Friday, August 15, 2008

Athens Locally Grown

For seven days, I have committed to chronicling all of my meals here. This is Day Four.

I picked up my first order from Athens Locally Grown on Thursday afternoon, and I can definitely see adding this to our meal-planning and shopping repertoire. The variety of products available is superior to that of the farmer’s market and opens up many more possibilities to us, but since once doesn't have the option of actually touching and smelling the produce and making impulse decisions, I will still be attending the Saturday market as well.

The Locally Grown system allows for an order to be placed online on Mondays and Tuesdays (though I noticed many items were already sold out by Tuesday, so I definitely advise making your order sooner rather than later), with a scheduled pick up time on Thursdays between 4:30 and 7:00 pm. For me, that particular quirk is the only drawback to this. By that time of the day, I have a volatile situation with a four year-old who could potentially melt down at any time, a husband who is about to arrive home starving to death, and a baby who will fall asleep in the car during a time when I most certainly do not want her taking a nap.

But what do you do, right? This pickup time is ideal for everyone in the world except me. Kind of hard to hold it against them.

We scheduled some other errands for the same time period so that we wouldn’t have to make a special trip to town, and my sister-in-law was with us, which allowed me to leave Little Miss Piggy in the car with her while I waited for my order. All in all, the whole thing went, well, adequately. I arrived right at 4:30 because I wanted to get home as soon as possible to get dinner started, but I realized too late that the line begins earlier and I should have arrived around 4:15 if I wanted to beat the crowd. Thus, I waited in line for maybe 15 minutes before reaching the table where I told a volunteer my name and handed over my bags. The volunteer then took a piece of paper with my order on it from her stack and went through the tables and coolers and the truck collecting my order for me.

Each of the items was marked with a label with the customer’s name on it, which certainly prevents mistakes from being made, and the volunteers were amazingly efficient and cheerful considering the amount of work that is involved for them. The only glitch for my order was that my beans weren’t there – apparently that farmer had not delivered them – which was mildly frustrating but, frankly, is just the nature of things when you’re trying to buy your foodstuffs directly from the source. Read: I need to be a little less high-strung about perfect meal-planning. Athens Locally Grown is a big deal around here, and I saw somewhere around 30 to 40 customers there during the first 30 minutes of the pickup time (before the after-work rush) so I think it is an impressive feat that they have pulled this off so well to begin with.

Most likely, I will not buy food this way every week, solely because the pickup time is too big of a hurdle for me when I still have the Saturday farmer’s market as an option, but come November, when the market shuts down for the winter, and Locally Grown is the only choice available (and Little Miss Piggy will be a little older and more reasonable), I’ll be leaning heavily on them. And until then, I’m sure I will be making reasonably consistent orders for items like eggs, feta and milk, for which I have found no other sources.

This, our first order, consisted of one gallon of raw milk (which I’ll be interested to see if The Big Boy will appreciate), flat-leaf parsley, okra, Café Choco Andes coffee, feta, and those missing beans. I am very curious to taste the feta (local cheese!) and will report back on that shortly.

Following is Thursday’s food diary.

BREAKFAST: 2 cups of Café Choco Andes coffee with organic vanilla soymilk; leftover frittata from Wednesday night’s dinner (frittata is one of my favorite leftovers)

LUNCH: Leftover Orzo Salad with Garbanzos (I am never going to finish it…)

MID-AFTERNOON ADDICTION: homemade cappuccino made with Café Choco Andes coffee and organic vanilla soymilk

LATE AFTERNOON MIS-STEP: Okay, so I was at the mall (a highly unusual event in and of itself) to get new eyeglasses (first new pair since summer of 1999 – call me a cheapskate, it won’t hurt my feelings) and you know those cups of hot, soft pretzel bites you can get in shopping malls? You know what I’m talking about right? They’re buttery little pillows of high-carb, nutrient-free, heavily-salted madness. And I love them. So I ate one. Only one. One little-tiny pretzel bite. Not an entire cup – just a one-inch square. And I need to find that wet noodle, because it’s time for a flogging.

DINNER: a very decadent, high-fat Fettucine Alfredo made with those knockout Bionature noodles that I keep raving about, steamed broccoli (flog alert: the broccoli was frozen, mass-market, and conventionally-grown) and Lemon-Parsley Bruschetta (recipe below – made with a fresh garlic loaf from Earth Fare, organic lemons from 3000 miles away (grrr), and parsley picked up from Athens Locally Grown)

EVENING SNACK: You expect me to say popcorn, don’t you? Well, I was helping my nephew with his Algebra 2 homework (which I last attempted in 1989) and I didn’t eat a snack. Lesson to take home: helping kids with homework is a valid weight-loss tactic.

LATE NIGHT ADDICTION: Edy’s Strawberry Fruit Bars, obviously (but I only ate two of them – I’ll beat this addiction yet – or, if anyone from Edy’s ever reads this, yes, I’ll be glad to be your spokesperson in exchange for free popsicles).


LEMON-HERB BRUSCHETTA (adapted from Everyday Italian)
  • Baguette or loaf of artisan bread, such as ciabatta, kalamata olive, or Tuscan garlic (my favorite)
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon
  • coarse salt & pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 to 2 Tbs fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  1. On an angle, slice bread into 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick slices.
  2. Combine olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.
  3. Lay bread slices on a baking sheet and broil for 1 minute, until golden on top. Flip slices over and broil other side until golden.
  4. If using any bread other than Tuscan garlic (which already has garlic, obviously), rub cut side of garlic clove onto toasted bread. The heat will melt a little bit of the garlic onto each slice, infusing it with flavor.
  5. Using a pastry brush (or, if you are like me, a cheap paintbrush from the hardware store), brush the lemon oil over the slices of bread.
  6. Sprinkle bread with coarse salt and a grind of pepper.
  7. Sprinkle with chopped herbs.
  8. Serve immediately.


My girlfriend Becky sent me the most fabulous links for coupons on organic dairy products from Organic Valley and Horizon. Bless her.

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