One reason we love living in Charlottesville, Virginia, is the wonderful local food movement in this region. Many readers will recognize our neighbor over the mountain, Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, the most famous farmer in America. Michael Pollan featured him in his splendid The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and he has since been chronicled in the feature documentary Food, Inc. Not many localities can boast that the local Chipotle serves pork straight from Polyface (though I recently read that Mr. Salatin is in the process of adding a second Chipotle location in the DC area).
But Charlottesville is a locavore’s town, and the local food movement in this area is much bigger than Polyface. The Charlottesville Farmer’s market is a Saturday morning standby for many, and has given birth to I believe three additional farmer’s markets in the area throughout the week. There are lots of local producers, many of which are organic or biodynamic or similar, and many of which offer CSA’s (community-supported agriculture, an arrangement in which the consumer purchases a share of the CSA in the early spring in exchange for a weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables, and sometimes eggs, meat, or even flowers). Many restaurants here feature local food, and there is even a local food hub, to help connect farmers, restaurants, and consumers.
Probably my favorite local food perk is an annual event called Meet Yer Eats, organized by Market Central, the same non-profit organization that organizes the farmer’s market. On Labor Day each year, about 20 area farms open their doors for tours and farm activities, all for the price of one very reasonably-priced ticket. My family tried it last year for the first time. We had such a great time, we intend to make it an annual event as long as we are in this area.