By Sam Boykin
When musician Jack Johnson rolls into town Sunday for his concert at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, he’ll be urging his fans to support family farmers and to eat locally grown food. While a lofty goal that would benefit the Charlotte metro area’s economy and health, it’s also easier said than done.
Today, when many folks are strapped for cash and time, it can be tempting to swing into the nearest fast-food drive-in and get dinner for a couple of bucks. But there are a growing number of Charlotte restaurants, farmers markets and organizations trying to make eating healthier easier — although some lament that at times it can be cost-prohibitive to put local items on their menu.
“Unfortunately, I can’t find a lot of local meat products that I can affordably put on my menu,” said Bruce Moffett, owner and chef of Barrington’s restaurant. Moffett uses fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables at the Charlotte restaurant, “but you have to walk that fine line between running a business and putting a roof over your family’s head and supporting local farmers.”
To help spread his “eat local” message during his 31-city tour, Johnson partnered with the Eat Well Guide, a New York-based nonprofit and online directory for anyone in search of fresh, locally grown and organic food in the United States. The Eat Well Guide has put together guides for dozens of U.S. cities, including Charlotte.
As with anything, the devil is in the details. While many of the locations above *do* carry locally-produced food, it takes making a conscious effort to ask about each product. Even going to farmers’ markets is not a guarantee that the food has been grown by the person selling it. So if you want to buy local, start with the list above. And when you get there, ask a lot of questions about where things are from.