FOOD- THE DISH- Slow food revolution! Put money where your mouth is

Kate Collier and her crew at Café Feast! hope folks will put their money where their mouths are and buy local.

Now that the organic food movement has become mainstream– even McDonald's has a "healthy meal" with a salad, a bottle of spring water, and a yoga CD!– a new movement is beginning to take its place: the slow food movement. Basically, its a return to our agrarian roots–- Jefferson would be proud– that encourages people to buy from and support local farmers. 

"I think that the local food movement is booming right now," says Kate Collier of Feast! a food boutique inside the Main Street Market.

"I see articles on the subject all  the time," says Collier, "and the cover of Time last month said, 'Forget organic. Eat local.' People come in the store looking for local foods now." 

To help that movement along, the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) has begun distributing its first annual "Buy fresh, buy local" Food Guide. Based on a recent UVA study of the area's food system, the guide lists contact information for farms, wineries, farmers markets, restaurants and stores where local farm food is sold or used in cooking. 

The guide is available at the Main Street Market, but is also being mailed to every household in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. In addition, a new local food advocacy group was formed last year, E.A.T. Local (Everyone at the Table), which holds monthly forums for those interested in advancing the cause.

What's interesting about the local food movement is that it's also a fairly radical social and economic movement that challenges corporate farming and addresses issues like sustainability, energy conservation, land use, environmental protection, and growth. 

In fact, the UVA study was not performed by agriculturists or nutritionists, but by students and faculty in the Urban & Environmental Planning department within the School of Architecture. Food systems are now being studied as community infrastructures, like housing developments and roads. 

"I hope the Guide will encourage people to discover that local food tastes better than food picked under-ripe and shipped thousands of miles to corporate-owned grocery stores," says Collier, who assisted on the guide. "I hope it will stimulate our local economy so people choose to farm their land instead of selling it for development."  

Ultimately, slow fooders are hoping for an economic revolution of sorts, as people begin to realize they can have an impact on the growth of their communities simply by putting their money where their mouth is.

As the Guide points out, a surprising number of area restaurants, fooderies and grocery stores are setting the table for our local revolt, including A Pimento Catering, Al Dente, Basic Necessities, Blue Light Grill and Raw Bar, Café Feast!, the Clifton Inn, D'Ambola's Restaurant, Fleurie, Hamiltons' at First and Main, Harvest Moon Catering, Ivy Inn Restaurant, L'étoile, Mas Tapas Bar, OXO, Palladio Restaurant, Petit Pois, Revolutionary Soup, The Toliver House, Wahoo Ridge Catering, Cville Market, From Scratch Baking Co., Fabulous Foods and Greenwood Gourmet Grocery in Crozet, Farmer's Foods in Louisa, Integral Yoga, Rebecca's Natural Food, and The Organic Butcher. 

Now let's eat!

Scottsville shell game

Our point person in Scottsville, let's call him/her Deep Palate, says the river town is experiencing a dining upheaval of sorts. 

"The situation is extremely sad," says DP, admitting it's getting hard to keep track of all the openings and closings.

Indeed, late last year The Brick closed down and was replaced by Rivertown Rose, run by Rose Faber, who used to run the High Meadows Inn, which has also closed. Earlier this year, Rivertown Rose closed due to a fire, reopened in April for five days, then closed permanently. 

As you may recalled, Willow Coffee closed last year and was replaced by Java on the James, which lasted only five months. However, DP says the owners of the IGA have bought out the Java on the James folks and plan to reopen it. 

In addition, the renovations to Horsebend Tavern are on hold, and Minor's Diner, which only seats about 13 people, is looking for bigger digs. Meanwhile, the Luv'n Oven is for sale, and plans are afoot to open a deli/bar/restaurant called 330 Valley in the old Rivertown Rose spot, which hopes to open in three to four weeks. Apparently, about the only places staying put in Scottsville these days are BBQ place Pee Wee's Pit and the venerable Dew Drop Inn.