Food Bloggers Tea: New This Year

I'm a bit late to the posting party, but still wanted to mention the lovely afternoon tea that Christine hosted for "local" food bloggers (as opposed to "local food" bloggers) in January.  This was the first event I've attended as a blogger and probably also the first event I've been to where people mostly know each other online rather than in person.  It's a funny (and warm) feeling to finally see the face and be in the corporeal presence of someone you've previously known only from the words on your computer screen. 


I've read about blogger events and of course follow some of the fancy-pants food bloggers who regularly jet off to exotic locales having arranged meet-ups with their fans. Chez Pim and Chocolate and Zucchini come to mind.  So I was a bit nervous to be knocking on the door of this esoteric world. Would it be inhabited by Prada-wearing food and fashionistas or other sensible footwear food nerds like me?


It's probably not a surprise that I noticed nary a Manolo (not to say that these women were anything but á la minute). The other attendees were as lovely in person as they are online - only better because we also had fabulous edibles to enjoy together.  Warda of 64 sq. ft. kitchen, Christine of Holy Basil, Shayne of Fruitcake or Nuts, and "Mom" from Mother's Kitchen have all written about the lovely things we ate. I brought the humble scones and jam. 


In addition to feeling lucky to have beautiful and thoughtfully made food, what struck me about the tea party was how, even only a year ago, this event might not have been possible. There were only a couple of people doing this food blogging (aside: however uncomfortable the words "food blogger" make me the shoe fits, so I'm wearing it) thing in our area.  There are more than a dozen that I know of now.  


It also seems like a recent phenomenon to be able to find a significant number of ways in this community to connect around food. Perhaps it's a case of seeing things that were already there by having a new openness to those possibilities.  But that cannot be all it is - I think there's something new here.  Consider for a moment what's new this year:

- The now venerable 5-year old Slow Food Huron Valley events and the new SFHV Book Club, 

- Project Grow is now selling its own heirloom seeds from its Heirloom Project at the Co-op, 

- Growing Hope was able to buy a new property for their new Growing Hope Center, 

- Victoria Bennett (bennettv@gmail.com) has created a Local Food Workgroup and the 

- The Unitarian Congregation also has a Local Food group, 

- Erika Block is working on a food delivery and information portal start-up called Local Orb.it

- Several organizations (including Think Local First and the Ecology Center) are working together on the first annual HomeGrown Festival celebrating local food and farms on September 13, 2008, 

- FSEP's Farm-to-School pilot is in its evaluation phase and looking toward expansion to additional schools, 

- The Ecology Center has a "Healthcare Without Harm" grant looking at how to get local food into hospitals and other institutional settings, 

- The Culinary Historian of Ann Arbor have their 2008 event schedule online,

- A couple of new CSA farms (Beautiful Earth and Our Family Farm) are starting this year and there's talk of new local food distributors starting up,  

- Jeff (panchobush@gmail.com) and Lisa are hosting "Repasts, Present and Future" - fundraising meals in their home,

- The Ann Arbor Farmer's Market renovation starts this spring,

- And a new group is working on making the Thursday Westside Farmer's Market take off (next meeting Feb. 18th at 7:30am at the Zingerman's Roadhouse).

- If you've read this far, you'll certainly want to attend the Slow Food panel discussion at the downtown Library:  "From the Farm to Your Fork" on February 18th at 7:00pm with farmers Annie Elder and Paul Bantle, chef Alex Young, Farm-to-school coordinator Ruth Blackburn, and research scientist Catherine Badgley.


There is something new in the community here.  I think people might care about restoring this beautiful state where we live and find that the basic and powerful role that food plays in our lives can be a way to that goal.   Christine says she wanted to do the food bloggers tea because "I thought we all have a unique connection in that we are passionate about food and *getting the word out* about why we are."  Perhaps I have a one-track mind, but isn't community what a food blogger's tea represents?  At some level, "local" food bloggers are also "local food" bloggers.


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