What does LOCAL really mean?

One definition of LOCAL is something nearby or in the immediate area.  It seems like LOCAL is the new buzz word especially in the food and beverage business. Even Google uses LOCAL to help you find places.

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Lexington Visitor Center held a “Farm To Table” event in January called Love At First Bite.  Farm to table means restaurants, schools or B&B’s buy directly from the producers.  The event’s purpose was to connect restaurateurs, schools & innkeepers with those who produce or grow local food, food products, wines, and beers. “Local” educators provided sessions on food safety & regulations and organic vs local (Virginia Tech), and insurance and liability (Virginia Farm Bureau).  The best part of the event was the networking session where I met many “local” growers and producers.

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In our session, “local” was defined as shortening the chain of supply between the producer and the consumer.  I also learned that the 2008 Farm Act defined “local” as the end-point purchase is within 400 miles from its origin. People in the room were stunned to hear such distance associated with the word “local”.  And so was I.  We also learned that using local and knowing your farmer is more important in our area and as well as in the South than using certified organic products.

Since moving here 3 years ago, I have discovered this little piece of heaven where there is so much “local” around me.  I am still finding these wonders that surround me so I try to use local products whenever I can.

Our sausages & cheese come from Mountain View Farms. We purchase some of our flour mixes (muffins, pancakes, spoon bread, and beer bread) from Wades Mill.  Our bacon is from Buffalo Creek Farm as well as the steak in the Grill Your Own Steak package.  Honey is found at a small farm, Henderson’s, which is down the road from us. This year we will be purchasing eggs from Henderson’s.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are purchased from Henderson’s and at the Lexington farmers market in season.

And, of course, at our evening Social Hour we serve local wines from Rockbridge Vineyards, Barren Ridge Vineyards, and Lovingston.  Devils Backbone, Blue Lab, Starr Hill, and 3 Brothers are the local microbrews we have on hand.  And also Hard Cider from Bold Rock Cidery.

I will soon be using all local products in our Celebration Package:  Rockbridge Vineyards wine, Simply Cheddar Cheese Ball from Waynesboro, and new to be added is the chocolates from The Cocoa Mill in Lexington.  It was nice to meet Laura, co-owner of the Cocoa Mill, at the event where she introduced me to her fine chocolates.

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And since “local” is defined as 400 miles between producer and consumer, the cinnamon swirl bread used in our French toast is from our “local” bakery in Pittsburgh, PA!

There are a few more folks that I connected with at the Love at First Bite Event so stay tuned to hear more “local” products to be added at Steeles Tavern Manor & Alpine Hideaway Cottages.

Stay & enjoy Local!

Melissa, Ray & Bacchus

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