By Erin Ward
Colorado is lauded as one of the most health-conscious and holistically minded states in the country. Perhaps it has to do with the population’s affinity for and access to outdoor activities, or an appreciation for all of the natural wonder that surrounds them. Whether it is due to the grand scale of the mountains or the vast open spaces of fresh air, Coloradans seem to be doing something right.
One of the most exciting trends to hit the metropolitan areas of the Centennial State is the boom of farm-to-table establishments and markets that make eating locally and naturally easier than ever. Travelers stopping through the popular areas of Denver, Vail, and Boulder looking for fresh and healthy dining options, will be delighted by the number of options they have at their fingertips. Likewise, natives to these small cities can take satisfaction knowing that they are supporting local farms and helping to support their agrarian communities.
Here are a few places to try out if you happen to be passing through these major hot spots:
City Park Esplanade Fresh Market
Denver, CO. Lucky for Denver, this City Park farmers market starts in early summer and extends through the fall months, promising the freshest seasonal produce to those wishing to take a scenic stroll through the park. A great place to stock up and then have a locally-grown feast on one of the lush green lawns. Make sure to sample the pears and plums while the weather is warm, and then reach for some of Colorado’s finest fall fruits and vegetables such as pumpkins, tomatoes, and eggplant. The vibrant variety of produce, is certainly worth the early Sunday morning trip to the market.
Denver, Co. This upscale eatery is a perfect spot for those wanting to enjoy fine wine with their locally farmed cuisine. Father and daughter duo Teri and Tom Rispetto run their restaurant under the belief that sustainable ecology and organic farming practices are not only the best for the environment, but provide the highest quality taste as well. Their philosophy is that enjoying a meal is the hallmark of being human, and they intend to provide a memorable and wholesome experience to everyone who comes to join them at the table. An added plus is the accompaniment of a carefully curated selection of fine and organic wines from small producers, keeping spirit and soul close to home.
Boulder, CO. Boulder is the younger, more laid back sibling of already easy-going Denver. Creative minds and young innovators populate the up-and-coming city with a love for participating in healthy and active lifestyles. If you find yourself exploring this cultured bohemia, make sure to stop in at Mountain Sun for a home-brew and locally fawned-over fare. All the beer in this popular spot is brewed in-house, and is not bottled or sold to distributors, making the experience of drinking and dining wholly unique to the moment. The pub’s atmosphere reflects a sense of strong community and a welcoming warmth to all who walk through the door. What to eat while you are there? Trust your bartender and order the Special Stout along with a satisfying and rightfully named Boom Boom Sandwich.
Boulder, CO. This Boulder favorite is a truly unique experience. Taking farm to table to a whole new level, Black Cat has its own farm that supplies most of the ingredients for the menu’s high quality fare, including all of the produce and most of the meat dishes. The menu changes each season and is dependent on the harvest. There is even an opportunity to volunteer at the farm if you wish to feel really connected to your food. If you can swing it, try the Chef’s Table option on the menu. Expert chef and owner Eric Skorkan will personally select what you eat, with a promise to provide a delectable and plucked-off-the-farm tasting experience.
Vail Farmers Market in Vail Village
Vail, CO. Though this popular ski town is bustling in the winter, vacationers flock all year round to the charming mountainside resorts in Vail Village. Even if not staying in one of Switzerland-inspired lodgings, coming to stroll through the farmers market is well worth the trip. The market occurs every Sunday in the summer, and fills the cobblestone streets leading into the center of the village with local food vendors and artisanal treats. One can buy anything from Alpine Avocado’s homemade salad dressing to Brewski’s Bones beer-flavored dog treats. Fresh pastries, homemade pottery, and palm-sized peaches are all available for purchase, the latter being one of the most popular items in the market. Local boutiques also dot the streets displaying some of their village-own goods. The market opens at 10 a.m., and it is wise to get there early, as it is an event that locals and visitors alike look forward to every week.
When the bad news of your day is that there are too many choices for where to eat “” let alone menu options once you decide “” life looks and tastes pretty good. And best of all, if venturing through Denver, Boulder, or Vail, more than likely you can rest assured that your dining decision is supporting the environment as well as the local community. If you do not live in Colorado, consider making a trip. Your taste buds will thank you.
About the Writer
Erin Ward is a NYC based freelance writer and Kripalu yoga teacher living in Brooklyn with an insatiable passion for outdoor adventures. After graduating from NYU in May 2012 with a degree in English and Creative Writing, Erin took the reigns into her own hands and began working as an independent writer. She has experience helping small businesses and start-ups develop their brands and communicate their visions. She has worked as a ghost writer, a travel writer, copywriter, and fiction writer. Besides writing, her other biggest passion is leading a fun, healthy, and balanced lifestyle, and she enjoys sharing her wellness knowledge with others. When not writing or teaching yoga, Erin can be found test-tasting the brews at local Brooklyn coffee shop, chasing the elusive dream of determining where to find the best cup. For more information and to contact Erin””she is always excited to meet new people “” visit her at www.erinrward.com.
Featured photo by seanmfreese