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Our Expanding Food Culture

April 28, 2016

For better or for worse the Capital Region has changed a lot since I started writing the FLB. On Sunday, the blog turns seven, so I’m feeling a little bit reflective. However, today isn’t going to be about the past, but rather about the future.

My greatest desire has been the emergence of a richer food culture in the area. And part of what needs to happen for that to be a reality is that more people need to start getting involved. So whenever I have the chance to help plug new voices in this space, I’m going to do it.

This is different than the Sell Out Funday posts. Those are solicited from the business community and typically involve a press release. Today I’ve got a blog I just discovered, an emerging food book group, a pitch for culinary tourism in our own backyard, and farm fresh food in Guilderland.

Apparently Erin Nudi has been writing her blog for three years? I don’t know how I missed it. One of the things that’s really been missing in our local food scene has been consumer education. Tune in to a Food Friday on WAMC’s Vox Pop at 2 o’clock and perhaps you’ll see what I mean.

Anyway, Erin has a great regular feature called “Difference Betweeen” where she takes a couple of similar items and breaks them down. Some of this may be elementary to the food experts out there, but not everyone is a food expert. And answering people’s simple questions is important. Hopefully it encourages even further curiosity.

And more curiosity is what we need.

I’m curious if Albany Food Readers will strike a chord in our community. I’m cautiously optimistic that it will. And I love the idea that there will be a food related book club in the Capital Region. That’s fantastic. You should check out its site and Facebook page where the group is deciding upon which book to read first.

You can bet that if I had the time, I’d be all over this. But how on earth can I read when I’m writing all the time. Well, writing or eating. Or complaining about my diet. Or hosting some kind of Yelp thing. Or cooking.

There are piles of food books on the shelf just waiting for my attention. But maybe Eric will let me crash one of his book groups woefully unprepared, just so I can participate in the conversation. Of course, my calendar this summer is already absolutely dreadful. I don’t even want to think about it.

Instead, let’s think about culinary tourism.

When traveling, it’s human nature to spend more time thinking about the experience. Food often tastes better on vacation, because you are focusing on enjoying your food. If you can get yourself into the right frame of mind, you can do this at home without the airfare.

Amy is going to be doing this soon with her Taste of Troy Food Tours. For the sake of full disclosure, she did invite me to be her guest on one of her Saturday morning tours, and I’m looking forward to that a lot. But that’s not why she’s getting ink on the FLB.

This is a great idea. I wish thought of it first. Well, maybe I did, but my tours are very different. Mine are more like work and less like a vacation. But you should check out what she has in store for those who can snag a slot on her calendar. Perhaps the most clever thing is that the tours end at the Saturday Farmers Market, allowing tour goers to then spend some time shopping for even more food from local farms to bring home with them.

Speaking of local farms, remember 9 Miles East? Farmer Gordon decided he didn’t want to compete with other farmers at the market, so he built a professional kitchen on the farm. In addition to pizzas, he also makes boxed lunches and take-away dinners.

Well, now those have come to Guilderland, right between Stuyvesant Plaza and Crossgates. The van circulates the Great Oaks office complex on Mondays around lunch time. All the details are here.

This is reasonably close to the SUNY Albany campus where 9 Miles East was recently evicted, reportedly because it ruffled some feathers with the industrial food service provider for the university. I’ve eaten in the faculty dining room, and man, the food at the uptown campus is a travesty.

In addition to having someone like Farmer Gordon, you also have to have a building management group get behind this kind of program. And the fact that more and more people are seeing farm-fresh food delivery to be a perk is a very good sign indeed.

More good things are coming. And while Mr. Dave might choose to disagree, I think Albany is getting better all the time.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2016 7:37 pm

    I have seen the future of Albany County. It all looks like Clifton Park and everyone acts like they are from Long Island… So, you know, if that is your thing go ahead and embrace it.

    • April 29, 2016 5:27 pm

      mr. dave, please elaborate. That incendiary statement requires elucidation.

      (Do I sound like I’m from The Island?)

      I am serious though, I want you to further explain.

  2. David Nardolillo permalink
    April 30, 2016 7:58 pm

    I think you need to clarify that the 9 Miles East van at Great Oaks isn’t carrying their pizza.

    • April 30, 2016 9:30 pm

      The 9 Miles East van at Great Oaks isn’t delivering pizza (but I bet if you called ahead they might find a way of bringing out a half bake… although that’s purely speculative).

  3. May 10, 2016 10:43 am

    Hey Daniel, thanks for the shout-out on their delivery here to Great Oaks. 9 Miles East is a great amenity for our office tenants and we’re fortunate to have them.

  4. March 14, 2018 12:21 am

    Hi Daniel,

    Just wanted to update you on your above cautious hopefulness :).

    Almost 2 years later….Albany Food Readers Book Club is still here! We have a newly designed website and Meetup page. Our membership has grown a lot since this article. I am trying to branch out and connect with other food oriented book club organizers to see what else can be done to get the word out about the importance of understanding out food system.

    Check out the new site if you get a minute. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again for helping me get the word out early on.


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