Local grocery will close unless new owners swoop in

The Root Cellar started in this converted garage in Old Louisville. It eventually closed and operated solely in its Germantown location.
The Root Cellar started in this converted garage in Old Louisville. It eventually closed and operated solely in its Germantown location.

Some sad news from a great local grocer: The Root Cellar will close at the end of the year unless new owners take over the business.

I’ve been a fan of The Root Cellar since it opened in Old Louisville in 2011. The small space was packed with local produce, meat and dairy products. At its peak, owner Ron Smith added a second location in Germantown in 2012 and even created a Kickstarter project to fund a mobile Root Cellar to bring produce to underserved areas in Louisville. Eventually, Ron closed the Old Louisville store and operated The Root Cellar out of the Germantown location.

On Saturday, Ron posted on The Root Cellar’s Facebook page that he will close the store at the end of the year if he can’t find someone to invest in the business. Here’s the post:

As many of you may already know, I have been trying to find some way to keep The Root Cellar around. I have discussed various ideas with some potential investors, but I have not fully committed to the process of selling the business. Well, now I have. I can no longer sustain the financial or physical burden of operating this store. I regret to have to tell you all, that I will be closing the store at the end of this year, unless a buyer or investor is found to take over the daily operation of the store. Any reasonable offer or investment scheme will be considered. I will be open regular hours through this winter and I look forward to serving each and every one of you. Thank you so much for your continued commitment to the store, the farmers and me. If you would like to meet to discuss purchasing the store, please email me at ron@louisvillerootcellar.com.

This makes me all kinds of sad. Ron is a great guy who always had the community’s interests at heart. He wanted to make fresh, local produce available to everyone, no matter what neighborhood you live in. I loved shopping at The Root Cellar when I lived in Old Louisville. It was good to know exactly which farm my eggs came from, to have a variety of seasonal produce around which to plan a meal, and to chat with an owner who loved food and agriculture even more than I do.

I’m not at Oprah-level baller status (yet), but I’m sure there’s someone out there who would be interested in taking over The Root Cellar. Ron included his contact info in his Facebook post, so get in touch with him if you want to invest. I’d sure hate to see The Root Cellar go.

7 tips to get the most out of the Kentucky State Fair

ALERT: You have through Aug. 30 to visit the Kentucky State Fair.

If you still need some convincing, here are 30 reasons why you should visit the fair, also known as the most exciting event of the year. And once you make the correct decision to go to the fair, here are some tips to make the most of your visit:

1. Wear closed-toe shoes.
Goats and other animals track that hay all over the place.
Goats and other animals track that hay all over the place.

Owners walk their animals in, out and around the expo center throughout the fair, which tracks straw, dirt and, ummm, organic material everywhere. You don’t want to step in something gross with just a $5 flip flop protecting you. 

2. Bring cash.
A footlong corndog was $7, a worthwhile purchase for my yearly treat.
A footlong corndog was $7, a worthwhile purchase for my yearly treat.

I’ve seen more vendors accept debit and credit cards over the years, but the majority of business at the fair is cash only.

3. Wear a crossbody bag.
Some of the rabbits were for sale. I was *this close* to bringing one home.
Some of the rabbits were for sale. I was *this close* to bringing one home.

This just makes the day a lot easier.

4. Bring a water bottle.
I don't have any pictures of water bottles, but I do have a picture of a cake in the shape of a woman's behind.
I don’t have any pictures of water bottles, but I do have a picture of a cake in the shape of a woman’s behind.

There are water fountains throughout the the expo center to fill up your water bottle. This is a lot better than paying $2 every time you’re thirsty. And that saves more money for ice cream.

5. Get to the fair early.
The dog show was packed, and it was only 1:30 p.m.
The dog show was packed, and it was only 1:30 p.m.

Traffic has been horrendous to get into the fairgrounds. If you’re going on the weekend, aim to leave the house by 10:30 a.m. to avoid afternoon traffic. And try to enter through one of the gates off Crittenden Drive rather than the big entrance off Phillips Lane. The traffic volunteers still might send you far away to park, but at least you’ll get in relatively quickly.

6. Map your route.
I always include the decorative cakes and other exhibit hall entries in my fair schedule.
I always include the decorative cakes and other exhibit hall entries in my fair schedule.

You have to have a plan of attack to make sure you see all of your favorite sights. Here’s the routine I’ve perfected over five years of fairing:

  • Animals
  • Lunch
  • Miller’s Border Collies
  • Exhibits
  • Flea market
  • Dessert

Notice I don’t have the midway on my list. That’s not an integral part of my fair experience, so I don’t try to squeeze in rides to an already full schedule. Decide what’s important to you and your family and friends, and go with that. You don’t have to make time to see the miniature Christmas tree decorating entries if that’s not your jam.

7. Make time to see the Miller border collies. This is not optional.
The highlight of my visit was getting one-on-one time with Flint, one of the Miller border collies.
The highlight of my visit was getting one-on-one time with Flint, one of the Miller border collies.

I love my dog, Roscoe. I really do. But the Miller border collies put my pooch to shame. These dogs put on demonstrations at the fair to show off their herding capabilities. Their owner uses whistles and voice commands to get the dogs to herd a group of unhappy ducks around a show ring and into a cage. It is AMAZING to watch. And you never know if the ducks will cooperate; this year, they exhibited some civil disobedience and wouldn’t get into that cage. Get to the show ring a half hour early to get a good seat to watch the herding.

Event Alert: Kentucky Farm Festival, July 11-12, 2015

Photo courtesy of Kentucky Farm Festival.
The Maples in Crestwood. Photo courtesy of Kentucky Farm Festival.

I appreciate agriculture. It’s hard not to when you love food as much as I do. Sure, there’s the food stuff that’s scientifically modified and pushed down an assembly line that’s engineered to be DELICIOUS (Oreos, I can’t seem to quit you). But there’s nothing quite like a bite of fresh produce from a farmer, especially if s/he is close enough to call “neighbor.”

If you share my appreciation or just want to learn more about local farming, Oldham County’s tourism and convention board will host Kentucky Farm Fest this weekend, July 11-12 in Crestwood at a farm called The Maples (because all good farms have names, dontchaknow). The Kentucky Department of Agriculture and Kentucky Proud are also sponsoring the event with the goal of celebrating agriculture.

Some of the Kentucky Farm Festival’s activities will include animal demonstrations about shearing and milking, cooking demos, and workshops from chefs, distillers and farmers. You can take a look at the impressive lineup here. I’m pretty excited about the products that will be at the Foodie Market.

Admission to the Kentucky Farm Festival is $5. For more information about getting there and where to park, visit the event’s website.


Kentucky Farm Festival

When: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. July 11, 2015; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. July 12

Where: The Maples Farm, 6826 W. Highway 22, Crestwood, Ky. 40014

Cost: $5

Guest Post: Support the Food Literacy Project in Brackets for Good fundraiser

Blogger’s Note: The Food Literacy Project is a non-profit educational agency that brings “urban communities in Louisville back to the roots of their food” through hands-on programming at Oxmoor Farm. My buddy Adam Price is the treasurer and president-elect of the Food Literacy Project’s board of directors. Adam’s a huge advocate of the Food Literacy Project, and he wants to let Ashlee Eats readers know about the project’s participation in a local fundraising competition. Now, let me step back and let Adam take the mic.

foodliteracy2

I’ll never forget that moment. The Food Literacy Project had just blown past its goal of meeting a $5,000 challenge grant from Kosair Charities after a raucous 20-minute reverse auction during our major fundraising event last September, the Field-to-Fork Dinner.

In retrospect, it wasn’t surprising. We’d had the Mayor speak, shown an incredibly impactful short video of our work with area children, and had a young man who’d participated the last two years say a few words about his experience to a packed room of 150 generous foodies. Then, as I struggled to keep up with calling out the flood of bid cards during the auction, Malcolm ran all around the room pointing out other cards I hadn’t noticed and earnestly thanking these generous donors for their support. When we learned that we’d raised more than $20,000, I made a beeline straight to him and his mother to say that he should be very proud of the role he played ensuring that his experience will be available to thousands of kids next year and into the future.

The Food Literacy Project does great work improving the lives of kids in our city by teaching them about fresh food, how to cook and eat it, and the benefits of getting your hands dirty growing it.

As you may have heard in a recent WFPL news story, the pilot year of the Farm to Family initiative at Hazelwood and Wellington Elementary Schools (made possible through a partnership with KentuckyOne Health, the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, and Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health) is showing promising results. Our intervention nearly doubled the number of kids who reported eating five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, from 23 percent to 41 percent. We also increased the number of kids who have eaten a vegetable they grew themselves from 59 percent to 91 percent and who know a healthy recipe from 63 percent to 93 percent. These are staggeringly successful numbers that are undoubtedly changing the lives of children and their families in our great city. More importantly, we’re empowering a new generation of kids, like Malcolm, by giving them a skill set that goes far beyond growing vegetables and cooking them.

Brackets for Good is a fun new fundraising competition in its first year in Louisville. It started when a group of people in Indianapolis realized they knew only a few non-profits to which they could donate. They decided to play on their city’s love of basketball and created a unique way for deserving programs to “compete” to raise funds, while also making it easy to learn about organizations doing good work in the area.

(Donors visit the Louisville Brackets for Good page, select the organization they want to support, and enter a points/dollar value for a donation. The winning organization receives an extra $10,000.)

The Food Literacy Project is honored to have been selected to participate in this year’s event. Even though we’re a lot smaller than some of the other organizations taking part, we’re confident that the more people hear about us, the more they want to support what we do.

So we’re planning to win the whole thing.

As a sign of our confidence, the Board of Directors has committed to dropping a $1,000 money bomb on the first day of round three of the tournament, which is this Saturday, March 14. But we need your help more than ever to make sure we win the second round. Please consider going to the Brackets for Good website to learn more about us and the other fine organizations taking part. Also please take a moment to “like” us on Facebook and to follow us on Twitter and Instagram so you can know about all the ways we’re inspiring a new generation to build healthy relationships with food, farming, and the land.

As for that moment I’ll never forget, it was the look of pride and achievement on Malcolm’s face when he realized what he’d helped accomplish. We at the Food Literacy Project are fond of saying that while we grow vegetables on the farm, it’s thoughtful, intelligent, caring, (and, yes) healthy kids like Malcolm that are the real fruits of our labor.

The food pyramid is now a plate. Will it help you eat healthier?

Remember that pesky food pyramid we learned about in elementary school?

It’s time to forget all of that.

First Lady Michelle Obama and the U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled a new infographic on suggested dietary guidelines this morning. Behold, the “MyPlate“:

Photo courtesy of obamafoodorama.blogspot.com.

The USDA is now giving us a plate to better visualize the food groups we should eat daily. You can find more about the plate here. Once you get to the site, you can click on each food group to learn more about how much you should eat and examples of food in that group.

You can also read more about previous food pyramids and what critics think of this new graphic at the New York Times.

The plate is a better visual tool for me than the pyramid ever was. Pyramids are fun and all, but I always got confused when I worked my way up to meats and dairy. Thumbs up from me, USDA.

Bits and pieces: McDonald’s weddings, hangover cures and other food news from the web, 10.26.10

  • Can honey help a hangover? How about rubbing lemon on your armpit? The Chicago Tribune provides a handy-dandy slideshow that debunks and confirms alleged remedies to hangovers. After a weekend of hanging with photographers at Mountain Workshops in Elizabethtown, I learned the best cure for a hangover is just not to drink at all. I’m still reeling.

 

  • As a kid, I enjoyed spaghetti sandwiches – a pile of Mama Eats’ spaghetti smashed between two slices of white bread. Now spaghetti tacos are a hit among the kid crowd, according to an article in the New York Times. The dish was featured on the show iCarly and sent tweens into a tizzy to recreate it.

 

  • Love McDonald’s as much as your significant other? If you live in Hong Kong, you can get married in the fast-food restaurant. According to an article in The Independent of London, Hong Kong McDonald’s locations will begin offering on-site wedding packages next year that include your choice of a wedding cake, made of apple pie or burgers. “People said they’d dated here, or met here, and wanted to get married here … We see this as a business chance,” said Helen Cheung Yuen-ling, McDonald’s Hong Kong director of corporate communications and relations.

 

  • Halloween has become good business for American farmers, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. From the article:

Looking to diversify their sources of income, small farmers are expanding their “agritourism” or “agri-tainment” operations beyond the traditional pumpkin-picking, hayride and petting zoo. They’re erecting haunted mansions, dizzying corn mazes and other elaborate attractions on their properties. In some cases, they convert them into holiday spectacles and other themed exhibits to keep visitors coming for a longer season.

Bits and pieces: Swizzle sticks, corn sugar and other food news from the web, 9.21.10

I thank the Internet gods for giving me a reason to use a picture of Jon Hamm. Photo courtesy of labanlieue via Flickr.
  • I am a huge Mad Men fan, an obvious statement if you follow my Twitter feed on Sunday nights. So imagine my delight when I came across this piece from the Los Angeles Times about how the television drama set in the 1960s has impacted a little piece of the food and drink world – the swizzle stick. According to the newspaper, the prominent use of alcohol on Mad Men has sparked a renewed interest in those little rods you use to stir your drink. “Today, these mini-pop-culture icons are emerging as entertaining and valued collectibles,” the article states. “Tangible connections to the past, they’re terrific conversation pieces and come in an infinite variety of dazzling shapes and colors.”
  • The food website Epicurious is celebrating its 15th birthday with lots of lists and compilations of the best in food and wine of the last 15 years. One recent list ranks 16 of the world’s most influential chefs. Unfortunately, no women make the cut. Yet women make up three of the five people or businesses the site considers to be the “next Martha Stewarts.”
  • The Corn Refiners Association has applied to the federal government for permission to change the name of “high fructose corn syrup” to “corn sugar” in an attempt to rebrand the ingredient that has been vilified as a leading cause of obesity in America, according to a story from NPR. “High fructose corn syrup is not particularly high in fructose. In fact, it contains just as much fructose as sugar does,” the article states. But a new name could also be just as confusing, said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

“The term ‘corn sugar,'” he says, “may also be misleading, suggesting that the product is kind of squeezed right out of corn rather than being produced through an industrial process.”

  • Some local news: More nutritional value information will be available in local restaurants in Jefferson County, according to an article in The Courier-Journal. “Next month, the Louisville Metro Department of Health & Wellness in will launch a $500,000 program to begin working with local restaurants and eateries to help them calculate calories in their dishes and print that information on their menus,” the article states.

Bits and pieces: Risky foods, hummus and other food news from the Web, 6.21.10

How risky is Mr. Potato Head?*
  • Be careful before you eat those french fries. Or that tuna sandwich. Or that omelet. They could make you barf, according to a story in L.A. Weekly. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a D.C.-based non-profit, released a list of the 10 riskiest foods regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The list, L.A. Weekly says, is based on cases of illness reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the report, these foods account for nearly 40 percent of all food-borne outbreaks since 1990. The list includes potatoes, tuna, eggs and leafy greens.
  • Congratulations to the leaders of the hunger-fighting charities Bread for the World and Heifer International, the co-recipients of this year’s World Food Prize, according to an article on the Voice of America website. The $250,000 prize is awarded to organizations that have improved the global food supply and helped fight poverty.
  • Well, it’s about time — hummus is catching on in America, especially the flavored varieties, according to an article in the New York Times.

Fifteen years ago, hummus was a $5 million business led by a smattering of companies, the article says. Today it dominates its sales category, called refrigerated flavored spreads, which has more than $325 million in annual retail sales, according to Symphony IRI Group, a Chicago market research firm. Sales are up more than 18 percent in the last year, it said.

  • Some bad food news: Food prices are expected to increase during the next decade, with some grain costs going up between 15 and 40 percent, according to Voice of America. Rising demand for bio-fuels made from food crops will help keep prices rising, according to a report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

*Picture courtesy of Hasbro

Bits and pieces: Amish farming, Jimmy Dean and other food news from the web, 6.14.10

  • The man who brought us pancake and sausage on a stick has passed away. Jimmy Dean, the country music singer famous for his music and the sausage products bearing his name, died June 13. He was 81. My next sausage biscuit will be dedicated to him.
  • The Amish might live a simpler life, but it doesn’t make the group more environmentally friendly. The Environmental Protection Agency is cracking down on the Amish in the Northeast for agricultural methods that are destructive to the environment, specifically the Chesapeake Bay, according to the New York Times.

“Their cows generate heaps of manure that easily washes into streams and flows onward into the Chesapeake Bay,” the article states. “… The challenge for the environmental agency is to steer the farmers toward new practices without stirring resentment that might cause a backlash.”

  • Kitchen gadgets look pretty neat, but they often become wastes of money that collect dust in the kitchen drawer. OC Weekly lists the top five gadgets that you should throw out of your kitchen. I’m a little ashamed to admit that I own two of these.
  • The blurb describing this Men’s Health article pretty much says it all: “Our First World food supply is often cursed with Third World cleanliness — and the results can be pretty gruesome. Here, a rogue’s gallery of the 10 dirtiest foods on our plates.” The article includes lots of tips on staying clean while preparing these dirty foods. But if you are a germophobe, take note: the list of offensive foods will make you even more paranoid.

19 farmers’ markets to visit in and around Louisville (and counting)

Peppers at a farmers' market.

Updated 6.16.10

It’s that time again.

Farmers’ markets have sprouted up across Louisville, displaying a rainbow of produce more brilliant than anything in an art gallery — cardinal red peppers, mustard yellow melons, kelly green pea pods.

I plan to visit my first farmers’ market of the season this week. Here is a list, courtesy of Local Harvest, of some markets in Louisville and southern Indiana.

  • Old Louisville FarmWorks Market, 1143 South Third Street (parking lot of Walnut Street Baptist Church)
    • 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays, June through mid-October
  • Gray Street Farmers’ Market, 485 E. Gray Street
    • 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Thursdays, June 4 through Oct. 29
  • Bardstown Road Farmers’ Market, 1722 Bardstown Road
    • 4:00-6:30 p.m. Thursdays
    • 8am-noon Saturdays (year round, different hours in the winter)
  • Rainbow Blossom Farmers’ Market, 3738 Lexington Road
    • Noon-4 p.m. Sundays, May through October
  • Beechmont Open Air Market, Southern Parkway at Wellington Avenue
    • 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, June through September
  • Broadway Baptist Church Farmers’ Market, 4000 Brownsboro Road
    • 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, now through September
  • Mid City Mall Farmers’ Market, 1250 Bardstown Road
    • 4-7 p.m. Thursdays, now through October
  • St. Matthews Farmers’ Market, 4100 Shelbyville Road (parking lot of Beargrass Christian Church)
    • 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, May through September
  • Suburban Christian Church Farmers’ Market, 7515 Westport Road
    • 3-7 p.m. Thursdays, May through October
  • Phoenix Hill Farmers’ Market, 829 East Market Street
    • 3-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays, now through October
  • Jeffersontown Farmers’ Market, 10434 Watterson Trail
    • 3-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays
    • 7 a.m.-noon Saturdays, May through October
  • Jewish Family and Career Services, 3587 Dutchmans Lane
    • 12:30-4:30 p.m. Sundays, May through October
  • Okolona Farmers’ Market, 7405 Preston Highway
    • 4-7 p.m. Tuesdays, June 23 through Sept. 8
  • Southwest Farmers’ Market, 10200 Dixie Highway (Valley High School)
    • 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, June through October
  • St. Andrew United Church of Christ, 2608 Browns Lane
    • 3-6 p.m. Thursdays
  • Norton Commons Farmers’ Market, corner of Norton Commons Boulevard and Meeting Street, Prospect, Ky.
    • 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, now through Nov. 6
  • St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church Farmers’ Market, 6710 Wolf Pen Branch Road, Prospect, Ky.
    • 4-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays
    • 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, now through Oct. 30
  • Jeffersonville Farmers’ Market, Corner of Chestnut and Locust streets at Wall Street Church, Jeffersonville, Ind.
    • 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays (June 1 through mid-October)
    • 3-6 p.m. Tuesdays (June 1 through mid-October)
  • New Albany Farmers’ Market, 202 E. Market Street, New Albany, Ind.
    • 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays (May through October)
    • 4-7 p.m. Wednesdays (May through October)

Have I missed something? Please forgive me if I have omitted your favorite market. Just shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment.