Daily Dish

Farm to Philly hosts bloggers who eat locally, seasonally

by Tenaya Darlington

I may not be a locavore—the word for someone who tries to source food from within 100 miles of her home—but I am definitely a locavore voyeur. I like knowing what people are cooking within 100 miles of my house. No wonder I’ve become a fan of the group food blog Farm to Philly. Call it a peep show into local kitchens. Yesterday I ogled a squash gratin dinner, then a post on purple soup. It inspired me to SEPTA over to Reading Terminal for red cabbage and purple potatoes so I could slow-cook my own lavender stew.
Nicole Wolverton, who runs Farm to Philly out of her house in Alden, PA, wants to show people that it’s possible to eat locally and seasonally “12 months out of the year, no problem.” She launched the site in July 2007 after immersing herself in books about food politics and rethinking her own connection to local agriculture. “My grandparents were farmers, and it occurred to me that it would be nice to support the local farmers,” she says. “For being a major metro area, we really have an amazing farm community—from New Jersey to the Amish here in Pennsylvania.”
Wolverton put out a call for writers and netted a dozen bloggers committed to cooking with local ingredients. The cast of characters is diverse, from a high school English teacher who lives in Queen Village, to a West Philly “environmentalist gastronome.” Kevin Parker, the English teacher, says that joining the blog has inspired him to be a more resourceful cook. It’s also made him plan a winter pantry. “I am a big coward when it comes to preserving food. The Farm to Philly writers have convinced me that the process is not that time-consuming, labor-intensive, or, um, dangerous.”
The site provides posts on canning and making butter, along with links to local farms and markets. Have you heard about Vampire Slayer cheese? Check out Calkins Creamery. Are you curious about local, organic tofu? There’s a link to Fresh Tofu Inc. in Allentown, along with recipes. In fact, last February the bloggers took a Tofu Challenge and spent the month trying dishes, reviewing brands and photographing jiggly concoctions.
“Right now [in late January] we’re doing the cabbage-kale challenge,” Wolverton says, “so I’m really into lacinato kale. The leaves are thinner, and the color is a dark blackish green.” She loves to put it in soups or sauté it with butter and a little chicken stock.
By day, Wolverton works as a fundraiser for Medical Students for Choice, a reproductive health advocacy group; and by night she raises awareness about local food, blogging weekly home-cooked meals, hunting for new regional specialties and building a community around sustainable food practices. “We got together for brunch once not too long ago,” she notes, but otherwise Farm to Philly is not an eating group. The blog links one food lover to another and, like a pea vine, shoots out into the ether attracting others who want to cook and shop locally. “I get a lot of questions from people about what CSA [Community Supported Agriculture] to join,” she says, “and once a woman who was moving to the area emailed to find out where she should shop.”
In the future, Wolverton hopes farmers will use her site to post about the growing season. For now, Farm to Philly is a great resource for foragers, recipe hunters and anyone who enjoys a quick click into a nearby kitchen. Who knew that a tofu sandwich on someone else’s cutting board could look so good?