As part of my research to identify who is working on local food systems in Alabama I had the great fortune of discovering a local foods event in Huntsville, Alabama a few days ahead of time–I usually find out about these types of events the day after or five minutes before. Fortunately, for me, the North Alabama Food Bank has a great local foods initiative underway and lots of information on its website.
I drove up to Huntsville and had a fun time getting acquainted with several of the folks doing food systems work in the Huntsville and North Alabama region. The turnout was great and so was the food.
I arrived at the Church of the Nativity in downtown Huntsville about an hour before the food tasting was scheduled to get underway, so I spent a bit of time walking around the historic district, which I hadn’t visited in at least 15 years.
The Church of the Nativity hosts the Greene Street Market farmers market on Thursdays.
The Local Foods Tasting was organized by the North Alabama Food Policy Council Steering Committee to raise money for the Healthy Foods Initiative, an initiative of the Greene Street Market, the Food Bank of North Alabama, the Huntsville Housing Authority, and the North Alabama Food Policy Steering Committee.
Near the end of the first hour, Kathryn Strickland, director of community food security for the North Alabama Food Bank, gave a brief overview of the challenges in our current food system and mentioned some of the ways the North Alabama Food Bank is working to improve local food choices available through the Food Bank, for economic AND health reasons.
One event that triggered the North Alabama Food Bank’s move to locally-source more foods was the discovery that a large order of canned peas—purchased based on price—turned out to be sourced in China. Why can’t Americans feed Americans healthy food at an affordable price? That’s what food system change is all about. The goal is community self-reliance.
I don’t have a complete list of the farms and food producers who supplied the veggies, fruits, produce and other ingredients but I did run across the list of farms supplying ingredients that went into one dish, a zucchini au gratin:
- Dennison’s Family Farm: Elora, Tennessee
- Eat Wright Farm: Fayetteville, Tennessee
- Whirlwind Farms: Geraldine, Alabama
- Martling Mountain Farm
- Working Cows Dairy: Slocomb, Alabama
- 4 Maz Moonshine Dairy: New Market, Alabama
- Happy Hen Farm (provided the butter): Blountsville, Alabama