If you've had your head stuck in the bottom of a bowl of massaman, as I am wont to do on occasion, and have thus far missed out on the burgeoning locavore movement in town, here's a quick catch-up.
Locavore [low-kah-voor]: one who endeavors to consume food that has been produced in close proximity to the place where it is to be consumed. The term "close proximity" varies depending on one's definition, though it's common to draw an imaginary 100-mile circle around one's house and declare that as local. In places where the northernmost part of the state isn't a day's drive away, it's also common to define local as anything grown in-state. For Boise locavores, however, throwing aside an onion from Ontario in favor of a steak from Sandpoint doesn't make much sense from a mileage perspective.
In the last year, a number of locavore groups have sprung up casually among friends, and I'd suspect that with the undeniable popularity of films like Food, Inc., many more people are thinking seriously about where their food comes from and considering changes.
Whether you're new to the idea of eating locally, completely committed to it or just curious about what it means, area farmers markets are the easiest places to start making changes; however, they're not the only option. Pay attention in grocery stores and you'll find fruits and vegetables grown on a farm near you. And we're just starting to see some options that I'd consider "beyond the market." This weekend, for example, Thunder Mountain Line and Idaho Preferred have teamed up for the Locavore Express. The ride follows the Thunder Mountain rails up to Banks, where dinner will be a gourmet meal of all-Idaho food, paired with, of course, all-Idaho wine.
The trip marks the start of Idaho Preferred Month, which runs through September, highlighting the variety of food grown and raised in Idaho. And whether you want my opinion or not, I'm going to give it to you: Paying attention to Idaho Preferred Month is one of the best things you can do as a foodie each year. Know who your local farmers and producers are and support them year round. Why? Consider this: Idaho consumes 16 million pounds of carrots each year, and 99 percent of them are trucked in at the cost of $3.5 million. Some estimate that it would take only 632 acres, or less than one square mile, to grow all of the carrots Idaho consumes annually. Eating closer to home not only means supporting your neighbors, but also indirectly reducing your carbon footprint.
Thunder Mountain Line's Locavore Express leaves the Horseshoe Bend station Sunday, Aug. 30, at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $20-$30, and BW Card members have access to Thunder Mountain Line tickets at a discounted rate (contact BW Office Manager Shea Sutton for details at 208-344-2055). For further details on the ride or to purchase tickets, call 877-IDA-RAIL or visit thundermountainline.com. For more information on Idaho Preferred Month, visit idahopreferred.com.
*Editor's Note: Locavore Express has sold out.
Up and Coming
Speaking of eating locally ... here's a chance to see what the buzz over local food is all about while letting someone else do the cooking. The annual City Harvest Celebration is Saturday, Sept. 5, featuring a potluck-style dinner of locally grown food from restaurants that are members of Think Boise First. Ticket holders get dinner, but the non-ticket holders can stop in for a glass of Idaho wine or beer while the silent auction and free concerts entertain. Tickets are $10 for children 12 and younger and $20 for adults. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit sccidaho.org.
As promised, news of Smashburger: Not half bad at all. Flavorful meat, thick pickles, fresh produce, herbed fries. Now open at 3223 E. Louise Dr. in Meridian.