Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Livin' La Local Vida

There are days, weeks, and months dedicated to raising awareness of all kinds of ailments, issues, organizations and causes. In Cleveland we’re right smack in the middle of Local Foods Week. It’s meant to educate and energize us about the sustainably grown, raised, and produced edibles from the region and why it is so important to spend some of our food dollars on these products. When we shop at a farmers market or dine at a restaurant with a farm to plate commitment, it’s a guarantee of fresh, wholesome and delicious fruit, vegetables, meat and poultry, and dairy products. But there’s more to it. The money we spend supports jobs for people that live here, fuels economic growth in northeast Ohio, helps preserve our farmland, and is an ecologically responsible choice. If you aren’t already aware of all this, now’s the moment to say Wow!

Participating in this group hug for local food is not hard. You can do it on your own, at home, or with others and in public places. There lots of events to attend between now and Sunday. Tonight participating restaurants will be offering special dishes featuring fresh from the farm ingredients. Friday there will be a Lunch Mob for like minded brown baggers – location a secret until that morning. Click here for a list of more options and ideas.

I have another suggestion that’s not on the official list. Attend the Western Reserve Herb Society Herb Fair at Cleveland Botanical Garden, Saturday Oct 9. Find vinegars, mustards, jellies, teas, and culinary blends made with herbs grown by Society members, and get tips for starting your own garden next year.

Consider joining Local Food Cleveland, a free online community and self described “action network” for those who are passionate about growing a thriving local food economy and culture in Cleveland. Then take the Local Food Challnge- it’s a promise you make to yourself to eat at least one meal made up of stuff that’s been rasied in or on northeast Ohio soil- and post about it on Local Food Cleveland.

If you’re lucky there are still some seats left for the Harvest Dinner at The Flying Fig on Sunday Oct 10. The meal is sponsored by Slow Food. Karen Small's locally rooted menu looks amazing and tickets are only $35 per person. Call (216) 241-4243 for reservations. But don’t fret should it be sold out. Small is deeply committed to featuring Ohio farm products in her restaurant. This season she got much stuff, and still is, from the amazing Ohio City Farm just down the street – a partnership that gives local a whole new dimension. The Farm is welcoming visitors on Sunday too.

Another way to get a taste of what Small does with the local bounty is get some grab and go food from her new Market at the Fig, next door to the restaurant. I stopped in recently and picked up a pound of wonderful stuffed Ohio pork loin and a crusty baguette baked in her own kitchen. Dubbed a small Euro-style urban pantry, the daily selection of salads, sandwiches and prepared entrees makes eating locally easier than ever.

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