Charlotte Fresh and Hubby wish everyone joy, peace, health and good eats in the new year! We’ve been away visiting family over the holidays (in 20 inches of snow!), and it’s great to be back home. Winter months are planning time for Charlotte Fresh (I’ve got a huge spring veggie garden to get prepared), so expect blog posts to come less frequently for a little while. Less writing doesn’t mean less doing; we will continue to support our local farmers, markets and restaurants throughout the winter, and hopefully so will you. There are so many ways to support local food – make healthy choices that work for you, and get ready for an awesome year!
For those of you making New Year’s resolutions for 2011, here are a few to consider adding to your list:
- Get more involved in the local food scene. Join an organization that supports local food like Slow Food Charlotte, the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) or the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council. This holiday, I received a gift membership to CFSA from my in-laws (thanks again, Mom & Dad!), and already am getting great messages from the listserv. Volunteer at your local farmers market, work with other volunteers at Know Your Farms or join a Crop Mob to help out on a North Carolina Farm.
- Educate yourself more about where food comes from. Resolve to get to know at least one local farmer and visit a farm. Read books like Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma or Nicolette Hahn Niman’s Righteous Porkchop. Watch this brief video from TedxNextGenerationAsheville and documentaries like Food, Inc., King Corn, Fresh and Two Angry Moms.
- Join the NC 10% campaign. This campaign has been around for a little while, but the new year is a good time to consider really making a commitment to it. Support NC farmers and businesses by pledging to spend 10% of your food dollars locally. In doing so, you will be helping to build NC’s local sustainable food economy. Hubby and I already spend way more than 10% of our food dollars locally, but have officially made the pledge to help demonstrate viability of the program. Here are some facts quoted from the April 2010 press release by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems:
“According the U.S. Department of Agriculture, North Carolinians spend about $35 billion a year on food. If individuals spent just 10 percent, or $1.05 per day, of their existing food dollars on local foods, approximately $3.5 billion would be available in the local economy. And part of that $3.5 billion would flow back to farmers and food businesses. Greater spending locally can also increase the economic activity at the regional and community level, which can translate into jobs.”
- Support the 3/50 Project. Pick three local businesses that you would miss if they disappeared and make a conscious effort to spend $50 per month at each one. According to the organization, for every $100 spent locally, $68 returns to the community. If you spend that same amount at a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spent online, the local community gets nothing. Even if you pick one local establishment to support, you’re doing good in your community. And it’s way easy to do by shopping at your local farmers’ markets or by visiting local restaurants. January is a perfect time to get into the habit of supporting local restaurants because The Queen’s Feast is almost upon us. This Charlotte Restaurant Week event running from January 21-30, 2011 features 3-course, prix fixe dinner menus at great restaurants for only $30 per person (not including tax and gratuity). When you visit for the Feast, selected restaurants are also offering AAA rates on gift certificates for future visits (e.g. pay $25 for a $50 value – see site for details). It’s the perfect time to get to that place you’ve been dying to try. There are over 80 restaurants participating this year; here are a few restaurants on the list who have chefs known to support the local food movement:
Flatiron Kitchen & Tap Room
Halcyon, Flavors from the Earth