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Local produce is a precious commodity in Oklahoma

Sherrel Jones talks local food and local Oklahoma flavor.
BY SHERREL JONES Modified: April 16, 2013 at 4:15 pm •  Published: April 17, 2013

Putting Oklahoma foods in your pantry and refrigerator and on your table has many advantages. One of those benefits I've come to appreciate is how truly fresh Oklahoma produce is and how long it lasts. My most recent experience with a bag of fresh Progressive Farms salad greens is enough to keep me shopping for them again and even making an extra stop to get them.

Recently, I put a half bag of Progressive Farms greens in the fridge before heading to California for a week. I returned eight days later just figuring the greens would be ready for the compost bin. To my surprise they were pristine and still just as fresh as they were when I opened the bag. I immediately made myself a big salad. Dressed with some good olive oil and a little vinegar, it was well on its way to helping me recover from jet lag.

I tracked down Joe Tierney of Progressive Farms in Bixby to let him know how impressed I was with their salad greens. Tierney has been growing seasonal summer vegetables and herbs for 22 years, but a few years ago completely reorganized the way they grow vegetables, adding more crops for the spring and fall with greenhouses. This year, they have been able to have Oklahoma-grown organic produce for the entire year.

They are replanting often to keep production up and customers supplied. The company sells to a number of restaurants and grocers including Reasor's, Whole Foods and community-supported agriculture programs. You can find Progressive Farms produce in the Oklahoma City area at Uptown Grocery in Edmond and the Urban Agrarian in the Farmers Public Market district. After enjoying that fresh salad, I couldn't wait to try some of Progressive Farms' certified organic spinach and braising greens.

I asked Joe Tierney how he prepares his braising greens. He does a simple saute in an iron skillet with a little olive oil. He puts little strips of onion and/or garlic in first, then adds the braising greens or spinach, covering the skillet with a baking sheet to let it steam for just a very few minutes. He said their spinach doesn't seem to have as much moisture content as other spinach, so he has to add an ice cube to get a little extra moisture so the spinach steams.

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