11Alive's Julie Wolfe is blogging about her participation in the Locavore Challenge through the month of July. The goal is to eat 90 percent of food from local sources.
VIDEO | Watch the original Locavore story
ATLANTA -- The Locavore Challenge started on Sunday, July 1, but I started a day late for a simple reasons: s'mores. I spent the weekend camping and hiking at Black Rock Mountain State Park in north Georgia. I couldn't possibly have a campfire without roasting marshmallows and squishing them between graham crackers with melting chocolate. (See, you want one right now, don't you?)
It turns out, I found the perfect place to start eating 90 percent local food.
Just north of Black Rock sits Osage Farms. It's more than a roadside stand, less than a brick-and-mortar farmer's market. They carried some of the best produce I've seen. About 60 percent of their produce was from their own farm. Other food was from local farms, North Carolina and Florida. Everything was clearly labeled, so it was easy to see what came from where. My favorite find was a heavy, perfectly-shaped cabbage ($1.50), local honey ($3.50) and green beans that may have ruined me for store-bought ($0.78 for two fistfuls).
As I lugged three bags of produce to the car, I saw workers picking produce in the farm just 200 yards from where they would sell it.
"This is awesome," I thought. "I can do this."
Then I went back to the city.
There are two huge issues with buying local in stores (even stores with "healthy" marketing):
It's difficult to tell WHERE food comes from. Carroll County farmer Paul Feather, one of the Locavore Challenge organizers, told me this would be an issue.
"Take peanut butter, for example," he said. "They probably are from Georgia -- most peanuts are. But they ship them to California where they are processed, then ship them back here."
Labels tell you where food is processed, but not where they get their ingredients. Even most produce is marked by country. It had me shuffling from fruit to fruit, squinting at the little stickers, searching for information like a produce Sherlock Holmes. Whole Foods seems to do the best job of local and regional labeling.
Even if it's well-labeled, there's not very much of it. On Monday, I visited four stores. One was closed (I've heard great things about it, so I'm sure it'll enter into a future blog), two others had almost nothing local, and I had moderate success at another. I'm hoping once I find the secret spots, this will get easier.
If you know of any good local food spots in the City of Atlanta, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on Twitter @JulieWolfe.