11Alive's Julie Wolfe is blogging about her participation in the West Georgia Locavore Challenge through the month of July. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @JulieWolfe.
ATLANTA-- For three weeks, I've been participating in the Locavore Challenge. A few hundred other metro Atlantans signed on to eat 90% local food. I've approached it as an interesting social experiment and a way to explore issues about food, health, environment, and economy.
Thanks to the flood of tweets and e-mails, I've scouted some of the city's best local food providers and farmers markets. Three weeks in, I love the Locavore approach because it's filled with surprises. When you're only eating local, you never know what you're going to get. It's the biggest challenge and also the most fun.
Last week, nestled between the corn and peas, there was a mystery melon in my CSA (community supported agriculture) box. Because CSAs take from a group of farmers and deliver boxes to customers all over metro Atlanta, there is variety from box to box. Instead of detailing exactly what kind of beans or peaches or lettuce you'll get, the list includes a basic description for every box. It's the most amazing melon I've ever eaten and I don't know if I'll ever find it again!
I included a picture, so if you know what it is, feel free to email or tweet me! The flesh looks like a honeydew melon, but it's sweeter with a completely different flavor. Over the last few years, I've picked out so many terrible melons at grocery stores; I stopped buying them all together. Maybe there's a secret way to knock, shake, or smell to make sure you get a good one. But I never picked up the talent. The mystery melon lured me back to the challenge.
Sunday, I was buying the ingredients for homemade salsa at the Grant Park Farmers market. After grabbing some jalapenos, another pepper grabbed my attention. "Are these hot too, I asked?" "You never know with those longer ones, sometimes they're not hot at all and sometimes they knock your socks off." So, of course, I took one, and it was awesome. The bright orange pepper had only a few seeds and a subtle hot flavor that turned to a burn.
I've learned if I see something in season that looks great, grab it now because it might be impossible to find next week (has anyone seen lettuce since the heat wave started?). There's something about the carpe diem philosophy of being a Locavore that's growing on me.
Here's my recipe for local salsa:
2 Large tomatoes
1 other hot pepper (there are so many local options)
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 ears of corn, cooked, and cut from cob
Large bunch of cilantro
Salt (generously) and pepper to taste
(juice of one lime optional, but I haven't found one local, so I'm leaving it out these days)
Chop up tomatoes first, sprinkle with salt and set aside
Chop of rest of vegetables and mix everything together
I use this to top fish, salads, and chips. Enjoy!