Monday, May 08, 2006

Eating Local in Knoxville

There has been much talk of "Eating Local" over the past few weeks within the food blogging world, leading up to this months Eat Local Challenge. I think this is a wonderful idea in concept, but to try and execute a month's worth of meals coming from within 100 miles of this area would be an impossibility. After all, in this temperate mountain valley, spring fruits and vegetables are just barely starting to make an appearance, and there is a multitude of ingredients that I could never find locally.


And so, since the challenge encourages people to make it work the best they can, I set out this weekend to the first Farmer's Market of the season, and I came away with a pretty good bounty: local organic skirt steak and a chicken; gorgeous fresh eggs, with little bits of feather still on them; a loaf of bread, chocolate chocolate chip cookie for Chris, and some homemade granola; fresh butter; and a pile of really lovely Swiss chard. I then moved on to our local co-op, conveniently located about a mile from our neighborhood, and picked up some cheese, pasta, avocados, and snacky stuff. Even though the bulk of what I picked up at the co-op was not local, it was all organic and helped support the institution, so I figured that was the next best thing.


I'm pleased with how well this first attempt at local eating went. I was able to make a supremely delicious meal Saturday evening using ingredients that were 100% local or organic (I'll write about that meal next). Some things were decidedly more expensive (the chicken was double what I would pay at the grocery store, and you can see the price on that butter), but some were surprisingly cheap (the skirt steak was $5/lb, and the eggs were $2.50/dozen). All of it was definitely of wonderful quality, and I loved meeting the people who worked so hard to bring these things to market.

10 comments:

Skeezix said...

I love eating local food when I can. I cannot wait till the farmer's market is overflowing with goodness.

Stuff there is SO cheap.

I've been trying for a year to buy some bacon from this local baconeer and if you are not there the second the market opens you are shit out of luck.

Marianne said...

I'm sorry, but baconeer is cracking me up. There are actually several really good local baconeers around here. We love our pork fat in TN, you know.

Skeezix said...

Baconeer is an awesome word, is it not?

The bacon selection at the grocery stores is pitiful. I am so going to stake out the baconeer and get myself some flavorful bacon soon.

Jen said...

We live in a small town and from time to time, a local farmer will sell his extra eggs at the grocery store for $0.50 a carton. An absolute bargain! Later on in the summer they will also sell home grown melons, tomatoes and cumcumbers.

Marianne said...

Jen, $.50/dozen is wonderful! Oh my, I'm afraid I would be a brioche/custard/souffle/macaroon/mayonnaise fiend if I had access to such bargains.

Lis said...

We have a most fantastic farmer's market here on the west side of Cleveland. I say fantastic more for the atmosphere than for the produce as I'm almost 100% positive, most of it is NOT locally grown (I just can't see an orange tree producing fruit in mid December while the rest of Ohio is covered in 3 ft. of snow) I'm not really sure if the meats are local either.. I could be very wrong though. BUT if you are looking for fantastic breads and bakery goods.. then you've found the right spot! And the people watching is fantastic.. such a mixture of ethnic cultures, it's fascinating to see what all these different people purchase. And even more fascinating when I get the nerve to ask one or two people what they will make with the ingredients they've just purchased. =) Yes, eating locally here in NE Ohio isn't very easy this time of year.. but it will be soon.. and I can't wait :D

Ivonne said...

Well done, Mrs. Canada!

I think the point is to do the best we can and to try to at least make an effort to support our local food producers. Here in Ontario the growing season is only just starting so unless you plan on living off of asparagus and rhubarb you have to buy foods that are grown elsewhere.

Great job and lovely photos!

unshrinkingviolet said...

gorgeous site - so glad I found an American girl who knows about real food. I'm sure there are millions like you out there it's just we don't hear about you in England!

WI_girl_in_TN said...

i'm dying to know where there is a farmer's market in knoxville!? i have seen a smallish one in Oak Ridge, but I am missing the amazing bounty of the capital square market (4 large blocks around, packed with vendors) of my beloved Madison (WI). Where do you shop? When does it start? help!

Marianne said...

The Farmer's Market is in Market Square on Saturdays starting in May. You should definitely check it out, by mid-summer is really cranks into high gear.