Thursday, December 1, 2022

Farms, fisheries and breweries: Feast Down East introduces the Cape Fear Food Council

The group dedicated to connecting growers to consumers through local businesses now plans to advocate for local and state-wide policies that support the local food industry.

 

Supporting the use of local produce - along with fish, meat and poultry - is a major concern of the Cape Fear Food Council. (Port City Daily photo | COURTESY CAPE FEAR FOOD COUNCIL)
Supporting the use of local produce – along with fish, meat, and poultry – is a major concern of the Cape Fear Food Council. (Port City Daily photo | COURTESY CAPE FEAR FOOD COUNCIL)

WILMINGTON – This year’s Local Food Conference, presented by Feast Down East, will again bring together local farmers, fishermen, chefs and – of course – brewers. But the event will feature something new this year: the introduction of the Cape Fear Food Council.

The eighth annual event will bring together “all those who are involved in supporting and growing the local food movement of southeastern North Carolina,” according to Executive Director Sarah Daniels. This year the conference will include the Cape Fear Food Council (CFFC), which brings together over 30 non-profits, small businesses and government organizations in the Wilmington area, with the goal of advocating for local and state-wide policies that support the local food industry.

The Cape Fear Food Council focuses on four specific aspects of the local food network. (Port City Daily photo | COURTESY CAPE FEAR FOOD COUNCIL)
The Cape Fear Food Council focuses on four specific aspects of the local food network. (Port City Daily photo | COURTESY CAPE FEAR FOOD COUNCIL)

CFFC focuses on four main areas: production and processing (i.e. farming, fishing, brewing, etc.), distribution, consumer access, and waste reduction and resource recovery. Each of council’s four committees holds monthly meetings that are open to the public.

According to Daniels, who serves as the chairwoman for the Distribution Committee, CFCC grew out of land-use discussions during the production of New Hanover County’s 2016 comprehensive plan. Its focus is on preserving “already limited local farmland.”

Like Feast Down East, Cape Fear Food Council is also concerned with facilitating logistics – in other words, with connecting the people growing, fishing, farming and brewing to the people running restaurants and their customers.

Those efforts have been an instrumental part of the success stories of several Wilmington restaurants, including downtown newcomer Savorez — voted the best new restaurant in North Carolina by Yelp. They’ve also helped restaurateurs who are new to the area tap into what Wilmington has to offer, like Micah Edelstein, the former Top Chef behind Rolled and Baked, which is opening soon on Castle Street.

CFFC is also concerned with social issues, like access to fresh local food — not just for restaurants and customers, but residents and general.

“The important role that the Cape Fear Food Council serves is to bring together everyone involved in the local food movement, providing a space for collaboration and a unified voice. We care about having viable farm and food businesses, improving public health, combatting food insecurity, reducing waste, and numerous other social and economic issues. Looking at the local food system as a whole, the food council works to address these issues simultaneously by combining our resources and elevating our common cause,” Daniels said.

For those interested in learning more about CFFC, this year’s Local Food Conference will have four breakout sessions, each dedicated to one of council’s main areas of outreach.

Guests of the conference can taste the fruit of the Food Council's labors (literally). This year's event features locally-sourced breakfast and lunch. (Port City Daily photo | CAPE FEAR FOOD COUNCIL)
Guests of the conference can taste the fruit of the Food Council’s labors (literally). This year’s event features locally-sourced breakfast and lunch. (Port City Daily photo | CAPE FEAR FOOD COUNCIL)

The conference is also a chance to taste the benefits of the local food system, with lunch provided by the UNCW Campus Dining chefs –– a culinary team that has won recognition for its involvement with area farms and fisheries.

There will also be samples of beer from Wilmington-area breweries.

The eighth annual Local Food Conference will be held on Friday, Feb. 16, from 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the UNCW Burney Center. Tickets are available online — $20 for farmers (and other local food producers) as well as for students, $35 for the general public. More information is available on the food conference’s website. Menus for the event’s breakfast and lunch will be posted to the Local Food Conference Facebook page later this week.

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