A life in local food

Running this CSA, (and last year Bells Bend’s), selling food to restaurants, attending farmers markets, going to potlucks, visiting farms, preserving food, and bartering with like-minded people, all characterize a life in local food. There is also a community of chefs who cook in the local restaurants, especially those prioritizing fresh, local ingredients, and they support each other in many ways.

In my weekly restaurant visits, I have acted as a taste tester, or even a courier at times, carrying a special treat from one restaurant kitchen to another. I too have been swept up in this process, trading pickles or kimchi with local chefs, receiving portions of cured meats like salami or summer sausage, or just carrying a joking message full of crass but endearing jibes from one chef to another.

I’ve been invited to far more potlucks than I am able to attend, and have become aware that at least two new farmers markets have opened this year. They are in every corner of Nashville now, each unique, often occurring on different days, and most (thankfully) are thriving. This Saturday I am even playing music at the West Nashville Farmers Market at 9:15 in the morning. (Come on out if you can.)

Last night I attended a gourmet, Italian themed, vegan dinner put on by an inactive CSA member. All I can say is- Wow! I just have to share the menu with you. Everyone received a raspberry mojito mocktail upon arrival. First course consisted of tomato bruschetta and stuffed tomato bites. Next came a cold cucumber and potato soup, followed by a rustic country salad. The main course consisted of a trio- summer stuffed peppers, eggplant gratin, and homemade pasta with a raw tomato sauce. Each divine dessert plate had four items- chocolate cream mousse with almond tuille, chocolate almond truffle, Italian wedding cookie, and a coconut macaroon. There was a condiment plate on each table with a selection of olives, artichoke hearts, and baby pickles, and plenty of bread, including my contribution, garlic and dried tomato focaccia. Wine was optional but seemed to flow endlessly. We all left stuffed full like the peppers.

What struck me was how many people were not vegan, just food lovers who love and support local food, and most of the ingredients were sourced locally. This movement, where food lovers get together to share our local bounty, build community, and support the local economy, is filled with a real diversity of individuals. America has been accused of having no food culture, and perhaps in large part over the last several decades, that was true. There is, however, an emergence of something special going on here, and I feel privileged, not to mention well satiated, to be a part of it.

This Week’s Harvest: Corn, Peppers, Tomatoes, Summer Squash, Cucumbers, Green Beans, Melons, Leeks, Dill, Basil, Parsley

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