Small bites: ASAP goes on the air

FOOD FORWARD: Jen Nathan Orris, left, host and producer of ASAP's new "Growing Local" radio series broadcast, interviews North Buncombe Elementary School third-grader Brooklyn Byrd as she tries local sweet potatoes — a first for some of the students. The program "focuses on local food systems and the many people and places that push the movement forward," Orris says. Photo courtesy of Buncombe County Schools Communications Department

As many Ashevilleans are finalizing the transition from lazy Sunday to work week, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s Jen Nathan Orris is already mic’d up. Since November, she’s been serving as host and producer of ASAP radio series “Growing Local,” which airs on WNCW each Monday at 8:45 a.m. and “explores innovative local farms, food buyers and community partners to document how they’re working to improve our region’s food system,” she says.

“Growing Local’s” two-pronged mission is “to encourage the public to actively participate in the local food community and to let them listen in on farmers, chefs and food buyers as they work to bring healthy food to our tables,” Orris explains, calling Ashevilleans “uniquely dedicated to local food.”

Orris’ program broadcasts throughout WNCW’s coverage area (Charlotte to Greenville, S.C.; most areas of WNC and east Tennessee) during breaks in National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” — a popular show that airs around the nation and is often supplemented with local programming. Orris says WNCW has been very generous to have offered these peak listening slots, which she fills with a combination of 90-second “radio essays” plus four-minute feature stories.

While the essays range from the practical (i.e. finding local food during the winter) to the cerebral (how do we know if food is really local?), Orris’ longer feature stories will aim to “transport listeners to places where local food is in action.” She says all segments will tie into the ongoing work of ASAP’s Local Food Research Center, which studies social, economic, environmental and other factors of agriculture and consumer behavior as they relate to food-system change.

“We visited a free-range turkey farm for Thanksgiving and [held] a school taste test where many students tried local sweet potatoes for the first time,” Orris says, citing recent story examples. “The voices of students and the sounds of the taste test in action provided an experiential element, while the last 30 seconds offered ways for the public to participate in future school taste tests.”

A former editor and current contributor to multiple publications, Orris calls radio a “sonic journey” and “a brilliant medium for breaking down complex topics and presenting them in ways that engage people on many levels.”

Tune into WNCW 88.7 FM at 8:45 a.m. Mondays for current coverage or check out soundcloud.com/growinglocal to hear previous episodes. Visit asapconnections.org for more information about ASAP’s work.

DIY garden wines, meads and ciders

Fruits, berries, flowers, herbs, vegetables, root crops, grains and even some leaves can be turned into wine with little investment, according to Nan K. Chase, co-author of Drink the Harvest and author of Eat Your Yard. The Asheville-based gardener’s forthcoming workshop covers a range of topics pertaining to beverage fermentation, such as equipment, sanitation and temperature guidelines, harvesting and handling ingredients, racking (clarifying) and bottling. Using these techniques, Chase has built a personal collection of creations that includes strawberry wine, crabapple hard cider and locally sourced kudzu mead.

Chase’s class is 5-9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17, at Villagers, 278 Haywood Road. $40 per person for the class only, or $55 for class and wine-making kit. Visit forvillagers.com for details.

Pro knife skills workshop

An upcoming class at Living Web Farms will educate home chefs on the care and use of a ubiquitous kitchen tool. “Learn to weild a knife like a chef,” reads an event description. “Learn cutting techniques, recipe vocabulary, the purpose of each type of kitchen knife and how to keep your blades in top shape.” Farmer and chef Meredith Leigh leads the lesson.

The session is 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, at Living Web Farms, 176 Kimzey Road, Mills River. $10 suggested donation. Visit avl.mx/prrt for more information.

Asheville Restaurant Week

Presented by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, Asheville Restaurant Week sees dozens of local chefs offering multicourse prix fixe lunches and dinners — a $15 two-course lunch for one; $30 three-course dinner for one; $30 two-course meal for two; or $20 two-course meal for two. Each participating restaurant will present a unique Asheville Restaurant Week menu for the occasion in addition to normal offerings.

Asheville Restaurant Week takes place at participating eateries Tuesday, Jan. 19, to Thursday, Jan. 28. Visit exploreasheville.com/restaurant-week for more information or to make a reservation (strongly recommended). Beverage, tax and gratuity are not included.

Asheville Wing War

Tickets are on sale for the Asheville Wing War, a competitive celebration of chicken consumption with a history of selling out. General admission ($8/$10) allows attendees to buy wing samples plus beer from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and Pisgah Brewing, while VIP tickets ($40) earn bottomless food and drink. In addition to wings from more than a dozen local eateries — which are voted on by attendees and celebrity judges — the fifth annual event includes live music by Andrew Scotchie & The River Rats.

Asheville Wing Wars is 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, at Crowne Plaza Asheville, 1 Resort Drive. Visit ashevillewingwar.com for information and tickets.

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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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