Oh, how my aspirations were high when I thought that I could be a blogger and keep this thing up day by day or week by week. Alas, things got away from me and after 2 posts, I gently let these aspirations slip away. As the summer starts to fade, however, and we begin to welcome the first cool nights, the first winter squashes, the first bonfires and the last sleepy porch sitting afternoons, I am returning to the world of blogging. Hopefully, you will all greet me with open arms.
My first topic of discussion is a plug to the next book that we will be discussing at the PLACE book club, which meets on Tuesday, September 21st, after the Farmer's Market at Little Kings Shuffle Club. We are reading Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly by James E. McWilliams. This book outlines a valid argument concerning the greater points to forming a sustainable global food system over focusing on a local food system. He speaks about the importance of the general carbon footprint over the number of food miles an individual piece of food travels from field to fork. He points out the follies of the big organic producers. He argues that a meat eater cannot call himself an environmentalist, especially if they are eating any of the mass raised and slaughtered land dwellers. He does say that happy meat, as I like to call it, or sustainable, small scale farming of beef, pork and poultry is better for the environment than the farms that are involved with mass production, but only barely. He gives a strong argument towards aquaculture, and says that sustainably farmed fish is the best source of protein for the planet. He even goes so far as to defend genetically modified foods to an extent, and he blames government farming subsidies for a great deal of our problems. He generally wants to make us think on a more global level. I see what he is saying about a lot of these arguments, but I feel like there is a balance we can strike between being locavores and helping to establish a sustainable global food system. Obviously, we have quite a ways to go, and need some pushing to set us off in the right direction. If you have read some or all of the book, I hope you can come out and join us for discussion. There is still time to read some of it by next Tuesday, and if you need to borrow my copy, feel free.
a name, and a plan...
On a very exciting note, I have thought of a name for my upcoming restaurant...Heirloom Cafe & Fresh Market. Sleepy, bobble-heading Jess came to this one evening last week, mulled it over for a day or so and presented it to the world. It is exactly what I have been looking for to express everything that I want this business to be. An heirloom is a gift passed down from generation to generation, something precious and delicate or sturdy and rugged, but most importantly, something to be saved and savored. It is a part of our history and a part of our present, and it is a treasure that could easily be lost in careless hands. Not only can a piece of antique china or an old farm table be an heirloom, but also a folk tale, a piece of land or in this case, a food tradition.
Athens is a community that embraces its own, and cherishes it, that fights against the modern or corporate, but embraces new businesses that are indicative of our place. Heirloom will embrace the growing food culture of Athens that is immersed within these old traditions as well as the culture that surrounds new innovations in sustainable farming. Our farmers grow heirloom vegetables, from seeds that have been tediously saved from year to year. The Athens farmers market is full of varietals of tomatoes, okra, squash and beans that haven't been seen in a supermarket since the 1920's. The seeds are painstakingly sewn and the starts are gently tended by people we know in our surrounding fields. We are also lucky to have farmers who are raising heritage breeds of pigs, cows and chickens in our community that would have died out long ago if they were not being kept alive, raised and marketed on this scale.
Not only will we be supporting our local farmers by selling the fruits of their labor in our market, but we will also be using their products to provide you with a cozy, friendly and delicious dining experience like no other you find in Athens. Located in a rehabilitated space within a thriving historic neighborhood, Heirloom will provide the community with a warm gathering place and a vital food hub. Dressed in handmade aprons, amid shelves of staples, produce, dairy, proteins, coffee, pastries and prepared meals, our friendly staff will assist community members with their selections on the way to and from work or school, or take their order for breakfast or lunch to eat in our luminous dining room or on our lush patio. Dinner, a more leisurely sit down affair, will be table service and hosted by smiling, courteous staff, or can be picked up from the market by busy mothers or business people in a rush to get home. Sleepy hipsters or families on a stroll can join us for brunch on our patio, offering farm fresh egg dishes, housemade pastries and other delicious treats.
My goal is to provide the community with a dining and food experience that they can embrace and love, passing along the love for food and the appreciation for food traditions that has been provided to me by past generations.
"The foundation on which [Southern food] rested was pure ingredients, open-pollinated seed--planted and replanted for generations--natural fertilizers. We grew the seeds of what we ate, and we worked with love and care." -Edna Lewis