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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

From food stamps to farmers markets: How the farm bill may affect you

Posted by on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 4:26 PM

On New Year’s Eve, Congress quietly passed the extension of the 2008 farm bill, with drastic ramifications. Funding was slashed for healthy eating programs for food stamp recipients. Money was cut for organic agriculture. Specialty crop grants for a rural development program were axed altogether.

These are among the issues Jared Cates wants to see supported in the next farm bill that Congress is scheduled to pass this year. At a talk at the Irregardless Café in Raleigh, Cates, who works for the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, a nonprofit focused on local, organic food, discussed how federal agriculture policy affects communities, the environment and personal health.

In the 2012 fiscal cliff commotion, you may have heard that the Food, Conservation and Energy Act, or the 2008 farm bill, expired. You may have heard people freaking out about the possibility of $7 gallons of milk.

The federal farm bill actually expired in September. House speaker John Boehner continuously refused, in Cates’ words, to bring new legislation to the House floor for a vote. “I was not surprised,’ Cates said. ‘The can was just kicked further down the road. I’m not surprised it happened at midnight, on New Year’s Eve, when everyone was on vacation.”

He’s referring to last-minute bipartisan legislation that extended the previous farm bill but that significantly cut important programs. These reductions could threaten North Carolina farmers and consumers alike. Ferd Hoefner, policy director for the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, called the deal “blatantly anti-reform.”

The bulk of the 2008 farm bill—almost 70 percent of its $289 billion allocation—went to nutrition assistance programs. According to the 2010 U.S. census, 17.8 percent of the state’s population lived below the poverty line, a traditional indicator of food stamp eligibility. Between 2007 and 2009, 8.6 percent of the population of the 13th Congressional District, which includes parts of Raleigh, for example, used food stamp benefits, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Several other North Carolina initiatives, including one that would bring a mini-mobile farmer’s market to communities across the state, and another that would offer revolving loans to farmers’ markets, were cut under the extension legislation.

“It’s something we all need to be aware of,’ Cates told his audience, ‘because you are what your policy tells you to eat. .We need a farm bill for the next five years that supports community, environmental and personal health. We need to fight to get programs back into the farm bill.”

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    Key programs depleted under farm bill extension

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How will the farm bill affect you? Find out tonight at Irregardless Cafe.

Posted by on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Jared Cates of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association speaks tonight on the environmental, agricultural and nutritional implications of the federal farm bill.

The 2008 Farm Bill expired last year; although Congress failed to renew it, lawmakers extended it until a new agreement can be reached.

The event runs from 7—8 p.m. at Irregardless Cafe, 901 W. Morgan St., Raleigh. It is free.

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    Learn about the federal farm bill tonight in Raleigh

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Fortnight Brewing has big plans for Cary

Posted by on Sat, Jan 26, 2013 at 3:19 PM

When a serial entrepreneur, an industrial engineer, a restaurant owner and two Englishmen share a love of British hops, they join forces to present Cary's first full-scale brewery. Fortnight Brewing Company, scheduled to open at the end of the summer, is finalizing a location on the west side of town.

Named for the two weeks it takes for their brews to ferment, Fortnight Brewing Company was conceived by IT specialist Stuart Arnold and salesman Mo Mercado. The team has since grown by three, most recently with the addition of Cary Mellow Mushroom owner Will Greczyn. His wife, Kate, plans to work the bar and push the brews, as is common among pub wives in England. "Will loves English beer, he just wants to promote it so much. He's the perfect person, with his wife, to educate people when they come into the bar," Arnold says.

Fortnight plans to serve a number of English beers made with genuine UK hops and malt. Their pale ale, what the Brits call a "bitter," will have a base of Maris Otter malt, giving it a smooth nutty, flavor. Arnold says their English IPA is earthy, and contains about 4 percent alcohol.

"Sometimes it's refreshing to taste your pint, then drink it as quickly as possible," Arnold says. "There are a lot of things missing from American beer because there's such a high alcohol content."

That's right, less alcohol. (However, there also will be a selection of stronger beers, including an extra special pale (ESP) ale and several seasonal brews). England is known for its session beers, in which beer drinkers belly up to the bar and throw a few back without worrying about getting too drunk.

Greg Lewis, a hops expert and native Englishman, says Maris Otter is "a great British malting barley," and that we can expect a nice, "warm, gentle, bitter beer style" with a good body.

The Fuggle and East Kent Goldings aroma hops will give the brews a classic English aroma. "If they don't overdo the alcohol content, they'll produce beers that people can probably sit down and drink three, four, even five glasses at a sitting," Lewis says.

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    Cary's first craft brewery slated to open later this year

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Monday, January 21, 2013

3Cups in Chapel Hill closing Feb. 2

Posted by on Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 3:32 PM

3Cups, a popular purveyor of wine, beer coffee and tea, is closing on Saturday, Feb. 2, owner Lex Alexander announced today.

In a blog post on the eatery's website, Alexander said the "business model is no longer financially sustainable."

The business at 227 S. Elliott Road has been open for eight years.

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    3Cups in Chapel Hill closing

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Durham in the running for Southern Living's Best Food Destination

Posted by on Fri, Jan 11, 2013 at 9:19 AM

Durham, we’re at it again, making national headlines with our hard work and pride in local cuisine. Southern Living Magazine just named Durham one of the Tastiest Towns in the South in 2013. I’ll bet you a steaming Watts Grocery grits bowl, a glazed Monut and an Old Havana pork sandwich (pulled and pressed just right) that most of us saw this coming.

Sam Poley, longtime chef and now director of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau, praised the city’s food scene in an official statement:

"Durham's food scene is on par with the best in the nation. Chefs here have integrity, appreciation for the ingredients, the sourcing, the producers, the preparations, and the customers. In Durham, food is a culture that rises above most barriers, and all of Durham's diverse inhabitants come together over great food all the time.”

Southern Living’s blurb noted the pioneering efforts of chef Shane Ingram of Foursquare, defying traditional ideas of fine dining, and the consciously crafted Counter Culture Coffee, home of America’s winningest barista and 2012 Southeast Regional Barista Champion Lem Butler.

Before unbuckling another notch on your belt, don’t get too cushy. Durham could win best food destination in the South with your vote. The other nine Southern cities in the running include the nearby, vibrant scene of Asheville and gourmet hotbeds like Charleston, SC; Austin, TX; Miami, FL; and New Orleans, LA. Click here to vote.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wilmoore Cafe sold to Ashley Christensen

Posted by on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 at 10:57 AM

The Wilmoore Cafe in downtown Raleigh is being sold to chef Ashley Christensen.

David Fowle, who co-owns the Wilmoore, confirmed the deal. The eatery will close temporarily on Jan. 18 and remain shuttered until Christensen re-opens it.

Fowle said daytime business at the South Wilmington Street restaurant has increased as much as 40 percent each month. Although the Wilmoore is open three nights a week, business at that time is slow. "I don't have the energy to do nights," Fowle said.

The Wilmoore will be fifth local venture for Christensen, who is the culinary mastermind behind Poole's Downtown Diner, Chuck's, Beasley's Chicken+Honey and the Fox Liquor Bar.

"She sees the vision of this place," said Fowle, who, with his partners, has owned Wilmoore for two years. "She'll make it better and better."

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    The Raleigh eatery will close temporarily on Jan. 18 and remain shuttered until Christensen re-opens it.

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