Small bites: International Moveable Feast

FAIR TRADE: "Our mission is poverty alleviation through fair trading relationships," says Sara Martin, store manager of Ten Thousand Villages in Asheville. "We're really committed to having direct relationships with the makers in developing countries that we work with."
FAIR TRADE: "Our mission is poverty alleviation through fair trading relationships," says Sara Martin, store manager of Ten Thousand Villages in Asheville. "We're really committed to having direct relationships with the makers in developing countries that we work with." Photo by Thomas Calder

Since 1992, Ten Thousand Villages in Asheville has worked to alleviate poverty through fair trade. The nonprofit’s downtown retail store features products from more than 130 artisan groups in 38 countries. Buying fair trade, says store manager Sara Martin, “furthers empowerment in developing countries. … It creates a lot of transparency between the business, the artisan and the customer, as well.”

On Tuesday, Oct. 3, the nonprofit will celebrate 25 years in Western North Carolina with the International Moveable Feast. The event, which a press release describes as “a shining example of that global-to-local support,” gives ticket holders an international food tour of downtown Asheville with a series of small-plate courses at restaurants that have business practices and values similar with those of Ten Thousand Villages.

The gathering kicks off with tea and wine at the nonprofit’s retail shop on College Street. Level Ground Trading, a direct trade company, will supply the tea leaves sourced from small farms in India (wine options were not available at the time of publication). Next, attendees will make their way to Kathmandu Café for Indian and Nepalese appetizers followed by a stroll over to Addissae for an Ethiopian vegetarian course. The event’s main dish will be served at Blue Dream Curry, with the evening wrapping up back at Ten Thousand Villages with fair trade chocolate and coffee.

Martin notes that the organization works with developing countries in Central and South America, Southeast Asia and Africa, and that she hopes the International Moveable Feast will represent “a cuisine from each of those continents — to really travel through the world of our artisans through this meal.” She also sees the evening celebration as a chance to open people’s minds to the importance of fair trade and the impact it has on local, national and international communities.

“Anytime we can encourage customers to want to know more about where the product they’re purchasing comes from — whether that’s from a local artist in the River Arts District or a woman in rural Bangladesh who makes baskets — I think that benefits everyone because it fosters this desire to know more and to understand that connection a little bit better,” she says. “It’s not just about purchasing the product, it’s about purchasing the story, or at least supporting the story that’s behind it.”

The International Moveable Feast begins at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3, at Ten Thousand Villages, 10 College St. Tickets are $45 and are available at avl.mx/44b.

Acornucopia Project tasting party

Villagers will partner with the Nutty Buddy Collective on Friday, Sept. 29, to help launch the Acornucopia Project with a tasting party. According to the event’s Facebook page, the gathering is part of a series of parties celebrating the kickoff of the project, which includes “a decentralized network of nut trees, foragers and foodies harvesting the neglected abundance of [the region’s] native trees.” Participants can sample a variety of foraged nuts and learn best practices for gathering these natural goods. Market values and uses will also be discussed and harvesting tools will be for sale.

Acornucopia Tasting Party with the Nutty Buddy Collective runs 6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, at Villagers, 278 Haywood Road. Admission is free, but RSVPs are required. Donations will be accepted at the event. To RSVP, visit avl.mx/44c.

Homegrown Babies Sweet Potato Cooking Contest

The eighth annual Homegrown Babies Sweet Potato Cooking Contest will be held Saturday, Sept. 30, to benefit Sistas Caring 4 Sistas — Doulas for Social Justice, a program that trains and mentors African American women to become birth doulas. The collaborative effort between Homegrown Babies Asheville Childbirth Education and Doula Services and the Buncombe Upstream Community Centered Health Home has worked with women leaders in the Pisgah View and Hillcrest public housing communities to lower the mortality rate for black infants in Buncombe County. The fundraising event will also feature live music, kids’ activities, food and prizes.

The event runs 4-8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30 at Homegrown Babies: Asheville Childbirth Education & Doula Services, 201 Charlotte St. There is no fee to enter a dish, but there is a $10 per person tasking/judging/voting fee. For contest details, visit avl.mx/452

U.S. Cellular Center offers new menu

One of Asheville’s largest event venues, U.S. Cellular Center, recently announced it will no longer serve prewrapped items on its menu. Instead, all food options will be “served straight from the grill or roller-grill,” according to a press release from the venue. New menu items include the Hickory Nut Gap local dog, marinated portobello sandwich, smokehouse burger, garlic fries, beer cheese for pretzels, churros, North Carolina pulled pork barbecue and an upgraded chip and candy selection. The new beverage menu features expanded wine and liquor options, a 24-ounce draft beer and local cider. Additionally, Thomas Wolfe Auditorium will begin a composting program this fall. Specific bins will be marked for compostable items.

For details, visit USCellularCenterAsheville.com.

UNCA gains Green Restaurant, Fair Trade status

UNC Asheville’s Brown Dining Hall has achieved 3 Star Certified Green Restaurant status with the Green Restaurant Association. This designation places the dining hall in the same company as Cúrate, French Broad Chocolates, Green Sage Café and Corner Kitchen. Along with the new certification, the university has also become the first higher-education facility in the state to be designated as a Fair Trade University by Fair Trade Campaigns.

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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He has worked with several publications, including Gulf Coast and the Collagist. For his weekly #tuesdayhistory tidbits on Asheville, follow him on Instagram @tcalder.

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