farm to table

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Is Atlanta's story better than Tampa's "Farm to Fable"?

Posted By on Wed, Jun 1, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Chefs and farmers talk local sourcing at the Nosh Talks roundtable - BRANDON AMATO
  • Brandon Amato
  • Chefs and farmers talk local sourcing at the Nosh Talks roundtable

The food world was abuzz in April when the Tampa Bay Times ran a series titled Farm to Fable, with a headline stating, "at Tampa Bay farm-to-table restaurants, you’re being fed fiction." One aspect that made the story so notable was not just the premise of restaurants deceiving consumers, but the fact that author and Tampa Bay Times Food Critic Laura Reiley had so thoroughly researched and documented case after case after case of lies and misrepresentations by Tampa area restaurants. Anyone reading the story couldn't help but wonder, "How does my city's farm-to-table situation compare to Tampa's?"

As an Atlanta food writer and farmers market devotee, I believe that we're not anywhere near as bad as the Tampa depicted in Reiley's story. Atlanta has a thriving local/regional farm and farmers market scene. We have restaurants going above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to farm to table sourcing. We have numerous organizations making real headway in a range of food issues tied to local and sustainable practices. But even when taking all of that into account, the nagging question still remains: Are some of our restaurants selling diners a bit of fiction when it comes to their farm-to-table promises? Who better to answer that question than a roundtable of Atlanta chefs, plus the farmers themselves who work so hard to get locally grown produce and protein on the table.

Shortly after the Tampa Bay Times story came out, it just so happened that a restaurant industry group called Nosh Talks was putting on such a roundtable. The invitation promised "a panel of marriage counseling ... chefs, farmers, how they work together, and everything in between." While the two hour discussion didn't specifically touch on the Tampa story, the overwhelming takeaway was that Atlanta restaurants are in a good place and consistently improving their relationships with farmers ... but the system isn't perfect.  

After the panel, I followed up with the chefs and farmers to specifically address the state of local sourcing in Atlanta restaurants, and what diners can do to be better informed. Here's what they had to say:

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

6 chefs, 6 courses, One Harvest

Posted By on Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 12:01 PM

6 Chefs + One Harvest - HEIDI GELDHAUSER
  • Heidi Geldhauser
  • 6 Chefs + One Harvest
Using the best of early fall's bounty from local farms including Ashland Farms, Grassroots Farms, Mercier Orchard, and Woodland Gardens, One Midtown Kitchen is hosting a delightful Sunday supper dinner to usher in the harvest season. 

This Sun., Oct. 11, six Concentrics Restaurants chefs will whip up six courses featuring autumnal flavors. Aromas of sage, pumpkin seed brittle, venison, chestnut puree, and butternut squash will likely fill the room. Word on the street is there will be black olive and goat cheese macarons. We also heard tell of a cardoon ravioli with bitter greens and wild mushrooms. 

The dinner's participating chefs include Chris Maker and Matt Weinstein (One Midtown Kitchen), David Connolly (Tap), Michael Betozzi and Deborah Craig (Two Urban Licks), and Stuart Tracy (The Brasserie and Neighborhood Cafe at Parish). Welcome cocktails begin at 6 p.m.. and dinner is served at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $65 and include wine pairings with dinner. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Giving Kitchen. <i>One Midtown Kitchen, 559 Dutch Valley Road N.E. 404-892-4111.</i>

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Navigating farmers markets with Steven Satterfield's 'Root to Leaf'

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 1:06 PM

Root to Leaf Radish Sandwich

I'm one of those fanatics who counts down the days to spring's first farmers markets, eagerly awaiting the ramps and the radishes and the weekly chance to check in on farmers and cheesemakers and foragers alike. This year, I had April 11 circled on my virtual calendar - the first day for the Peachtree Road Farmers Market. When I heard about the new book from Miller Union chef, Steven Satterfield, I knew I had to grab a copy before opening day. I had a feeling the book, Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons, would make a perfect companion for that trip. What I didn't know was how much of a kindred spirit Satterfield would prove to be. In the very first paragraph he writes:

One hour. 23 minutes. 12 seconds. I glanced at the countdown clock on the East Atlanta Village Farmers Market website. It was ticking down to the late-afternoon season opening and I made a point to arrive right on time, knowing it would be swarmed. It was the first warm day of spring and the market was teeming with energy.

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pastured Poultry comes back next week for its third celebration

Posted By on Thu, Jul 3, 2014 at 9:00 AM

More than 40 chefs and restaurants statewide will feature Georgia-grown pastured poultry on their menus next week in honor of Pastured Poultry Week. The event was founded and organized by leading farm animal welfare organization Compassion in World Farming USA (CIWF) and Georgians for Pastured Poultry (GPP), an alliance of concerned citizens, nonprofits, businesses, academics, and farmers that advocates on behalf of the pastured poultry industry in Georgia.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Freewheel Farm: The little urban farm that could

Posted By on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 1:25 PM

FREE WHEELING: Freewheel Farms Monica Ponce (left) and Brent Hall tend their crops
  • Laura Sullivan
  • FREE WHEELING: Freewheel Farm's Monica Ponce (left) and Brent Hall tend their crops

On one of the first sweaty-hot Saturdays this year, Brent Hall and Monica Ponce of Freewheel Farm could be found pinching zingy arugula from long, colorful rows, getting ready for the Grant Park Farmers Market. Held each Sunday along the southwest edge of the park - just .3 miles from their farm situated near the border of Grant Park and Summerhill - it is their home market.

Freewheel sits on a piece of land any typical, smaller house in Grant Park sits on. Translation: it's tiny. Even so, Ponce and Hall manage to grow an impressive array of veggies there - swiss chard, tomatoes, leeks, kale, beans, and tomatillos, to name a few. They've just expanded, clearing out a whole new "upper" plot for summer planting. A pile of logs rests in the shade nearby getting ready to sprout shiitakes.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Q&A with the urban foragers of Concrete Jungle

Posted By on Thu, Sep 19, 2013 at 7:06 AM

GATHERERS: Concrete Jungles (clockwise from top) Katherine Kennedy, Aubrey Daniels, and Craig Durkin,
  • Kyle Bowman
  • GATHERERS: Concrete Jungle's (clockwise from top) Katherine Kennedy, Aubrey Daniels, and Craig Durkin.
I recently found myself holding a giant tarp with a dozen other volunteers under an apple tree. It was just before noon on a sunny Saturday during the last weekend of August, and we were standing in the front yard of someone we had never met before. Looking up, we watched an adventurous volunteer climb to the top of the tall apple tree. He began shaking the branches with his full body weight. Suddenly, it was raining apples into our tarp. It was my first urban foraging experience with Concrete Jungle.

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Saying bye to peaches at Grant Park Farmers Market

Posted By on Thu, Sep 5, 2013 at 2:04 PM

I moseyed over to the Grant Park Farmers Market last Sunday in search of fruit. All I could find were these peaches from Watsonia Farms of Monetta, SC.

The guy manning Watsonia's booth told me that the peach season has ended and he would almost certainly not be returning next week.

We got to talking about the endless peach war between South Carolina and Georgia. Flavor aside, South Carolina far outpaces Georgia in actual production. Georgia farmers claim, though, that their peaches have better flavor.

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Friday, May 31, 2013

The Turnip Truck brings the farm to the table

Posted By on Fri, May 31, 2013 at 9:00 AM

LOCAVORE: Owner Michael Schenck loads up the Turnip Truck.
  • Joeff Davis
  • LOCAVORE: Owner Michael Schenck loads up the Turnip Truck.

Let's just get this out of the way now: Yes, the Turnip Truck, Atlanta's go-to independent distributor of local, farm-fresh produce, does at times actually carry turnips. And no, owner Michael Schenck did not recently fall off of it.

After working in kitchens for most of his life, the 34-year-old Greensboro, N.C., native began sourcing and delivering local produce to top Atlanta restaurants nearly five years ago.

"Back then, you'd see the same farmers at the same places all the time," Schenck says, "I'd go the markets at 3 p.m. on a Saturday, and the farmers had been there since 6 a.m., sweating and tired. I thought, 'What if we could consolidate some of that energy?'"

At a time when Atlanta chefs were beginning to request more local product than ever before - far more than what was being offered by large distributors - Schenck also noticed that the way in which farmers got their products to restaurants was often a logistical nightmare...

Continue reading "The Turnip Truck brings the farm to the table" by Osayi Endolyn

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A recipe fit for spring

Posted By on Tue, May 28, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Cooking with Fiddlehead ferns is fun!

Spring has sprung and summer is fast approaching. The crape myrtle tree outside my house has burst forth with sprightly green leaves over the course of one short week. Bushes, plants, and blossoms are deep red and bright pink and pretty fuchsia. There are random blizzards of ornamental pear tree petals, suspended swells of white swaying left to right, up and down. On a stroll through my neighborhood, a plethora of birds are chirping to and fro as they fly, dogs are barking at and sniffing one another, and cats are prowling about the newly verdant shrubbery. Everyone is out and about, enjoying the change of season.

With spring come spring vegetables.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Q&A with local farmer Bobby Britt

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 9:33 AM

You and I might say "tomatoes." As in, the last syllable sounds like the toes on your feet. Farmer Bobby Britt says "tuh-mayt-as," as in, born and raised in the not-too-distant country nook of southeast Decatur. Since 2006, Britt has cultivated quite the professional garden on Besmaid Garden's 1.645 acres, supplying some of the city's best restaurants with a range of organic, fresh-picked produce throughout the year.

Even if you've never seen Britt's Moses-like towering frame at the farmers markets, or caught a glimpse while he makes his own restaurant deliveries, his green thumbprint can be found all over. His crops have graced the plates at Cakes & Ale, 246, 4th & Swift, Woodfire Grill, Haven, Valenza, Empire State South, Serpas, One Eared Stag, Holeman & Finch, Fig Jam, and our dearly departed Pura Vida. The man certainly has a way about him. But Britt isn't all that concerned with flash. He's got his knees in the dirt and his eyes on the future, hoping that the farm he inherited from his dad will sustain itself for the next generation.

Where did you get your green thumb?

Continue reading "Q&A with local farmer Bobby Britt" by Osayi Endolyn

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