Monday, June 21, 2010

Slow food tastes sooo good

Posted By on Mon, Jun 21, 2010 at 4:05 PM

People who know me can tell you that I like to eat; it's obvious from just looking at me. I grew up in a family where food was a major focus since we grew most of it ourselves. We raised chickens for eggs, meat and compost. Same goes for the pigs (minus the eggs), whom we often named things like "Bacon" and "Pork Chop" so we didn't get confused. My parents also grew everything you can imagine in their organic garden.

Because of that, we didn't eat out much. Instead of going out, when we wanted a t-bone or a good burger, all we had to do was visit the deep freeze. That's where we stored the half-cow we bought every year from my great aunt's farm in L.A. (Lower Alabama) or the occasional deer, which was usually a gift from a hunter.

So, with that upbringing, it was pretty shocking, after moving to Atlanta, to discover that store-bought tomatoes, which can be as hard as baseballs, made for better weapons than food. The meat didn't taste so good either.

It was also pretty shocking to discover that a lot of grocery store meat is pumped full of all kinds of things, like hormones and antibiotics, that I'm not too keen on eating. (Watch the documentary Food Inc. for more on all that.)

These days, I'm still trying to get a grip on organic gardening and eating the right things at every meal. Like a lot of people I know, I'm busy and it seems easier to eat out — which we do more than we should. I've got to tell you, though, with rare exception, the food we buy in restaurants isn't nearly as good as the food we make at home — or as good for us. (We stay much fatter on restaurant-food diets than we do on DIY diets.)

The problem we face, and maybe you do too, is figuring out how to keep healthy, fresh, organic food in stock without spending a bundle or having to run all over town to fill the 'fridge. One solution I've found is to buy less more often, and from local suppliers.

Fortunately, Charlotte's Slow Food Movement, which encourages that sort of thing, is taking hold. This past weekend, at Mount Holly's farmer's market, I picked up some freshly baked sour dough bread — you know, the kind that starts in a jar on the counter — and some locally raised, grass-fed beef from Apple Orchard Farms, which is located just up the road in Stanley. I also met some amazing artists and farmers, all of whom produce their goods within a 50-mile radius of the market.

Once home, we mixed our farm-fresh goods in with some yard-fresh veggies and, I am telling you, that food tasted as good as home feels.

But, eating more locally grown food isn't just good for your gut, it's great for our local farmers and our local economy.

In good news, farmers markets are popping up everywhere. Find one near you here. You should also check out PickYourOwn.org where you can find berry farms, among others, that will let you pluck your produce right off the vine, tree or bush.

Further reading:

Check out the recent Farm to Fork picnic, held near Hillsborough, N.C., this spring:

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