Slow Food News Items

June 1, 2006

Slow Food/Local Food has made it in print and on the pavement during the last two days.

The Wednesday, May 31, GSO News and Record featured Laurie O’Neill in “Close to Home”, an account of Laurie’s month in the Eat Local Challenge wherein she almost exclusively ate food within 100 miles of Greensboro. As she recounts, some foods were hard to give up, ie. cocao beans for chocolate are not grown here, but on the whole the experience was fun, pretty easy, and delicious.

She grows some of her own food and gets most of the rest from the local farmer’s market on Yanceyville and Lindsay. Creativity in the kitchen plus home grown herbs plus fresh produce and free-range meats made the task of cooking an enjoyable one. Laurie is already thoughtful about local food, but this past month heightened her awareness of food, our farmers and herself. That’s pretty much what Slow Food is about.

Sarah Jones, another Slow Food advocate, wrote in her bi-weekly column, “Local food offers extra helpings.” She pointed out that eating locally is not only about eating fresh and delicious food; it affects the world. 1) Local food is better for the environment; it’s transported just a few miles and it’s usually freer of chemicals; 2) local food supports the local economy by returning more money to the farmer/grower; and 3) local food preserves endangered varieties of vegetables whether its kale, tomatoes or apples, and endangered varieties of animals. Added to this is the social conviviality of the marketplace: friends, tastings, chatter.

If that’s not enough, Masoud has reopened Zaytoon as a Mediterranean Cafe: Local, Natural, Organic. It is located in downtown Greensboro at 301 N. Elm Street on the ground floor of a modern office building. One of two entrances is off of a lovely urban plaza so there is outside seating. The hours are M-F, 7:30am-6:00pm. Phone in orders at 336-373-0211.

Debby and I ate there on opening day June 1 and there was a steady stream of customers…satisfied customers. We had the baba ghanouj platter and the falafel wrap. The baba ghanouj was light on the tahini so you could taste the delicately seasoned eggplant. The falafel was crunchy yet moist with cucumber accompanying it. Its internal color was a lime green and we wondered if it contained mashed fava beans along with the chickpeas. Real authenticity and our bill came to $10.68!

The rooms are bright and spacious with local watercolors by known artists on the walls. Feel free to linger too over some baklava and turkish coffee.

We are happy you are back, Masoud and Annah.

Charlie Headington


Eat Local Challenge 2006

April 30, 2006

The Eat Local ChallengeI am honored and excited to have joined the Eat Local Challenge, a blog that will bring together information from a diverse group of U.S. consumers dedicated to supporting those who produce food that doesn’t travel thousands of miles before it ends up on your plate. My first post for this new site is entitled Full Circle, Almost. So far, twenty-six other Locavores have signed on to become authors for the Eat Local Challenge blog, and it looks like hundreds have pledged to eat local for the month of May! Others have chosen to take the challenge in another month.

The posts about my own eat local challenge will be archived here, so that anyone who is interested can follow my progress. The overall challenge is to eat food produced within 100 miles of your home, but each person sets his or her own personal goals and exemptions. I’ll keep you updated with the information I find about sustainably and humanely raised food produced within 100 miles of Greensboro. If any of you decide to join the challenge, please leave a comment!

It will be great fun and very enlightening to see how others find foods within their 100-mile foodsheds during a time of year when many places are just beginning to get fresh foods to the markets. Some traditionally lush harvests in California will be delayed due to unusually heavy rains. Here in the South, we’ve had drought. The Northeast is just now thawing out!

We are lucky to be able to find so many local foods in our markets here in the Piedmont Triad. Now we need to support our farmers and encourage the next generation of young farmers to continue the tradition by making good choices with our food dollars.

Now, here are my personal Eat Local Challenge goals and exemptions:

Goal: To eat food produced within 100 miles as much as possible, then extend the range to food raised, produced, or caught in North Carolina, South Carolina, or Virginia.

Exemptions: salt, pepper, spices, tamari, flour*, pasta*, rice, olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider and balsamic vinegars, tahini, sugar, other baking necessities, Parmesano-Reggiano, coffee, tea.

Challenge: I’m used to eating out for lunch in the neighborhood, and I don’t think that anyone serves local food. My addiction to Pepsi One, which I’ll try to kick in May. My new craving for olives. I’ll miss salmon and bacon. Local regulations will not allow pork producers to cure meat without nitrates.

Help needed in finding: Grains of all kinds, pasta. If I can find local sources for flour, pasta, and Carolina grown rice, I’ll take them off the exemption list in an update.

Tips offered: The Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market sells locally grown chicken, beef, pork, dried beans, mushrooms, milk, butter, goat cheese, and eggs, in addition to seasonal fruits and vegetables. Chicken will be available from Back Woods Family Farm again in May. The corn for the grits and cornmeal from the Old Mill at Guilford is grown in Yanceyville. Donna sells their products at the Curb Market. The Piedmont Triad Farmers Market also sells sustainably raised lamb, and ostrich. Deep Roots Market carries some local products, including some fruits and vegetables, beef and dairy products.

NOTES:

I’ll buy my fair-trade organic coffee from Tate Street Coffee House, which is a short walk away, and sorry, but I have to have sugar in my coffee.

I’ll keep a pitcher of iced tea in the refrigerator to try to kick my diet soda habit. I can’t go without caffeine – my migraines are enough of a problem in the spring. The problem here will be my husband drinking it all. He loves sweet tea. I’ll flavor it with mint from my garden.

I’ll buy my bread from Simple Kneads, a wonderful organic bakery in downtown Greensboro, or from nearby Spring Garden Bakery, or pita from Dough Re Mi at the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market. Or bake it.

noodle cutterI am mulling over making my own pasta for the first time. After all, I have to justify buying this noodle-cutter at the Liberty Antiques Festival yesterday! Note that I bought a “new” baking pan that begs for lasagne as well. I think I found a source for semolina flour from Virginia. I’ll post more if I decide to do it – it looks like the fates have decreed this. Now let’s see if I have the time and energy.

I plan to eat a lot of salad, which is not really one of my favorite foods. The way I have decided to make this fun and challenging is that I will make my own salad dressings and marinades. I’ve been addicted to Annie’s dressings for years, but there’s no reason I couldn’t make my own from scratch. I’ve added a lot of the base ingredients for salad dressings and marinades to the exemption list, to which I plan to add herbs from my garden and other ingredients that I find at the farmers’ market.


Shiitake Inoculation at Handance Farm

March 28, 2006

Saturday I drove out to Handance Farm in Rockingham County for their Mushroom Inoculation and Work Day. By the time I got there, much of the work had been done. The major task at hand was to help Pat and Brian Bush inoculate freshly cut logs with shiitake mushroom spawn. The first step is to drill holes all over the log. That’s Brian in the middle.

The log is passed to the next team of two, who fill specially made plungers with shiitake spawn and press the spawn into the holes.

Then the holes and all other cut surfaces are painted with cheese wax to prevent them from being contaminated with other fungi (and critters). An identifying tag is nailed to the end, and it is stacked in a pile.

Here’s how they stacked last year’s logs. The mushroom farm (Dark Hollow, who moved) that Sandy and I went to last year made a mushroom house out of the logs -it seemed like a perfect place for a hobbit.


Slow Foodie Profiles

January 28, 2006

Kicking off a new ongoing feature on the blog, Charlie Headington and Laurie O’Neill have filled out our new slow foodie questionnaire. We’d love to hear more about you, too – email me (ThoughtForFood@bellsouth.net) if you would like to share your experiences!

Name: Charlie Headington

Day Job: Teach about Sustainability Issues at UNCG and tend an Edible Schoolyard at Greensboro Montessori School

Your interests: good food, sustainable and simple living, gardening, learning Italian, playing chess.

How did you get involved in the Slow Food Piedmont Triad convivium? I’ve long been an organic gardener and teacher of gardening and sustainability, and thus concerned with the culture and availability of good food. My wife and I attended Terra Madre, a 2004 gathering of 5000 world-wide small farmers and producers, and we joined with Steve Tate of Goat Lady Dairy and others to form a Slow Food convivium in the Piedmont. I’ve enjoyed working with other committed volunteers from all walks of life.

What does Slow Food mean to you and how does it impact your daily life? Slow Food means a thriving local culture of fresh, tasty food, sustainable farms and markets, and a city swarming with family-run eateries. It also means eating mindfully, with the earth, land, and our bodies in mind.

Describe a Slow Food meal you’ve recently prepared or eaten: My wife and I belong to an Italian conversation group that occasionally gets together to eat. In January we brought together four courses of largely seasonal and locally available food. We made squash ravioli: fresh pasta filled with a butternut squash concoction that my daughter made. The meat dish featured local pork. The candlelight meal lasted for four hours and we spoke Italian throughout it!

Name: Laurie O’Neill

Day Job: Secretary at a local university

Your interests: Organic gardening, voluntary simplicity, fiber arts

How did you get involved in the Slow Food Piedmont Triad convivium?
I was in Charlie Headington’s “Simple Living in a Complex World” class at UNCG and he mentioned that a local convivium would be formed soon. Because food is so much a part of my simple living philosophy, I was excited at the opportunity to help organize it and meet others with similar interests.

What does Slow Food mean to you and how does it impact your daily life?
As a cook and an eater, I enjoy the freshness and the challenge of eating locally and seasonally. As a gardener, I am interested in healthy food and heirloom varieties of vegetables. As a small farmer’s daughter and sister, I am concerned that my heritage and culture are fast disappearing. As a citizen, I am frightened at the rate that industry has taken control over our entire food system. As a member of Slow Food, I hope to make a difference in supporting small farmers and promoting the benefits of local food.

Describe a Slow Food meal you’ve recently prepared or eaten:
The other night, we had a simple organic meal of field peas, corn on the cob, and baked sweet potatoes. I grew the field peas in my garden and froze them. I bought the corn at Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market this summer and froze it. The sweet potatoes were from the same market and I served them and the corn with a small amount of organic butter that I bought at Deep Roots Market. It was a very easy, quickly prepared meal. Learning to preserve and store foods for year-round enjoyment was one of the most valuable skills that I learned growing up on a small farm.


A Slow Food Thanksgiving

November 28, 2005

George had an epiphany about food this year. A Master of Arts of Liberal Studies student at UNCG, he has been writing about his slow food journey since this summer on his blog, Dirty Greek.org. George and I, along with about a dozen other listmembers, were in Charlie Headington and Steve Tate’s “Slow Food in a Fast Food Nation” class this semester. I think that I can speak for all of us that we are very sad that the class is over, but we are all immensely richer for the experience.

The following is George’s post about his first Slow Food Thanksgiving. He also writes about liberal politics and environmentalism on his blog, if you would like to check it out. The original post is here.

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I'm really proud of this apple pieWell, Thanksgiving went REALLY well. I ended up cooking the free range turkeys myself, which I didn’t know I was going to have to do (I’ve never done it before), but they came out great! Here are the photos.

my brother John cleaning one of the turkeysThere were about 40 people at my family’s Thanksgiving meal this year. I have a HUGE family between my dad’s family and my mom’s family, and we usually combine them at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. I decided, after learning so much about the slow food movement and organic and local food, that I wanted to do a really healthy, environmentally sound meal this year. Slow food is all about food and family, right? So what’s a better way to celebrate food and family than Thanksgiving?

mmm... free rangeWe got two Ebelry Poultry free range, organic turkeys from Earth Fare, and most of the vegetables, fruits, eggs, and even cheese and butter from the Farmers Markets in Winston Salem and Asheville. It was so cool that my mom got so into it! Even without much prodding from me, she called to reserve the turkeys without my even asking her to, and she and a few of my aunts and my grandmother spent several hours at the farmers market! She pulled out all the stops; I couldn’t believe it when I got into town and she showed me the butter and farm cheese!

sauteed onions with curry powder for pumpkin soupI cooked for basically 24 hours from Wednesday to Thanksgiving day, if you don’t include the 5 or 6 hours of sleep I had in between… and the breaks I took to enjoy some beer and whiskey with my brother and cousin. I cooked two turkeys, curry pumpkin soup (freakin’ yum), two pumpkin pies, an apple pie, and a squash casserole. My dad and my brother John helped me clean the turkeys, and john actually made the pumpkin pie filling once I had the pumpkins cooked and the meat scraped out.

pumpkins ready to be prepped for pie and soupAside from a few ribs from my uncle about the meal being a “Hippy Thanksgiving” and another cousin joking about me “burning my bra,” everyone loved the meal. Other family members got into the thing, even though I didn’t want anyone to think that what they brought had to be any different than usual. One cousin’s new wife, Brandee, brought an organic broccoli casserole. One of my aunts made an organic Greek salad. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few details, but the really great thing is that everyone got into the spirit, we had some good food and family time, and I planted some seeds in their heads about sustainable food. My mom especially surprised me. The whole thing was great.


Vintage Virginia Apples’ Annual Apple Harvest Festival and Slow Food Tasting Workshop

October 25, 2005

(From the Slow Food Old Dominion convivium):

Vintage Virginia Apples’ Annual Apple Harvest Festival and Slow Food Tasting Workshop
November 5, 10am-5pm, Rural Ridge Orchard, North Garden Virginia

Vintage Virginia Apples’ Annual Apple Harvest Festival expands this year to include a Slow Food Tasting Workshop where local food growers present a variety of grass fed meats, herbs and vegetables, and locally produced foods and food products.

One of the major goals of Slow Food International, USA and the local Old Dominion Convivium is to link producers with consumers. Slow Food has organized an event in collaboration with Vintage Virginia Apples that celebrates and promotes producers who grow delicious foods in ecologically friendly ways. In addition to those who produce USDA grass fed meats—beef, lamb, ostrich, pork, bison and goat–there will be other producers of local food products sharing their knowledge of fruits and vegetables available locally. Though the local growing season is nearly over, there are still fresh vegetables and herbs to enliven daily menus.

Seminars scheduled for 11am, 12:30 pm and 2pm will include Pairing Cheese and Apples with Kate Collier, owner of Feast, a leading expert in the world of cheeses and Tom Burford, orchardist and nursery consultant; a presentation on Winter Salad Gardens by botanist, Margaret Shelton and woman farmer, Ramona Huff, woman farmer will speak on Advantages of Heritage Breeds and Grass Fed Meats.

Chef Howie Velie of Magnolia Restaurant, a member of Slow Food, will be on hand talking about incorporating locally grown and seasonal foods into daily menus. The majority of the exhibitors are experienced growers eager to share their knowledge and provide product samples through out the day long festival. The Tasting Workshop is a hallmark activity of the Old Dominion Convivium that brought you two cheese festivals and an apple festival in 2003 and 2004, several Food and Film events and a Farm Tour in 2005.

Vintage Virginia Apple Harvest Festival is the place to learn about apple growing, tree selection and planting, apple cider and apple butter making. It is an apple tasting event unequaled in this area, hosted by the Shelton family. For an extensive look inside this family apple operation go to www.vintagevirginiaapples.com. The Cove Garden Ruritans partner with Vintage Virginia Apples each year making Brunswick stew, apple butter, providing hayrides, featuring history and craft displays demonstrating Southern Albemarle’s agricultural heritage and holding a bake sale.

These activities are provided by folks who practice sound principals of biodiversity, care about the future of our food supply and feel a responsibility to share their enthusiasm and commitment for locally grown fresh food with you. This event is presented free of charge to the public.

Rural Ridge Farm is located on Route 29 South of Charlottesville in North Garden, Virginia. From Charlottesville, 8 miles south of I-64. From the south, .8 miles north of the Crossroads Store (Route 692) See website for map www.vintagevirginiaapples.com.


A Taste of Floyd

September 12, 2005

My partner and I went to Floyd, Virginia on Saturday to a Slow Food event called “A Taste of Floyd.” After tasting samples of delicious local foods and wines from Villa Appalachia and AmRhein, you could then go inside a wonderful store/gallery/cafe, Harvest Moon, and purchase the items of your choice. There was music and interesting conversation – in other words, it was a terrific event.


Foodies line up to taste farmstead cheeses from Meadow Creek Dairy and egg salad from happy hens at Copper Hill Farms.


My favorite apple was the Jonagold.

Apples from Blue Ridge Cider and Good Food, Good People may seem to have ruled the day, but there were peppers and pears from Five Penny and Mood Indigo Farms, goat cheeses from Ladybug MicroCreamery and Lotsa-Cedars, “ewe”gurt from Icelandic sheep at Sunny Hill Farm, buffalo jerky from Brush Creek Buffalo, tomato sauce, sausage, coffee, and local honey as well.

After all this, hubby was still hungry! On a great tip from Billy the Blogging Poet, we headed to Oddfella’s Cantina for a late lunch. I was full from the Farmer’s Appreciation Day breakfast at the Greensboro Farmer’s Curb Market and apple slices and goat cheese,
so I just had a pint of Newcastle and took in the ambience of the place. Sandy had a chicken chimichanga, which was one of the best I’ve ever tasted.

Oddfella’s states on its menu that “our ground beef and our greens are organic, and, in season, we make extensive use of local, organic growers.” Everything on the menu looked wonderful.

The wooden floors, old storefront windows and doors, and lovely patio in the back added to the relaxing atmosphere. We were especially charmed that all the tables and chairs were different, many of them vintage. The owner, Rob, told us that he’d been asked why he doesn’t open another Oddfella’s in another town, such as Christiansburg. He said that he would not be able to furnish it in the same way because of health regulations – for example, the drop leaf table at which we were sitting would probably not pass. What a shame! This is not the first time I’ve felt that the government has lost sight of what is important in regulating food and food production.

A small curtained stage in the corner provides a venue for old-time, blues, jazz, classical guitar, Irish music, and other performances, such a Spoken Word event in which Floyd bloggers Fred and Colleen will participate Sunday, Sept. 18.

Add food, beer and dirt, and I’d say that pretty much adds up to everything I need. We didn’t go here; that will have to wait for next time. I hope that “next time” will be soon – three hours is not enough time to savor the atmosphere of Floyd.