Locavore Lore: It doesn’t get more local than YUM!

Leave the bike at home and cruise the drive-thru

Feeling the hot, humid fingers of summer wrap their sticky tentacles around your neck? With the summer solstice just behind us, the lengthening days are drenching our fields and gardens with photosynthetic vibrance, and there’s never been a better time to savor the edible bounty it produces. Yet, with this increased sunlight and summery warmth, who wants to slave away in the fields for a quick bite? This month, take time to sit back and enjoy the fragrant blooms of the season and let the Colonel do the cookin’!

Everyone’s favorite homegrown hero Colonel Sanders stands for more than just fried chicken. While lauded across the country for his timely contribution to the world of fried flesh, this local legend is responsible for bringing food equity to new heights. When the charismatic Kentuckian launched the first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in 1952, the opportunities for enjoyment of Southern cuisine expanded exponentially. No longer did one need to toil in the fields raising produce and livestock, only to spend hours stooped over a heavy pan of splattering hot grease — all to produce a simple meal. Now, thanks to one man’s creative vision, such a meal can simply be ordered, devoured and forgotten. No love, sweat, tears and unnecessary energy need be wasted on relationships with the food grown in the surrounding ecosystem.

And as with all things local, this vision continued to improve. Kentuckians know a good thing when they taste it, and the popularity of the Colonel’s secret recipe spread like potato bugs across the region. Additionally, not only have KFCs proliferated around the globe, this chain of culinary convenience has now linked arms with several other noteworthy eateries, creating a food web of possibilities housed right here in River City. KFC, Taco Bell, A&W, Long John Silver’s and Pizza Hut all co-exist as supportive siblings under the parental guidance of YUM! Brands Co. — so now eating locally encompasses a veritable smorgasbord of options!

Looking to YUM! can satisfy more than just your midday cravings, as the diversity of this corporation’s offerings might also quell your travel longings and allow you to really keep it local — forget that trip to Tuscany and head to Pizza Hut! Dreaming of sandy beaches and ancient ruins? Run for the border! An ingenious solution to mealtime monotony, YUM!’s offerings range from Italian to Mexican, with the homegrown goodness of mashed potatoes and root beer floats rounding out the selection. If you feel overwhelmed by all the options, you can ground yourself in the one delicious thread connecting them all — the potato.

As hills of potato plants flower across the state, we no longer need to wait in eager anticipation for their season to arrive. Why punish the palate in the straitjacket that is seasonal eating by only eating what’s available? Douse those fires of longing any time of the year by savoring these spudly sensations at one of YUM!’s conveniently located venues. Not only can honing in on the potato possibilities help you make up your mind at the drive-thru, it can also provide a useful tool for sharpening your culinary sensibilities. Dazzle friends with your hands-on knowledge of the subtle differences between potatoes fried in sticks versus wedges, or mashed versus baked, or in a burrito instead of on a pizza. Pack the kids into the van and make a day of it, going across town from drive-thru to drive-thru sampling the options. Better yet, host an eating contest and invite all your friends over for a night of grease and starch-inspired debauchery.

Ahoy, matey! Don’t forget the Cap’n, as Long John Silver’s invokes the pleasure of a seaside shanty alongside a piping hot plate of fish ’n’ chips that you don’t want to miss. And if you’re still on the potato prowl, you’re in luck, as Long John’s hushpuppies provide yet another variation of this tuberous treasure. A confection of cornmeal and potato perfection, these deep-fried spheres elevate the potato to new heights and have inspired a cult-like following around the globe. Much like the Colonel’s secret recipe, there’s much mystery surrounding the actual creation of these oceanic orbs, but lucky for us, all we must do is enjoy!

So if spending time at a hot stove cooking up your own french fries seems less than appealing in the heat of summer, take advantage of the local bounty provided by our generous fast-food industry and start living large. As the season’s warmth amplifies, jumping on a bicycle or walking is the last thing anyone wants to do, so hop in the car and allow the feast to cascade through your open window … or if that’s just too much, enjoy a Pizza Hut pie delivered right to your door. Make the responsible local food choice — it’s finger lickin’ good!


*This story is part of LEO’s Fake Issue.