I love eating local. There are so many wonderful restaurants in the area, meeting any craving one could have.
In Sarasota, we are blessed with an abundance of eating venues that beautifully capitalize on our fresh, local produce and seafood. As a diner, there is nothing more rewarding than sitting down for a relaxing meal and finding colorful, crisp vegetables and fruits adorning your plate. To me, knowing the produce was sourced locally sets the delightful expectation for fresh, healthy proteins to follow.
One Sarasota non-profit organization, which actively promotes amazing restaurants and food processors in our area that are using natural, sustainable sources for their menu items, is Transition Sarasota. One of their initiatives is the Suncoast Gleaning Project, where local farmers are tapped to donate their excess crops, after they have been commercially harvested, to local agencies like All Faiths Food Bank, The Food Bank of Manatee, and Feeding Tampa Bay. Some of the local growers involved with the project are Jessica’s Organic Farm and Enza Zaden Research. Thousands of residents have received help from this innovative program.
The other huge event organized by Transition Sarasota begins this week. Eat Local Week 2019 runs from October 17 through November 1. This creative foodie fest celebrates the great diversity among restaurateurs, farmers, and other philanthropic groups throughout the area, invested in helping with food hunger and waste. Attracting thousands of people to the various events held over the two-week period has spotlighted Sarasota and Bradenton efforts for sustainability. The theme for this year’s event is “Exploring Food Waste.” The extravaganza will focus on food renewal, hunger, wasted resources and more through a series of workshops, food tastings, presentations, and tours of area food processing centers.
Several novel events are slated for Eat Local Week. The event kicks off with keynote speaker, Tracie Troxler, of Sunshine Community Compost, who will speak about food waste at Ringling College of Art and Design from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Since 2016, Sunshine Community Compost has diverted over 30,000 pounds of materials that would have ended up in the landfill to local fertilizer usage. Some of the other first happenings of Eat Local Week also include a tour and tasting at Siesta Key Rum on October 18th. Attendees will have an opportunity to tour the distillery, learn the basics of rum-making and sample some of Sarasota’s finest drinks from Siesta Key Rum.
No less than 20 events are scheduled for Eat Local Week and this year’s itinerary includes many groups who are promoting food sustainability while fostering community involvement. Bay Haven School of Basics Plus is one of these. On October 22, the five-year anniversary of Bay Haven School’s Food Forest will be celebrated with tours and presentations on the school’s farm to lunch table program. The Food Forest supplies a natural environment for the students to learn about the balance between animals, people and nature. And, daily, the students and staff at Bay Haven School are treated to fresh fruits and vegetables grown onsite.
An amazing lineup of events is planned for this year’s Eat Local Week. With classes on canning, foraging, composting, medicinal and edible herbs, there is something to aid everyone on their own paths to better health and wellness. The event culminates in a dinner fundraiser for Operation Eco Vets on November 2nd at Green Paths Veterans Farm at Easterseals Happiness House in Sarasota. For information and ticket pricing for all of Eat Local Week’s events, please visit their FB page.
Photos courtesy of Eat Local Week Facebook page.