school. I had wanted to live in California since I was a kid, so I decided to go to the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco right after high school.

CC: What prompted you to move to and open a restaurant in Salida?

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The Crowded Acre – My Native Home

by Jennifer Welch “My native home is a certain type of labor, it is a certain type of relationship to my body and the uses and functions of my mind, it is a certain type of relationship to my environment, especially the land and space around me and in which I move and work, it …

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The Lettuce Harvest That Once Was

Central Colorado and the entire state once had a booming head lettuce growing operation from the early 1920s into the 1940s that is now all but forgotten. With good rail access via the Denver & Rio Grande to eastern markets, favorable growing conditions and plenty of ice to chill the leafy vegetable, head lettuce production was all the rage.

However, changing market conditions and the introduction of the refrigerated rail car doomed the local industry. Growing head lettuce in Colorado followed a national trend of the time where agriculture was expanding, and growers were taking chances with crops that ultimately didn’t grow well in certain locations.

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A Mission to Heal: Neighborhood Natural Goods

“This store is about healing. Healing with food, healing with herbs.”

These words come from Kathy Ringler, and one visit to her store, Neighborhood Natural Goods, proves them true.

Tucked away on a residential street in Salida across from the elementary school, Neighborhood Naturals is the city’s longest-running natural foods store.

But the location is not a detriment to commerce for Kathy. In the twenty or so minutes we were there for an interview, over a dozen folks of all ages passed through the doors, filling their baskets with whole grains, vegetables, soaps, lotions and vitamins.

Kathy, a Certified Nutritional Herbalist, says she first opened the business in downtown Salida in 1980 because “I needed the food.” 

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Living Simply & Eating Well

by Central Staff Childhood sweethearts David and Laura Kephart grew up on the same street in Fulton, Kentucky and together, have followed their dreams and opened their own natural foods grocery store in Salida, Simple Foods. Drawn to the city for its recreational opportunities and a sense of being populated by real people, the couple …

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Weathervane & Cho Ku Rei – Working the Land

by Tyler Grimes Shifting to a locally grown, plant-based diet is the healthiest choice one can make. Right now in the U.S., 34 percent of adults are obese, as are growing number of children, including 20 percent of 6 to 11-year-olds. Three out of four of the leading causes of death are weight/diet-related illnesses: heart …

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The CCFA-An Eye to the Future

At a time when multinational corporations fund fake grassroots organizations to promote dubious causes, Central Colorado Foodshed Alliance (CCFA) offers a refreshing example of a true grassroots effort to improve the local food economy in central Colorado. David Ward, president and founding board member of CCFA, said he and wife Suzanne, also a founding board …

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Food Ink

By Hal Walter

My interest in locally grown foods began about 14 years ago. I had long held the belief that the highest-quality foods were essential to optimal health, fitness and brain function, and that eating well also was part of living life to its fullest.
I was at the annual Pueblo Chile Festival when I spied a small table. There were two farmers there and they didn’t really have much for sale, but I think I bought some onions and something else, and they told me some of their story. They were from an outfit called Tres Rios Co-op, and their names were Dan Hobbs and Doug Wiley. I think it was Dan who handed me a business card.
Being the curious sort, months later I decided to pay Dan a call. I ended up at Hobbs Family Farm near Avondale out east of Pueblo, where I bought a boxful of vegetables. Lo and behold Doug showed up there, too. I mentioned that I was also looking for some hay and Doug said he had some for sale. So we drove over to his Larga Vista Ranch where I bought a pickup load of alfalfa and some pork chops.

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