Buy Local, Eat Global
By Jennifer Zyman, The Blissful Glutton
It is 8 a.m. on a picturesque fall morning in Virginia-Highland. Throngs of people, coffee in hand, make their way toward the Morningside Farmersí Market. As they make their rounds from stand to stand, filling their bags with treasures like heirloom pears and fresh chestnuts, they chat with fellow market-goers and farmers who know them on a first-name basis.
Emily Horton is a local food writer and Morningside Farmersí Market regular. "I canít imagine sleeping in on a Saturday, " Horton said. "The quality of what you can buy from local farms is just incomparable to whatís available anywhere else. And then when you find little treasures like the sweetest little marble-sized turnips, Brussels sprouts on the stalks and miniature heads of creamy cauliflower, itís worth the early hour."
There is a strong sense of community and pride in buying locally grown food, and Atlanta has numerous choices for consumers who want to eat healthily but also responsibly. There are farms, local markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) networks and many restaurants that incorporate local ingredients into their cooking philosophy.
Eating seasonally from local farmers also means that the produce will be cheaper, fresher and more flavorful. Why buy your sweet potatoes from California when you can buy them from a local Georgia farmer? The Georgia sweet potatoes were probably dug just hours before they reached the market and did not have to travel far. The California sweet potatoes might have been dug long before starting a cross-country journey during which they could have been damaged.
"Thereís ... invaluable comfort to me in knowing how short the journey was from farm to table, and itís evident in the taste and the freshness," Horton said.
Nicolas Donck and his family own Crystal Organic Farms on 175 acres in Newton County. Donckís stand is a mainstay at the Morningside Farmersí Market and he has expanded to include a farm stand at Star Provisions on the West Side.
"Consider the fact that most food travels an average of 1,700 miles," he said. "I only travel 50 miles from my farm to market. Buying local food means you are getting the freshest food with the highest level of nutrition."
Buying from local farms and vendors also ensures that you gain the increasingly crucial knowledge of how your food is being grown. Many of the farmers you encounter at local farmersí markets are organic, which means they use little or no chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics or genetically modified seed.
Buying locally is also the best way to help support your local farmers, an endangered species. There are fewer than one million independent farmers left in the United States. When you buy directly from a farmer, you eliminate the middleman, protect jobs and circulate money within your community.
Linton Hopkins, owner and executive chef of Restaurant Eugene in Buckhead, is an avid supporter of local agriculture. His restaurant relies heavily on local produce, and he advocates cooking within the season.
"I wish to see these hard-working people [local farmers] prosper in their chosen profession," he said. "What they do helps shape the quality of my life. Our economic decision to support them through farmersí markets, purchasing their products through our businesses and eating in restaurants which support them helps create a stronger more diverse local community."
There are many ways to support your local farmers by simply voting with your dollar. Weíve compiled answers to some questions you may have and help guide you through the various ways you can eat locally.
Where can I buy food from local farmers? There are quite a few local farmersí markets and stands throughout the Atlanta area. Many of the markets close in the fall, but some stay open into the winter months, and a few stay open year-round.
CABBAGETOWN FARMERSí MARKET
Location: 198 Carroll St, (404) 221-9186. Has temporarily relocated to the East Atlanta Village Market. Hours: Open Thursdays from 5:30 to 8 p.m. May through November.
Location: Star Provisions, 1198 Howell Mill Rd., (770) 784-6571. Hours: Open year-round on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
DECATUR FARMERSí MARKET
Location: 163 Clairmont Ave., (404) 377-0894. Hours: Open every Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. May through December. www.decaturfarmersmarket.com
EAST ATLANTA VILLAGE FARMERSí MARKET
Location: Parking lot of the East Atlanta Arts and Antique Bazaar at 470 Flat Shoals Ave., (404) 275-4064. Hours: Open every Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. August through October. www.eastatlantavillage.net
MORNINGSIDE ORGANIC FARMERSí MARKET
Location: 1393 North Highland Ave., (404) 313-5784. Hours: Open year-round every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. www.morningsidemarket.com
PIEDMONT PARK GREEN MARKET
Location: 1071 Piedmont Ave. at the 12th Street gate, (404) 875-7275. Hours: Open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May through October, www.piedmontpark.org
What is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and where wan I find a local program? Community Supported Agriculture is a program in which an individual purchases a share in a farmerís crop at the beginning of the season in exchange for a weekly or monthly delivery of fresh produce and other farm goods. You can visit localharvest.org to find the one closest to where you live. Here are some of the more popular CSAs in the metro-Atlanta area:
FARMERSí FRESH FOOD NETWORK
Location: 330 Golf Course Rd., Tallapoosa, (256) 449-9417 or www.farmersfreshfood.com. Delivery locations: Buckhead, Midtown and Toco Hills.
Location: 1205 Cumberland Rd., (404) 892-9868 or www.intowncsa.com. Delivery locations: Member homes in North Druid Hills, Decatur, Cabbagetown, Midtown and East Atlanta.
Location: 900 Dancing Fox Rd., Decatur, (404) 452-4321 or www.eastlakecommons.org.Delivery location: At Gaia Gardens only.
Location: 954 White Graves Rd., Ranger, (678) 910-2831 or www.grassfedcow.com. Delivery locations: Spruill Art Gallery in Dunwoody on Wednesdays and/or Morningside Market on Saturdays.
I donít like to cook. Which restaurants support local farmers?
There are countless restaurants in the Atlanta area that get many of their ingredients from local farmers. Here are just a few of our favorites:
Location: 490 East Paces Ferry Rd., (404)233-7673 or www.aria-atl.com. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Location: 1198 Howell Mill Rd., (404) 233-7673 or www.starprovisions.com. Hours: Monday through Saturday starting at 6 p.m.
Location: 1123 Zonolite Rd., (404) 892-1414 or www.starprovisions.com. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday starting at 6 pm.
Location: 2277 Peachtree Rd., (404) 355-0321 or www.restauranteugene.com. Hours: Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner is served Sunday through Thursday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 11 p.m.
Location: 1782 Cheshire Bridge Rd., (404) 347.9055 or www.woodfiregrill.com. Hours: Monday-Thursday 5:30 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 5:30-11 p.m.; Sunday 5:30-9:30 p.m.
Where can I learn more about eating locally?
The following are some very informative Web sites where you can learn more, get involved and also find local food in your area:
You can also visit Jennifer Zymanís Web site, www.blissfulglutton.com , where she chronicles her dining experiences in Atlanta and beyond.
CHEF LINTON HOPKINS
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and menu planning can be an daunting task. Why not use some seasonal ingredients in your dishes? Mushrooms are in season and a true sign that summer has given way to the coolness of fall. Chef Hopkins was kind enough to share this recipe for a chanterelle risotto that he serves at Restaurant Eugene. The earthiness of the mushrooms and creaminess of the risotto are perfect complements to the Thanksgiving turkey.
1 c. superfino Arborio rice
1 c. dry white wine
3 c. chicken stock
1 small yellow onion, minced
3 tbs. olive oil
3 tbs. whole butter
2 c. sliced chanterelles (or the
best mushrooms available)
1 c. freshly grated Parmesan
3 tbs. heavy cream
The zest of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Sautee chanterelles in 1 tablespoon butter until liquid released.
Remove from heat and reserve.
In a saucepan, saute onion until translucent, add rice and stir until well-coated.
Add white wine and stir until absorbed.
Add chicken stock in thirds, stirring until each amount is absorbed.
When the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, add chanterelles.
Remove from heat; stir in remaining butter, cheese, cream and zest.
Season to taste.