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Jyl Benson and Sam Hanna
Pelicans v. Pistons
Low Cost Locavore: Getting There
One of the trickier things to ‘going local’ was not finding out where to get local goods – during the summer, there is a market almost every day of the week – but simply getting there.It’s no secret that getting around New Orleans can be challenging if you don’t have a car.
Public transit is sparse. Construction – or at least evidence that construction might be happening, sometimes – seems to be everywhere. Biking in the summertime is very, very sweaty. Plus, there are movie sets to dodge (lately, thanks to those damned dirty apes), not to mention the ubiquitous potholes.
At the start of the week, I intended to visit all of the large farmer’s markets scattered around central New Orleans. But those plans were sidetracked pretty quickly by regular afternoon thunderstorms, which means I missed out on a few markets in Mid-City and Treme (only because I couldn’t get there; they do operate rain or shine).
As we all know, if it’s not raining in the summer, then it’s hot and humid. Summertime food challenges in New Orleans….There’s nothing quite like riding roughshod on a bike over a few miles of wrecked pavement to buy some green beans. Without a car, it’s hard to forget that, during usual times, I’m extremely reliant on food sources immediately surrounding my house.
Of course, each person’s level of access to fresh, local food will depend on available transport and residential location. But nearly 20% of New Orleanian households – about double the national rate – do not own a vehicle, making grocery shopping a neighborhood affair for many.
As the map (pictured) from the USDA shows, there are large swaths of the citty that have either “low vehicle access” or are at least a half-mile from a supermarket. The darkest areas of the map show the intersection of the two. (You can access the map tool here for more data).
But there has obviously been careful thought on the part of farmer’s market organizers around locating markets in vulnerable “food desert” areas. Many of the fresh markets, like Hollygrove Market & Farm, align with the “low food access” locations in the USDA map above. However, just because the resources are there, doesn’t mean that people will snap them up.
According to Alyssa Denny, Produce Buyer & Community Coordinator at Hollygrove, the market sees few local customers.
“Honestly we don't get many customers from Hollygrove, maybe a dozen over the course of the week,” she said in an interview via email.
This is not for lack of trying – Denny and her team are currently awaiting the results of a study, performed in partnership with Tulane University, to better understand what local residents are looking for. About 40 percent of Hollygrove households earn less than $20,00 per year.
Part of the local hesitation may just be due to the novelty of the Hollygrove Market, which is located in a residential area and sells fresh produce, dairy and vegetables from several local farmers and vendors.
“It may be because it looks and feels a bit foreign, unlike normal grocery stores,” added Denny.
Timmy Perilloux, a farmer & vendor at the Crescent City Farmer’s Market also explains relatively low market attendance in a similar way.
“I think people are maybe, ‘creatures of habit’,” he said.
Or perhaps there is a much more straightforward reason: “Maybe they simply don’t have time.”
Pasta with cauliflower, sausage and eggplant
½ small red onion, sliced
½ baby leek, sliced
½ head cauliflower
¼ lb Chappapeella Farms green onion sausage, skin removed and chopped
1 large creole cooking tomato, diced
2 small ‘fairy’ eggplants, diced
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1 serving pasta
Salt & pepper
Prepare all ingredients beforehand and heat large saucepan of water on high for the pasta. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Cover bottom of pan with olive oil and add red onions and leeks, stirring often. Once onions start to turn translucent, add garlic and stir until fragrant. Add in sausage and cook until it starts to brown. Meanwhile, when pasta water is boiling, add in cauliflower and return to boil. After 1-2 minutes removed from boiling water using slotted spoon; add to pan with sausage and onions. Add eggplant to pan and add pasta to boiling water, cooking according to package instructions. Cook contents of pan for five minutes or so, until eggplant starts to become tender, adding wine or water from the boiling pot if vegetables stick to pan. Add in diced tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to simmer and let cook until vegetables are tender. Drain pasta (reserving some liquid) when done and add to pan. Add a few tablespoons of pasta water if sauce is dry. Add goat cheese and serve.
Pastrami & Goat cheese sandwich
I STRONGLY RECOMMEND using Cleaver & Co’s amazing melt-in-your-mouth beef pastrami, which you can get at their retail store as well as Hollygrove Market.
Coat six inches of po’boy bread with goat cheese on one side and Zatarain’s brown creole mustard on the other side. Heat pastrami separately and layer on bread. Add sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with salt.
RECIPE COST BREAKDOWN
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B. E. Mintz
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