Go dawgs, eat kale!
by Landon Bubb, AFM Public Outreach Intern
In honor of Homecoming this past week at UGA, I wanted to propose the unusual unity between the Athens Farmers Market and UGA football. I’ve always found wonder and enjoyment in both. For two years I played Mellophone (the marching french horn) in the Redcoat marching band so football holds a special place in my heart. The AFM has challenged how I view food production and community. Compared, the two events cannot appear more different. On one hand you have the Athens Farmers Market which for years has provided local, sustainable, and organic food for local residents and travelers. A few thousand people visit the weekly market to engage in a community centered event. Local musicians shape the mood of the market while personal involvement between consumer and producer are encouraged and fostered.
On the other hand is UGA football. Since the first game in 1892 against Mercer (we won 50-0), football has become a central part of university culture. With an average of 92,000 attending games, the influx of patrons to local bars, restaurants, venues, and shops bolsters the local economy for homegame Saturdays and Sunday brunches. Games are a massive production centered around the primal act of 6+ ft tall men tackling the heck out of each other. Georgia football games are a totally unique experience with music accompaniment from the 450 piece Redcoat marching band, dozens of interactive cheers and songs, and the chance to bark like a fool in a sea of red.
Ethan Allan Atkinson V and Rachel Atkinson cheer on the dogs and local food
How can these two drastically events ever harmoniously coexist? For the past few months I’ve been surveying Farmers Market patrons about how they view the intersection between the two. Initially, most people laugh at me. Some see football as that nuisance that brings in unbearable traffic. Both the adorable Ethan Allan Atkinson V and mother Rachel were passionate fans of both. Rachel says that “good local food and good football should go together.” Tiffany Eberhard, Junior at UGA, saw that supporting local and wholesome just make sense. Tiffany says that through supporting college football, your support should extend to the community beyond the football game.
My step brother, Eric Streitenberger is one of the biggest football fans I know. He sees the importance of football to the Athens community. He make the case that a good football team is beneficial to the local community and that “the city should support the team as there is such a huge opportunity to make money. A good team makes happy people makes a happy community.” It makes sense that both UGA football and the AFM can benefit from one another.
Lindsey Payne of Lindsey’s Culinary Market has started an innovative way to combine the two realms. Her menu incorporates local ingredients and products like bread from Luna and vegetables from her brother, Jay Payne, at Cedar Grove Farms. Her deli provides artfully crafted soups, salads, and sandwiches for dining in or boxed lunches for office or meeting lunches. She caters events of any size including intimate dinners for two to a recently a Phi Mu family weekend event feeding over 200 people.
Lindsey’s Culinary Market provides an intersection between local food and tailgating
Her shop on Prince Avenue across from Athens Regional Medical is tucked behind a modest garden. The interior decor is reminiscent of home: comfy chairs, natural lighting, warm colors, and delicious smells. Looking over her menu I found a “Pimento-less cheese sandwich.” When inquired she said “I’ve always hated pimento cheese so I made my own!” Sharing her sentiment, I put my trust in her culinary prowess. I am in no way exaggerating when I say that it was the best sandwich I’ve ever had. The substituted toasted almonds and dill offered a savory richness I’ve never experienced in pimento cheese. It may of been because I hadn’t eaten all day and kept biking past her shop but I kid you not, I teared up a bit while eating it. I hugged her for creating such a perfect food.
Life-changing moments aside, Lindsey's Culinary Market is quintessential in uniting local cooking and food with football culture. Before games people pick up prepared tailgating food or can opt to have food delivered directly to their tailgate. She provides all the tailgating essentials short of alcohol. As a regular patron and vendor at Athens Farmers Market events, she sees an obvious connection between the AFM and football. “Why not make a whole day out of Athens?” she challenged. “You go to the market in the morning, socialize there. Then you tailgate with good food and keep socializing there too.” Devoting an entire day to two great local events maximizes the fun on an Athens game day/market day.
In your own home or tailgate, it’s super easy to amend your basic tailgating staples to incorporate local and sustainably grown food. Tailgate inspired dishes can also be used as a side for Autumn potlucks and dinners. Below I list recipes that can highlight seasonal produce and the ingredients you can readily find at the farmers market.
Rosemary Roasted Tri-Taters: Kohlrabi, sweet potato, and baby potatoes, garlic
Game Day Nachos: Goat cheese, jalapenos, onions, spinach
Sweet Potato Biscuits: Sweet Potatoes
Cole Slaw: Cabbage, onions, carrots, beets, honey vinegar
Zucchini, Grape, and Bell Pepper Salad: Yellow squash, zucchini, bell pepper
Beet and Kale Salad: Goats cheese, roasted pumpkin seeds, Kale, beets
Mock Potato Salad: Kohlrabi, red onion, honey
Being a Georgia Bulldawg should extend past the stadium just as the experience of being an AFM shopper should occasionally include the behemoth cultural event of college football. It doesn’t matter if you’re a returning alumnus or a permanent resident, Athens creates a place to express yourself among friends. The Athens Farmers Market helps to cultivate and foster the rich community of Athens which make it a city truly worthy of homecoming.
Check back next week to see if I survive the Wholesome Wave SNAP challenge!