• Bloggers are a talented bunch – Many if not most have full-time “day jobs” but maintain beautiful and inspiring sites by night. They even have well-designed, professionally printed business cards. How do they do it?
• Don’t expect to get rich off blogging. Some people do rise to fame and fortune, but it’s not because they haven’t put in a lot of hard work. Most are doing it simply because they love to write, cook and share what they learn in a public forum.
• There is a real passion for food and a burgeoning “food movement” these days not for gluttony’s sake, but for the ways that food is at the heart of healthy communities, helps us learn from and celebrate our differences and brings us all together.
• Southern food is unique because it developed as a result of an uninterrupted agrarian tradition. Southerners were practicing sustainable, local and seasonal eating well before it became a restaurant trend.
• In a session on the state of Gulf seafood in the aftermath of the oil spill, I learned that 70 percent of our nation’s domestic seafood comes from the Gulf. However, 90 percent of our seafood is imported from Asia and South America. When people stop eating Gulf seafood, it has a major impact on our economy and the livelihood of fishermen and seafood businesses on the Gulf. The good news is that the FDA has declared Gulf seafood to be safe. Chemical dispersants combined with the natural bacteria produced in warm waters have done a good job of breaking down the oil into biological waste. Ask about the source of your seafood before you buy it and demand local, especially Gulf seafood, whenever possible.
• I bought and am enjoying Virginia Willis’s cookbook Bon Appetit, Y'all: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking. She is a Southern gal with French training sharing her mother’s and grandmother Meme’s recipes. I highly recommend it.
New Blogs I Discovered:
And of course my friend and conference cohort’s blog, http://www.lifeinrecipes.com/
Some Other Great Websites and Resources
Southern Foodways Alliance (Awesome organization I have been following for years who does a lot with oral history, documentary films and preserving Southern foodways)
Slow Food USA (I went to a talk last year featuring the founder of Slow Food International that initially inspired me to start this blog.)
Southern Food and Beverage Museum (If only I could work here! Museums + Southern Food = Heaven)
Resources for Eating Local (for Georgia folks)
One of the speakers at the conference, Amanda Storey, spoke about her efforts to support the local food movement and curb childhood obesity in Birmingham. Her blog, Food Revival, is inspiring.
It really irks me that some view eating local, organic foods as elitist. Yes, there are some “foodies” who are a bit over the top, and yes, organic and local foods are often more expensive and there are problems of access, but doing it just makes sense. Why should eat food pumped full of potentially carcinogenic pesticides if you don’t have to? And why not eat an apple that was grown and picked days ago just 80 miles up the road instead of one picked weeks ago and flown in from Chile? Unless people “vote with their wallets” and demand fresh, local and (whenever possible) pesticide and additive free fruits, vegetables, dairy and meats, big agra is going to keep us feeding us the same old stuff. I could go on and on, but I'll just let Mark Bittman do my talking for me. His recent New York Times essay pretty much sums it up and offers some great solutions on how to fix our food problems in the United States.
I see the tide changing as people become more educated about their food and where it comes from. We are learning that we don’t have to eat overly processed “fake food” when healthful, natural alternatives are abundant and affordable. It’s a balance I am constantly seeking as a busy mom trying to raise two kids in a world of sugary, salty, preservative-laden convenience foods. It’s hard!
Georgia Organics (Awesome group. Check out their local food guide to find markets, farms and community gardens near you)
Slow Food Atlanta (Sponsors a lot of cool classes on gardening, healthy and local eating.)
Places to Shop: Whole Foods (I know some people call this “Whole Pay Check” and some things are quite expensive. However, I find if you shop there with the coupons they provide, buy what is on sale and their bulk and store brand, it isn’t that bad. I love that they provide the origin of the produce and label local and regional products throughout the store. You can know where your food comes from and make informed choices.)
Your Regular Grocery Store (Believe it or not, you can find some locally grown produce and several locally produced foods like delicious Atlanta Fresh Greek Yogurt, Pure Bliss Granola and Springer Mountain Farms Chicken at Kroger.)
Urban Cannibals Bodega and Bites (Located in East Atlanta Village, they offer great prepared foods, baked goods, CSA pick-ups and locally sourced grocery items.)
Local Farmers Markets (Find one near you at http://www.pickyourown.org/GAfarmersmarkets.htm)
Community Supported Agriculcture -CSAs (An economical way to get fresh, organic produce and support local farms. Visit http://www.localharvest.org/ to find one near you.)
Organic Produce Delivery Services (A few Atlanta area services to check out: Vegetable Husband, Gaia’s Greens and Nature’s Garden Delivered.)
Your Backyard (Growing your own is probably the most economical way to go. I am going to attempt to grow some stuff this year in my tiny yard. I was the kid who constantly complained about the heat, bees and prickly squash leaves when "helping" in the garden. This will be interesting!)
Finally, just a couple of articles I have found helpful and inspiring recently.
What Do Chicken Labels Really Mean? (Also read previous articles about the author's quest to stop eating cheap chicken.)
The Economic Impact of Eating Locally (especially for Georgians)
In Closing ...
Whew, information overload! However, I hope this can be a helpful resource. I don’t know about you, but I hate going to the grocery store because of all the hard decisions I have to make. I can’t afford to buy 100% organic, so I try to make careful choices – which sometimes aren’t possible when I have two kids screaming at me. I still buy some processed foods and some convenience foods, but I’m trying to cook more, eat better and get my boys to eat more vegetables – which is a challenge. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about my challenges and my splurges. (I have huge sweet tooth if you haven’t noticed.) I really think we have to value what we put into our bodies. Life is too precious to eat bad food!
If you have anything to add to my list or thoughts on any of the articles I posted - I'd love to hear from you!