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'Locavore' movement lands in North Georgia
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Fresh okra and tomatoes sit in baskets Tuesday at the Hall County Farmers Market. The ‘locavore’ movement uses the freshest food. - photo by Tom Reed

Eating meals that come straight from a local farm is not only good for you and beneficial to area farmers, it also can be a way to leave a smaller carbon footprint.
As far as eco-consciousness goes, eating locally, also called being a "locavore," is a new movement that we even are seeing in Georgia.

The Vines, European cuisine, in Sautee recently began offering their new farm-to-table menu in the restaurant, and chef Jason Vullo said it's just a more holistic approach to cooking.

"I try to do a whole-foods approach to my cooking," said the self taught chef. "Even if it's something simple like collard greens, and you don't just use the green and throw away the stem."

Vullo added that he tries to use each part of the fish that he gets in the eatery.

"We don't just filet a fish and discard the rest, we can make a stock from it; we can make a soup," he said. It's about "being able to utilize every portion in every possible way and not only minimize waste, but to honor the animal or honor the food. It's holistic; it makes the food taste better, and I really feel it's better for you."

The "locavore" movement started in San Francisco when a group of people wanted to eat foods grown within a 100-mile radius of the city for a month. It was an experiment to see how beneficial this change would be to their health and the environment, according to locavore.com.

Vullo said this philosophy does work and helps bring in bold flavors to the kitchen.

"When you have great ingredients that haven't traveled from across the country - where they are losing their nutritional value and flavor - you don't have to do so much with it to make a wonderful tasting product," he said.

The Vines get most of their local produce from Loganberry Heritage Farm, which is about 10 minutes away from the restaurant.

"It's all organic, they take a completely holistic approach," Vullo said. "They treat the soil, not the plant, and their first step is the earth has to be well ... good and fertile to be able to produce a plant." Vullo said one of the farm's beliefs is "when you have lots of pests and you have needs for a lot of fertilizer, then the earth is trying to tell you something."

David White, director of the Hall County Farmer's Market and owner of It Began With a Seed Farm in Lula, said the idea of being a locavore isn't a new way to live.

"Back before they had trucks, you couldn't bring lettuce on a wagon to Georgia," he said. "So you had to grow what you wanted to eat locally. So eating locally is not a new thing; it's a thing that always been."

Buying from local farmers or farmer's market is a way to sustain and support your neighbor, White added.

"If you support a farmer that lives 10 miles away from you and he makes himself available in a local farmer's market, he's got a whole lot less cost," he said. "If you buy anything other than local produce from a local farmer, you aren't really buying from the farmer, you are buying from the farmer to the distributor to a wholesaler to a retailer. The benefits of eating locally - it just makes good sense."


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