Monday, March 26, 2012

Local Business vs Locavore Business

As the locavore movement grows bigger & bigger everyday, I feel it's important to explain the difference between a local business & a locavore business.  In my culinary adventures, from TN, AL, MS, and FL, I have found that sometimes, it's hard to differentiate between these two, because they are so closely related.  But there are some differences that need pointing out.  In 2008, Congress passed H.R.2419, which amended the "Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act". In the amendment "locally" and "regionally" are grouped together. This means the term local food refers to any product that has been produced & traveled less than 400 miles.  However, most experts in the culinary field will agree that local & regional are 2 separate categories.  Regional is within 400 miles & local is within 100 miles.  For this explanation, we will be looking at food based businesses.  I do support everyone out their trying to make an honest living.  This is not intended to be taken as anyone is doing anything wrong.  My hope is to clarify the differences between these 2 types of business models, so that you the consumer can make the best possible choices when it comes to you & your family.

A Local Business is a locally owned & operated establishment.  They purchase the majority of their products from a corporate vendor, such as Sysco or US Foods, then make their products in house & sell them to the public.  They may or may not be using a small percentage of local products to produce their product.  They are also less likely to advertise where they are getting their supplies from because they are coming from a generic corporate vendor.  This means we have to be prepared to ask the right questions, to determine where the supplies are coming from.  Oftentimes this type of local establishment will mistakenly see other local businesses as their competition & thus they will shy away from showing their support, out of fear that their product will become inferior.  Or they have been doing it the same way for so long that they fear changing over to local will alter their product in some way.  

A Locavore Business is also locally owned & operated (with the exception of some national companies, such as Whole Foods & Chipotle Mexican Grill, which have corporate policies that state each store much purchase locally produced foods, whenever possible).  They are purchasing a certain percentage of their products from other local vendors, like breads from a local bakery to make their sandwiches, or eggs from a local farm to make baked goods.  By using local products, they are putting money back into the local economy.  Typically you will find, other locally produced products for sale, on their shelves.  Ultimately, this type of business naturally creates a community of support.  And they are willing to offer a broader array of local items because of their love for their community.  It's easier for us to determine where their products are coming from because they are proud of what they are doing.  Their products typically tastes better & are better for us because they are using more locally produced ingredients.  They are more sustainable & more likely to be using recycled products, which will keep the earth green.   

In my opinion, Locavore Businesses are "doing it right."  And these are the ones we feature & frequent the most.  I am by no means, against Local Businesses, that would just be silly.  Of course, I am thrilled they are here.  But I find it easier & prefer to frequent those they lean more towards the locavore movement.  And there are many ways that this movement can be carried out.  These definitions are subject to be altered, as we learn more about the way folks are choosing to run their businesses now-a-days.  And I will revise these as needed.  

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Elegant Farmer - Memphis, TN (updated)

From the moment we walked in the door, we knew this was a place where anyone would feel right at home.  The Elegant Farmer, a Project Greenfork certified restaurant, is where you want to be, after a long day of working on the farm (office), where we enjoy the fruits of our labor.  A simple way of getting back to our roots.  And discovering that the best food is located, right in our backyards. It's simple, elegant & without a doubt the BEST food you will ever put in your mouth.  Memphis is doing it better because of Mac Edwards & his entire team. 

Rustic farm tables with wine glasses...gorgeous
In an attempt to bring you as many dishes as possible, our meal began with appetizers...

Mississippi Mushroom Enchiladas
shiitake mushrooms, chipotle/tomato sauce with 3 cheese cream

Local shiitake mushrooms, all wrapped in corn tortillas.  These mushrooms are grown just down the road in Mississippi, on a co-op farm. Then topped with the creamiest 3 cheese sauce, which is the Bechamel sauce from their Mac & Cheese (only served at lunchtime...more on that).  And the chipotle/tomato sauce, which is the tomato broth they simmer their catfish in (another lunchtime treat) combined with a smoky chipotle sauce, from Sparkling River Pepper Company in Mt. Olive, Arkansas.  My husband & I loved this so much that we went home & recreated it the next night.  

Char-cute-erie Plate
array of local cured meats & cheeses, 
currently being featured are meats from Newman Farm 

Grilled Grouper with winter squash puree & hoisin/orange butter with grilled bok choy
What we actually ordered was the Farm Raised Redfish, neither of us had ever tried it & were curious.  However, due to the fact that Mac doesn't settle for less than the freshest of fish, (redfish wasn't available) their fish purveyor sent them the best quality grouper instead.  This entire dish was beyond anything I had ever had before.  Our forks melted into eat layer of flavor, first was this creamy hoisin/orange butter, which was like a savory candy melting over a buttery fish.  The lightly seasoned grouper, wrapped in a delicate sweetness from the winter squash puree brought this entire dish together into what I would consider one of the BEST things I have ever eaten, my husband agreed.  

Stone Ground Cheese Grits
Their grits are actually from The Original Grit Girl, by Georgeanne Ross from Oxford, MS.   This is a new grit company, for us.  I had not heard of them until now.  I would like to retract the previous claim that these were from Delta Grind (which is who I buy from & use in my home kitchen). I love the fact that we now have 2 great grit companies to choose from, when serving this classic southern dish, either in home or out.   

To sum up, our entire evening was phenomenal!!  The service & the cuisine is without a doubt the BEST in the city.  And owner Mac Edwards, came to our table for each course, explaining how they prepared everything & exactly where it came from.  How great is that, that we didn't even have to ask where it was from.  When I talk about local restaurants doing it right, this is what I am talking about.  Knowing where our food comes from is by far the most important aspect, when it comes to choosing restaurants to eat at.

Thanks to Mac & his entire team for setting the bar on how local cuisine should be done.

PS: I just have 1 suggestion...Mac (since it's part of your name & all), I would personally love to see you add your Mac & Cheese to the dinner menu.  As a HUGE (this is putting it lightly) Mac & Cheese fan, I even asked if they would make it for us that night and unfortunately, they couldn't.  

The Elegant Farmer on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 8, 2012


What I am about to share with you, is by far, the most exciting thing that has happened to me, in my food journey.  I have had some amazing opportunities presented to me & I am so very thankful for each one.  So without further a-do, I am honored & thrilled to announce that in August 2012, I will officially be a published author, thanks to the very special folks over at Gooseberry Patch.  My recipe for PB & J Breakfast Bars will hit the shelves in their NEW cookbook titled 101 Breakfast & Brunch Recipes. So mark your calendars now!!!  If you are like me & always looking for great new breakfast & brunch ideas, then this is the cookbook for you.  I can't wait to get my hands on this one & start making everyone's amazing recipes.  

Thanks Gooseberry Batch, for making dreams come true!!
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