By Karen Bremer, Executive Director of the Georgia Restaurant Association
In the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) “What’s Hot in 2014 Culinary Forecast,” locally grown produce was ranked as the No. 2 trend by chefs. As the demand from consumers about the source of their food continues to grow, restaurants are turning to their local farms to incorporate locally grown produce into their menus.
In late 2013, Taste of Atlanta, the Southeast’s premier food festival, and the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA), the voice for Georgia’s restaurants in Advocacy, Education and Awareness, were awarded a grant from the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown program to create dining events across the state that feature the best local, seasonal produce prepared by many of Georgia’s best chefs. Through the partnership, and with the aid of the grant, EAT GA, a statewide dining program, was created.
Joining in to support the efforts of Taste of Atlanta and the GRA are Georgia Organics and Locurean. Georgia Organics is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable agriculture practices as well as locally owned farms in Georgia. Locurean is a soon-to-be-launched web and mobile application that will offer a directory of curated, location-sensitive listings of businesses and organizations dedicated to the production, use, and support of local food and drink.
The GRA is a strong supporter and advocate of locally grown produce and these tours will allow EAT GA to reach various locations throughout Georgia to highlight the numerous farms and delicious produce that Georgia has to offer. From winter greens to summer tomatoes, peaches, peanuts and more, diners should expect to gain a tasty education about local farms and Georgia Grown produce.
Additionally, the GRA encourages all Georgia restaurateurs and chefs to buy local produce for their restaurants, not only to help support Georgia’s overall economy, but to keep themselves competitive in the market, since the demand for fresh and local continues to increase. Buying local also ensures that your customers get the best food that is available for that season and allows chefs to get creative with their dishes.
EAT GA kicked-off in Jekyll Island at the Georgia Organics Farmers Feast at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel on Saturday, February 22, 2014. Events have also taken place at Table & Main in Roswell, in conjunction with the Atlanta Community Food Bank’s Supper Club, on March 11, 2014, at the Atlanta Food Truck Park on April 24, 2014 and at Liam’s in Thomasville on April 29, 2014. The next dinner will be held on May 6, 2014 at Soho South Cafe in Savannah. Events are also planned for May 13, 2014 at St. Cecilia in Buckhead, May 18, 2014 at Heirloom Cafe in Athens, and for Augusta in July and St. Simons Island on October 4, 2014. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from each event will be donated to the community food bank in that area.
For more information on EAT GA and to join us for dinner at a location near you, visit EATGA.com or follow EAT GA on social media by visiting www.facebook.com/EATGA and twitter.com/EATGA.