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11Alive's Julie Wolfe blogs about the Locavore Challenge and her efforts to eat 90% local food through the month of July.
The biggest challenge in eating local hasn't been finding local food, but finding it all in one place.
Local eaters in metro Atlanta have been tweeting me since the beginning of July the secret to their success: farmers markets. This weekend I hit up two: Morningside and Grant Park.
I'd been to farmers markets before entering the Locavore Challenge. But this time, instead of picking up a few nice extras, I needed serious food. And I had serious questions.
I arrived at the Morningside Famers Market on North Highland around 10:30 a.m. The parking in the area gives me flashbacks of holiday shopping at the mall, but after stalking a woman with a bag full of veggies, I got lucky. Three hours after opening, some cuts of meat and bread varieties were already sold out. I bought bacon from Little Red Hen Farm and a steak the size of my head from Riverview Farms. In the past, I've found food at farmers markets that isn't really local or organic, so I questioned them both about their meat. Little Red Hen had pictures of their free range pigs, which I took home in the form of a pound of bacon. I grilled the poor guy from Magnolia Bread Company on where he obtained his ingredients, and bought a few veggies from several of the vendors.
On Sunday I went to the Grant Park Farmers Market with a mission: yogurt. I don't eat very much meat, so I'm a huge fan of getting protein from Greek style yogurt. AtlantaFresh creamery makes a great local version, but I was having trouble finding a big container (economies of size) of the nonfat version. I asked them via Twitter about their weekend farmers market schedule, and they pointed me to Grant Park. About one third of the vendors Sunday morning were selling "eat now" local: doughnuts, wraps, hot dogs, and sandwiches. Families picnicked to the sound of a bluegrass band. I found Atlanta Fresh creamery and Farm Mobile (another Twitter suggestion), where I bought a dozen eggs.
I learned you should shop farmers markets the same way you shop grocery stores: compare prices. No matter how local and fresh, I'm just not willing to pay $9 for a dozen eggs. There are good deals; you just have to find them.