Fresh & Local
Column #29, Published April 6th, 2012
There is currently a food revolution going on. Locally grown food is making permanent inroads into the food we eat, and the way we think about food.
In previous columns, I have written about all the different distribution channels for locally grown food. The emergence of wholesalers and retailers is a particularly important development specifically because these are not seasonal or weekend-only businesses.
Culpeper has another locally grown food retailer. Native Harvest opened back in February in the Duke Street Shopping Center. The owners, Gregg and Erin Hoffman and their partner Chad Perkey, wanted to start a six-day-a-week farmers’ market.
I asked Gregg how the idea for the store came about. “I started out visiting local farms looking for natural foods for our family. At first I was looking for a full or half a steer. After a while, I realized that there was no central hub for local, sustainable food.”
Native Harvest has several refrigerated cases stocked full of local meats. There is beef from Fauquier’s Finest Country Butcher in Bealeton. They have all grass fed lamb and beef from Lakota Ranch in Remington. There is heritage-breed pork - including bacon, chops and spare ribs - from Pleasant Hill Farm in Rixeyville. And they have chickens and eggs from Rocky Knoll Homestead in Rixeyville.
Native Harvest’s milk and dairy products come from Trickling Springs Creamery in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Trickling Springs only processes milk from organic dairies, and they use low-temperature pasteurization.
How does Native Harvest define the word “local?” Many people consider “local” to mean within 75 – 100 miles. Gregg agrees with that definition in general, but there are cases where “local” means “regional.” For instance, Native harvest is currently considering carrying seafood from Delmarva. There is not a local seafood option using the 100-mile definition.
Gregg tells me that it is very common for people to have food allergies, so Native Harvest carries foods specifically for them. I have heard of people being allergic to peanuts, but gluten allergies are also common. Gluten is a protein found in wheat. Allergic reactions can run from intolerance to full-blown allergic reactions. A full-blown allergic reaction to gluten is called Celiac disease. Native Harvest carries both gluten-free and corn-free products.
Native Harvest also carries honey from Amissville Bees.
There are some unusual products on the shelves. Native Harvest carries a line of products from Farmstead Ferments in Charlottesville. Sauerkraut I know and like. Kimchi I am familiar with. But Farmstead Ferments makes something called kombucha, which is a fermented tea.
During our discussions, Gregg used the phrase “beyond organic.” I was unfamiliar with the phrase, so I asked him to explain it. There are people who are unhappy with the U.S.D.A. certification of organic farms. Some of the discontent is unhappiness with the bureaucracy of a large government agency, but some people feel that the organic certification has too many loopholes. Some people are adhering to standards that they consider stricter. They are also moving away from the term “organic,” and using the term “natural.”
Native Harvest will special-order products. Do you want 20 lbs. of pistachios? They can order it.
Gregg laughs about their grand opening in February. Four hundred people showed up, and they ran out of almost everything. “We had to tell people, ‘Come back and we will have more stuff!’ ”
The emergence of retailers is more evidence that locally grown food is here to stay.
Bryant Osborn and his wife Terry own Corvallis Farms in Culpeper County. His column on fresh and locally grown food runs every Friday. He can be reached at email@example.com