Madison is such a hot spot of great food that even the folks at Fox News have noticed:
If someone were to ask you what’s one of the best U.S. cities for farm-to-table dining and local foods, [you’d] probably say New York, Chicago, or Portland, right?
But Madison (yes Madison, Wisconsin) — a city with fewer than 300,000 people — has one of the strongest local foods scenes in the country….
Surrounded by farmland and natural resources, farm-to-table dining in Madison is a no-brainer. It’s not a gimmick or a good PR move, as it has become in so many other places. It’s just the natural state of things.
Find the full piece here, which offers ten reasons why Madison is a “foodie paradise.”
The clearest sign that you are at a farmers’ market in California rather than Wisconsin: lots of citrus.
Strolling of the Heifers, a Vermont-based organization committed to strengthening local food systems, recently released its 2013 Locavore Index. (Thanks for the tip, R!) The index compiles data on factors like number of farmers’ markets and CSAs in all 50 states (plus Washington, D.C.), adjusts those factors by the population of a given state, and ranks the resulting scores. Vermont (coincidence?) tops the list, and Texas comes in dead last. I was happy and not at all surprised to see that my adopted state of Wisconsin ranks highly at #9. By a 7-figure margin, it also has the largest population of the states in the top 10, which means not only do we have a lot of locavore goodness on a per capita basis, we also have a lot of locavore goodness period, including nearly 300 farmers’ markets.
As the news release details,
Strolling of the Heifers executive director Orly Munzing said the purpose of the Index is to encourage local food efforts in every state. “There are so many ways to do that,” she said, “not just with farmers markets and CSAs, but by supporting Farm-To-School programs, urging local hospitals and nursing homes to purchase local foods, asking supermarkets to buy from local farms, and of course, celebrating and honoring our farmers whenever we can.”
The post also articulates some of the reasons why local foods and farms are worth supporting; here’s just a sampling:
• Local food encourages diversification of local agriculture, which reduces the reliance on monoculture — single crops grown over a wide area to the detriment of soils.
• Local foods build local economies by circulating food dollars locally and creating local jobs by supporting family farms and local food processing and distribution systems
• Local foods promote agritourism — farmers markets and opportunities to visit farms and local food producers help draw tourists to a region.
In honor of a good friend who’s home visiting family in L.A. for a few weeks, I thought for today’s post I’d share this recent slideshow from L.A. Weekly photographer Amy Scattergood. The bounty looks amazing! (Stone fruits and strawberries are definitely not in season yet here in the Midwest.) There’s a full set of 21 pics, including less familiar produce like lovage. Check out the photos there, and take in another slideshow from May 2010 thanks to Flickr member Muy Yum.
Happy shopping at your local farmers’ market, farm stand, locavore-friendly supermarket, or CSA!