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Posts Tagged ‘locavore’

This afternoon, Jenna, Emily and I walked up Athen’s West Washington Street to Restaurant Salaam – our 30 Mile Meal lunch destination. Once inside, the day’s hellish humidity gave way to cool air wafting about a room a riot of vibrant colors. We were hungry and ready for a lunch showcasing local ingredients.

Once we opened the menu, we discovered two 30 Mile Meal specials…

Menu

Black Turtle Bean Dal made with beans from Shagbark Seed & Mill Co. and vegetables from Shade River Farm and the Chesterhill Produce Auction. Wild raspberry iced tea.

Mediterranean Spelt Salad, a lovely cold dish of spelt berries from Seed & Mill Co., goat cheese from Integration Acres, spinach and microgreens from Green Edge Organic Gardens, fresh herbs from Salaam’s rooftop garden, and summer squash and other seasonal vegetables from Shade River Organic Farm and the Chesterhill Produce Auction.

We also ordered soup and salad from the usual menu…

Gazpacho with an orange, greens and nut salad - with some locally sourced ingredients

Later this week, Salaam will be offering another 30 MM special: Rustic Tomato Stew, a lovely Tuscan-style dish, packed with flavor from local tomatoes from Chesterhill Produce Auction , their own roof-grown basil, and croutons of house made bread. You can learn more here.

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Our mission today at the Athens County Convention & Visitors Bureau: Go forth and eat a 30 Mile Meal Lunch.

O'Betty's chef Ryan Stolz and owner Bob Satmary

Jenna Dill headed for O’Betty’s Red Hot! on West State Street here in Athens. Given the narrow facade of the building, you’d never guess just how much is inside. Like, um, a museum. According to their website, “O’Betty’s may not have the only Hotdog Museum in the World but we certainly have one of the LARGEST, VARIED, and MOST ENTERTAINING – and still growing! You will be amazed by the countless objects devoted to America’s favorite food – the wiener!” We agree!

The King Kong

Back to Jenna’s quest for lunch. Her choice?  The King Kong, featuring a chicken bratwurst from King Family Farm, basil pesto and tomatoes from Green Edge Gardens, Chase Cheddar from Integrations Acres, roasted garlic from Starline Organics, and a whole wheat bun from Fluff Bakery! Jenna says, “It was very tasty!” and notes that Chef Ryan has other 30 Mile Meal dogs barking in the kitchen. One features our state’s native fruit, the pawpaw, and another, locally made sauerkraut. You can learn more about their menu for 30 Mile Meal Week here.  Tasty Dogs + Museum = Cultural Bliss.

Lunch Time

Emily Maluski also headed Uptown for lunch, choosing Fluff Bakery on Court Street. This very sweet eatery is owned by Jessica and Jason Kopelwitz. Both received their Ohio U degrees in 1999 – Jess in business administration and Jason, in chemistry. They moved to Columbus where Jess went to cooking school and, ultimately, became general manager of Lucky’s Cafe. But family ties drew them back to Athens.  They moved in with Jess’s sister, Angie, and her husband Matt, who farm and operate Starline Organics.  When a retail space opened up on Court Street last summer, Jess and Jason jumped. Five exhausting weeks later, Fluff was born as both a bakery and catering business.

BLT - Fluff Style

Emily ordered the Fluff BLT and reports, “This filling sandwich features house-made garlic rosemary foccacia topped with peppercorn mayo, Shade River Organic Farm tomatoes, Starline Organics greens, and King Family Farm bacon. The bacon was thick and crisp and paired wonderfully with the fresh greens and perfectly ripe, red tomatoes. Combined with the flavors of the mayo and the always delicious Fluff foccacia, these local ingredients made for one tasty lunch!”

Village Bakery & Cafe

I headed to The Village Bakery, here on East State Street. Owners Christine Hughes and Bob O’Neil also operate three other local foods related businesses: the Undercover Market inside the bakery building; Della Zona, in the building next door and where they recently added a wood-fired oven; and the Catalyst Cafe on W. Union Street. Bob and Christine were early supporters of the local farm and food community and continue to do so.

I’m pretty much a regular, but there’s always something new to try. Despite today’s heat (approaching 100 degrees), a bowl of the Spicy Peanut Soup sounded good. And it was! ( Sadly, I didn’t bring my camera.) Shade River Organics and Green Edge Organic Gardens supplied the vegetables: onion, sweet potato, mushrooms, cabbage, potato, tomatoes and bright yellow summer squash. I liked the satisfying balance of the smooth tomato broth (enhanced by miso and peanut butter) and the tender chunks of vegetables. Accompanied by two slices of the bakery’s whole wheat sourdough bread, it made for a very satisfying lunch.

30 Mile Meal Lunch Mission Accomplished! Tomorrow is another day…

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The ARTS/West building, formerly a church, seemed an appropriate venue for Monday night’s talk by Warren Taylor, Meigs County dairy evangelist and co-owner of Snowville Creamery. The pews were packed with the faithful, both young and old (later referred to by Warren as the AARP contingent or Athens Area Radical Progressives).

colorful posters

Just inside the doors on the right were cookies and, yes, samples of Snowville’s ‘the way it used be’ milk. On the left was a donation jar for the Art Gish Peacemaking Fund (more about that below). Anyone donating could take posters, Snowville T-shirts, and other paraphernalia.

Will Perkins

The evening began with some rousing folk songs and fiddling by Will Perkins, with The Answer My Friend is Blowing in the Wind setting the stage for the evening’s topic, Food Sovereignty vs. Corporatism: The Battle for Personal Choice and Freedom in the New Millennium.

Angie Starline

Angie Starline, co-owner of Starline Organics welcomed everyone on behalf of the evening’s sponsor, the Ohio Ecological Farm & Food Association, and then introduced Warren and Victoria Taylor. Warren asked Peggy Gish to say a few words.

Peggy Gish

Peggy’s husband, Art, was known locally and internationally for his work as an activist. He died this summer in a tractor accident at his Athens County farm. He devoted much of his life to peace and social justice issues, as has Peggy. She told the crowd that the Art Gish Peacemaking Fund will provide small grants to youth or adults who want to develop new peacemaking projects or who want to take the first steps in getting involved in work to foster peace and justice. She noted that they are focusing on groups and individuals in Athens County, Ohio, with limited access to other sources of funding. Donations will support this work.

Warren

Warren began his talk (or walk since he never once stood behind the podium, preferring to pace the stage as he spoke) by describing his recent trip as one of ten delegates from Ohio participating in the 4th gathering of Terra Madre (Mother Earth) in Turin, Italy. The five-day meeting brought together food communities, cooks, academics, youth and musicians from all over the world, who share a desire to promote sustainable local food production in harmony with the environment while respecting knowledge handed down over the generations. Here are some clips from the conference.

Citing a NY Times article on USDA support for Domino's Pizza chain

Warren described the sorry state of the dairy industry and government regulations that favor large producers. He led the crowd through the labyrinth of the Federal Milk Market Order System (FMMOS) and its actions that penalize the smallest dairy processors. Did you know that one half of the milk produced in the U.S. comes from 3% of the country’s dairy (mega) farms? That dairy farmers have no control over what they are paid for their milk? Last year America’s milk makers were paid as little as $12 per 100 pounds of milk while their cost of production was $17 a pound. This meant they had to borrow and take on new debt, with their collective debt greater than the worth of all the dairy cows in the U.S. At the same time, Dean Foods, which processes, packages and sells nearly 40% of America’s drinking milk, made their greatest profits ever. Warren asked is this capitalism or corporatism?

Answering questions

And what about the issues that aren’t even on the table yet? Like requiring that dairy workers at least receive the minimum wage or the need for “honest and informative” labeling?

How fortunate we are here in southeast Ohio to have the Taylors’ Snowville Creamery. Milk you can feel good about – good for the cows, the land, the workers, and the taste buds!

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Is 11 year old Birke Baehr the youngest local foods advocate in the U.S.?  He recently spoke at the first TEDxNextGenerationAsheville, a gathering for young people to discuss and connect on a wide range of social issues.  I think you’ll enjoy his inspiring talk.

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Many of us are only two generations removed from a primarily locavore way of life. My grandmother ate seasonally, grew and gathered her own food, put food by (canning, pickling, drying) or purchased it locally. Putting a face to the sources for her food was an everyday experience since the farmer, butcher, orchardist, miller, brewer, baker and fisherman were her neighbors.

The dominance of big ag and other corporate interests in our food lives, concerns about the environmental impacts of shipping foods thousands of miles, and the desire for more transparency about the sources of what we eat has led many people to reclaim a ‘nearer to home’ approach to food. This can be challenging for the many in the U.S., living in what are essentially food deserts. Yet where there’s the will, ways appear. In Youngstown, a Rust Belt city in northeast Ohio, where virtually every inner city grocery store has closed, food champions are combining community gardens, Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), and corner store upgrades to provide healthy, fresh foods.

Here in southeast Ohio, we are fortunate that our food culture has been profoundly influenced and strengthened over the last 20 years by the passions and hard work of our region’s farmers, specialty food producers, independently-owned (and in one case, worker-owned) restaurants. Another important layer is the critical mass of local food economy non profits and resources such as ACEnet’s Food Ventures facility and Community Food Initiatives‘ investment in community gardens, the Edible Schoolyards project, and its Donation Station program that delivers fresh, locally sourced food to people in need at over 40 locations in and around Athens County.

Selling eggs at the Athens Farmers Market

So how does the 30 Mile Meal Project impact those within a 30 mile radius of Athens? For consumers, 30MM responds to the growing desire to know where their food comes from, who is producing it and how (think eggs and the recent salmonella outbreak). The Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACCVB) has created a 30 Mile Meal Map, making it possible for locals and visitors to find nearby food and farmers markets, eateries that primarily use local foods in their menus, CSAs, farm tours, food festivals and events, and more. You can even search for specific local foods such as dairy products, grains or beans. Through our partnerships, we offer learning opportunities such as food-making and cooking workshops and farm tours.

For our 30 MM partners, a major aim of the project is to support local foods earning opportunities for farmers, food producers, food markets, food events and local food enterprises. We’ve created an umbrella brand (logos, a tag line, signage, and products) that can be used to promote their particular piece of the 30 Mile Meal pie (farm, food product, restaurant, festival, etc). ACCVB recently launched a 30MM e-newsletter (anyone can subscribe) that shares farmer profiles, news of upcoming events, a ‘Dining Out with the 30 Mile Meal’ column, and recipes.

Other activities in development include a seasonal calendar of 30MM events and workshops, farm tours, market to chef cooking experiences, additional food-themed events, and local foods recipe contests. The project supports the ACCVB in responding to the growing interest in agri- and culinary tourism and through 30MM partnerships can create and promote touchpoint locavore experiences for both visitors and locals.

As the 30 Mile Meal Project takes root and branches out, our expectation is that it will nourish a more robust, sustainable and locally-driven economy. The seeds are planted…

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