[This article originally appeared in the September/October 2011 edition of Velocity Magazine. Read it in it’s original format here.]
Highlights from the Central Florida Good Food Movement
Look no further than Central Florida local food movement to see proof of what happens when a group of dedicated individuals sets out to revolutionize a town. Five years ago, the few folks who even knew they wanted to eat local were hard pressed to find it anywhere. Now, due to the vision and hard work of a growing list of local food lovers, the gaps in a broken food system are being filled so that everyone can get the stuff delivered right to their door and access to producers is being made easier than ever. Today, you can gather – at the table, the community market, the food truck bazaar.
Local Roots: Farm to Restaurant Distribution Filling a huge gap in our local food network is this new distribution company with the goal of creating strong relationships between local producers and chefs in a way they both have time for. The company will fill a niche market with truly local artisan product from small to medium emerging producers. Started by Orlando native Emily Rankin who is local food visionary and founder of Audubon Park Community Market and co-founder of Ourlando. Expect to see more of your favorite eateries dishing up farm to fork deliciousness.
Central Florida Local Food Guide The Simple Living Institute brings us the Central Florida Sustainable Food Project: a six-county regional inventory and mapping exercise of farms, community gardens, farmers’ markets, CSAs, U-pick operations, food producers, and restaurants and businesses that sell locally grown products. The munch anticipated guide, spearheaded by Andrew Landis, is due out in August and is the first comprehensive listing of farms, community gardens, and farmers markets in the region. It is FREE and available in print format and online.
Edible Orlando What’s a local food scene without an Edible? Some might say that the arrival of an Orlando edition of this nationwide magazine which shines a bright light on the area foodshed might mean that we’ve collectively, ahem, arrived. We’re a real town now – joining Portland, Austin, Asheville, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, New York and the rest of them. The Fall Issue celebrates their first anniversary and highlights a vegan Thanksgiving!
Eat Local Week, November 11th-18th, Slow Food Orlando is launching their 2nd annual Eat Local Week just before Thanksgiving, perfect timing to taste the difference and talk about it around the table with family and friends on this most grateful of days. Participating restaurants feature menu items sourced from within 200 miles of Central Florida, which the group hopes will:
- Emphasize that eating local in Central Florida is not only possible, it’s delicious.
- Help local restaurants, farmers and artisans to develop lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.
- Build consumer awareness of local food and farmers while promoting reconnection with family and friends around the dinner table.
- Raise awareness about the importance of a local food economy and keeping money in our community.
Winter Park Harvest Festival, Nov 19th-20th, In the words of organizer John Rife, this festival is focused on “connecting the grass-roots with the deep-roots” of our local food-shed by celebrating our local farmers, gardeners, entrepreneurs and non-profits. In its second year, this festival is expanding from one to two days, adding seminars, workshops & roundtables with cooking demonstrations, Organic Gardening sessions and Meet the Farmer spotlights along with youth focused sessions, games, hands-on and „do-it-yourself‰ gardening and crafts activities. Returning will be a „producer-only‰ farmers‚ market where families can purchase many of their Thanksgiving provisions, a mobile community garden with 100+ raised-bed garden boxes grown by area schools, churches, families and organizations and a Farm-to-Table Dinner consisting of locally-sourced foods prepared by some of Winter Park‚s most talented chefs. You can bet the farm that bluegrass, traditional and folk musicians will be on hand to round out a this festival and tie up Slow Foods Eat Local Week.
My Yard Farm This two guy team, Gus & Henry, have grown their edible landscape business with great success. They boast over 90 residential properties and are poised to set down roots at several area resorts. Their Edible Nurseries like the one found at Dandelion will be replicated throughout town and while Culinary Garden installations at top restaurants continue to grow. More exciting things are also in the works which I’m not able to share here, but key your eye on these guys – good food is not very far away!
Homegrown Co-op It’s been a big year for Homegrown – they’ve upgraded locations to a Retail Farm Store on Orange Ave, added delivery to their service and hosted their first Farm to Fork Fundraiser with style. The Co-op offers a unique & convenient grocery shopping experience through an Online Farmer’s Market where the farmers set their own prices. By ordering direct from Florida farms, most of your food is harvested and delivered to you on the same day. Plans are in the works for EBT acceptance.
Food Truck Bazaar Food Truck mania has swept the nation, and thanks to Mark Baratelli of The DailyCity.com, it’s arrived big time in Orlando. The sexiest local street food in town can be found on wheels: Big Wheel Provisions by Chef Tony Adams is gourmet local deliciousness when it isn’t sold out, We All Scream vegan ice cream cart has root beer floats, and Everything Organic serves up a selection of raw and vegetarian goodness from area producers. There are a several Food Truck weekly and special events held throughout the city, bring a small portable stool to the larger events, as lines can be long!
Did I miss something? Please leave comments below about other awesome local goodness going on!