Top 10 reasons to buy local food include: Better tasting food, sustaining rural heritage and protecting the natural beauty of the mountains, says the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. For your wedding, tapping into the bounty of local farms has never been easier.
"When you buy local food, you help keep local farms in business, strengthen our economy, preserve rural landscapes and encourage sustainable agricultural practices," adds ASAP's marketing and communications contact, Rose McLarney. "And you benefit directly: You enjoy fresher food."
Know those popular green bumper stickers that read "Local Food: Thousands of Miles Fresher"? — that's what they're talking about.
"For a special event like a wedding, you want the best ingredients," explains McLarney. "When you buy local, you get those in several senses. You get better tasting food. You get unique, regional food that is a reflection of your wedding's location. And you get food that's really fitting for a celebration, because it's good for your whole community."
A bride and groom who live in WNC probably already have an idea of their favorite local flavors. They might know a farmer from one of the area's many tailgate markets, or favor a particular baker or producer of specialty foods. Mead, wine, beer, goat cheese, chocolate, honey and jam are just a handful of the many products that can be locally sourced.
For those planing a wedding from afar (or for local residents needing some suggestions), McLarney recommends ASAP's Local Food Guide at www.buyappalachian.org. "They can either search for specific ingredients or browse the Caterers & Bakers section," she says.
Salad dressing, coffee and freshly milled grains can be found in the guide; so can vegetarian chefs, dessert masterminds and pasta makers.
Local food, like slow food, is a movement. Actually, the two are intimately linked. "Slow food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating," reads the Slow Food USA Web site. "It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment." But if joining a movement seems like a major undertaking on top of planning and carrying off a wedding, don't let the revolutionary language throw you. At its essence, local food means edibles that travel the shortest distance from farm to plate. Whether it's an heirloom tomato or a delicately balanced, three-tiered cake, the less time spend in transit, the better.
And, because wedding planning doesn't leave much spare time for trawling farmers markets in search of the best radicchio and ripest strawberries, consider leaving all that shopping to the experts. The local caterer or chef you choose to prepare you meal or hors d'oeuvres can sleuth in your stead. Another bonus for going local: the folks making your food have the insider info on where to find the very best goods.
"We have had the pleasure of serving several 100-mile menus to brides and grooms who are committed to minimizing the environmental impact of their wedding and showcasing the very best of what WNC has to offer," writes Miki Kilpatrick from Saffron Fine Foods. "All of the meat, fish, fresh vegetables and dairy are sourced from within a 100-mile radius."
A few of the many places Saffron Fine Foods gets delicious veggies, meats & cheeses:
Happy Cow Creamery, Pelzer, SC
Looking Glass Creamery, Asheville
Sunburst Trout Farm, Candler
Farside Farms, Asheville
Huntley Family Farms, Barnardsville
Deep Woods Mushrooms, Mills River
Madison Farms, All-Over-Madison-County
Holly Springs Nursery, Mills River