Sunday, December 09, 2007


A century ago, eating local was pretty much the only choice you had. Now it is a conscious decision. If you don't deliberately eat local, you're eating stuff from everywhere but local. And I don't mean just from a highly-automated industrial megafarm in another state. I mean from another hemisphere.

You may remember Lisa's review of Al's Bar, or Will's review of Stella's Kentucky Deli where he said:

The average food item travels 1,546 miles to get to your grocery store. The average food item at Stella's travels about 15 miles. And you can taste the difference.

or my reviews of places like Kerbey Lane where I mentioned:

The thing at Kerbey Lane is the ingredients. The pesticide-free, vine-ripened tomatoes, squash, okra, spinach, strawberries, field greens and more are locally grown at the Lamar farm, picked fresh and then taken for a short drive to the cafe. By the time you eat them, they are still quivering from the shock of being separated from the parent plant and are wondering where they are. And, as anyone who eats really fresh veggies knows, that makes all the difference.

Edible Austin, a community-based quarterly publication that promotes the abundance of local foods, season by season, is launching Eat Local Week, not only to promote local food producers, but to benefit Urban Roots, an organization that uses sustainable agriculture as a means to effect lasting change for youth participants, and to nourish East Austin residents who currently have limited access to healthy foods.

Yes, little Jimmy, this is how you can become a online foodie blogger. Cut and paste text from other websites to create a 60+ word sentence that sounds like it came from a Dilbert mission statement generator.

The nice thing is that a ton of Austin restaurants are participating, including many that have been reviewed here, like the Alamo Drafthouse, Iron Cactus, NXNW, the Satay Restaurant and, yes, Kerbey Lane. And also places I've been but haven't had time to review, yet, like Guero's Taco Bar, Z'Tejas and Teo. And places I've tried to go, but didn't have time for the wait, like the Eastside Cafe. They all have specials featuring locally grown ingredients. I'm going to do my best to hit several, if I can fit them in among all the holiday hilarity going down at Casa Wunderfool.

Also, a dozen markets, farmers and otherwise, are participating. I know whereof I speak regarding farmers markets, as back in the day as a youth in Fred, Texas, I worked on a truck farm, picking all manner of fresh produce, including corn, okra, watermelon, tomatoes (Which often disintegrated into tomato fights when we discovered rotten ones. My strategy was to stockpile the rotten ones as I found them. Then, when the inevitable first strike came from one of my companions, I could respond with overwhelming fire power.), purple hull and silver hull crowders, and butter beans (which paid by the hour, not the usual $0.05/pound rate for picking, since they were so small). I did my share of reaching down into the plants and brushing up against a bull nettle hidden in the rows. Wikipedia talks about various anti-itch treatments, but they don't mention the one commonly advocated in the fields in Fred, that of urinating on the affected area. I never tried it myself, preferring to just tough it out.

But, back to the farmers market. Sometimes we would accompany the farmer's family to the market in Beaumont and help sell the stuff we'd picked all week. Lots of interesting things to see (and eat) at a farmers market!

So, if you're in the area this week, check it out and tell me how it went. If not, check out a farmer's market in your area, or a restaurant that features locally grown food. They're not that hard to find. They are becoming more popular by the minute because fresh veggies just plain taste better.

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