Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Buying Local

"Buy local" (food) is the new mantra. And for many good reasons.

Whole Foods' website lists the following benefits to buying local produce:
  1. Supporting local farm production puts a "face" behind the foods we consume and keeps us connected to the seasons, as well as the unique flavor and diversity of local crops.
  2. Buying produce from local growers reduces the environmental impact and costs of transporting product.
  3. Small local farms are a valuable component of a community's character, helping maintain agricultural heritage, preserve land use diversity, and moderate development.
  4. Many farmers producing for a local market choose to diversify, growing a variety of crops instead of just one. This is a boon for biodiversity and your palate, since local crops are harvested at their peak of freshness and flavor.
  5. Minimizing handling and transportation costs gives farmers maximum return on their investment. And most of the money spent on local production stays in the community, "greening up" the local economy.
However, farm-fresh fruit and vegetables are not the only local product available at Whole Foods.

From cheese to nut butter, granola to chocolate, this week I'm going to explore a handful of these local vendors and discuss why their product is (or not) worth buying over competitive product shipped in from outside the Rocky Mountain region.

You may recall from my last post that my Sweetmeat Platter contained chunks of Chocolove Chocolate manufactured right here in Colorado.

The chocolate is actually from Belgian, and for his Chocolatour,Vintage Line the cocoa beans are sourced globally. But Timothy Moley's factory, where he fashions the imported Belgian chocolate into his selection of milk, dark, organic dark and vintage bars, is in Boulder.

I enjoy Chocolove bars because of the smooth richness of Belgian chocolate, and I also love the simplicity and also the strength of Timothy's flavors: Orange Peel in 55% dark, Crystallized Ginger in 65% dark, Hazelnuts in 33% milk and so on.

When I say "strength" I mean you can taste the orange, the ginger, the hazelnuts within the varying cocoa percentage, and thankfully, there is just the right amount of sugar --not too much, not too little--to enhance the flavor of each bar rather than overwhelm it with sweetness.

I'm actually not a big fan of really dark chocolate whereas Timothy Moley is a connoisseur. Perhaps my aversion is in part due to scoffing my mother's less-than-quality dark, cooking chocolate when I was kid. I hated it then, but egged on by my sister, we ate it anyway and I've never had the palate for it since.

However, Timothy thinks of his line of dark, vintage bars in the same way a Sommelier thinks of wine -- that is, in terms of the terroir or the geography out of which the grape grew, or in this case, the agricultural site and its characteristics out of which the cocoa tree grew.

I know he knows what he's doing, tasting, creating --the man obviously intimately understands cocoa flavor in its varying strength because his 2004 and 2005 line of vintage bars sold out!

Obviously his vintage bar fans appreciate his sophisticated palate too.

If you live in Boulder, do buy and try Mr. Chocolove's bars, after all, they're locally made and they're rich and deliciously smooth. Priced at under $3 for just over 3 ounces, Chocolove Chocolate is also very reasonable -- compared to other gourmet, imported and American-made chocolate bars.

And the real surprise: a beautiful love poem on the inside of every colorful, tastefully designed wrapper!


Lily Amberg said...

I couldn't agree more! I recently bought a bunch of locally grown peaches. I always thought of the best peaches coming from Georgia, however these peaches that were grown locally were just delectable!

Louise Ross said...

Colorado peaches are delicious, Lily, I'm glad you've discovered them. I bought a couple earlier this week and to be honest, I was a bit disappointed with their slightly floury texture, however, I stewed them lightly and voila, they were yummy, particularly with a little cream :)