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Barbecue And Local Foods / The Good And Bad About Food In Alabama


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Alabama is known for its food, and two recent stories from other websites have a good and bad thing about food in Alabama.  First the good, the website The Daily Meal put out an article listing the top 10 BBQ chains in America.  And two BBQ chains in Alabama are in the top 10!  Moe’s Original BBQ in Tuscaloosa is number 9 while Jim N’ Nick’s BBQ is number 1!  That means you could say that Alabama has the top barbecue in the country.  Here is what The Daily Meal has said about the two top Alabama BBQ chains.

Number 9 – Moe’s Original BBQ

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“With more than 30 locations centered in Alabama and Colorado, Moe’s is doing barbecue right.  It was founded by three friends from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and since 2001, it has grown from a small slopeside catering operation to a barbecue destination.  They still offer catering, but a trip to any of their restaurants is sure to be a good time, and is also a great primer in Alabama-style barbecue.  Pork and chicken are their showcased items, topped with the signature Alabama white barbecue sauce, but the Angus beef brisket, hot links, St. Louis spare ribs, and fried catfish are also worth saving room for.”

Number 1 – Jim N’ Nick’s BBQ

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“If you’re going to open a chain of barbecue restaurants in the Carolinas, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, and Colorado, you better make sure that your product is on-point.  A visit to Jim N’ Nick’s, which was founded in 1985 by a father-son duo in Birmingham, Alabama and now has 30 locations, will show you that this is the real deal. Perennial exhibitors at best-of-the-best showcases like New York’s Big Apple BBQ Block Party, they’re smoking their own pork (sold pulled or chopped with a vinegary Carolina-style sauce), spare and baby back ribs, house-cured bone-in ham, legendary housemade pork hot links, chicken, turkey breast, and beef brisket, all served with a big dose of Southern hospitality.  They also offer a killer hickory-grilled burger and pimento cheese sandwich, but honestly, you’re going to want to reserve all the room in your stomach for this crazy-good barbecue.”

Congrats to the two BBQ chains from Alabama in this top 10 list!  Now the bad news about food in Alabama.  According to Strolling of the Heifers, Alabama is 42nd out of 50 states when it comes to its commitment to local foods.  The 2014 Locavore Index incorporates four measures for which current data is available for all states: the number of farmers markets, the number of consumer-supported agriculture operations (CSAs), the number of food hubs — all compared on a per-capita basis — plus the percentage of each state’s school districts with active Farm-to-School programs.  But more data on local foods should be gathered, Strolling of the Heifers says.

The best state for local foods is Vermont while the worst state for local foods is Texas.  Along with the Index, Strolling of the Heifers released its list of 10 reasons to increase the use of local foods, stressing that local foods are more sustainable, healthier, better for the environment and economically positive than foods sourced from large-scale, globalized food systems.  Here are Strolling of the Heifers’ 10 reasons to consume local foods:

  • Supports local farms: Buying local food keeps local farms healthy and creates local jobs at farms and in local food processing and distribution systems.
  • Boosts local economy: Food dollars spent at local farms and food producers stay in the local economy, creating more jobs at other local businesses.
  • Less travel: Local food travels much less distance to market than typical fresh or processed grocery store foods, therefore using less fuel and generating fewer greenhouse gases.
  • Less waste: Because of the shorter distribution chains for local foods, less food is wasted in distribution, warehousing and merchandising.
  • More freshness: Local food is fresher, healthier and tastes better, because it spends less time in transit from farm to plate, and therefore loses fewer nutrients and incurs less spoilage.
  • New and better flavors: A commitment to buy local encourages people to discover new fruits and vegetables, new ways to prepare food, and promotes a better appreciation of the pleasure of each season’s foods.
  • Good for the soil: Local food encourages diversification of local agriculture, which reduces the reliance on monoculture — single crops grown over a wide area to the detriment of soils.
  • Attracts tourists: Local foods promote agritourism — farmers markets and opportunities to visit farms and local food producers help draw tourists to a region.
  • Preserves open space: Buying local food helps local farms survive and thrive, keeping land from being redeveloped into suburban sprawl.
  • Builds more connected communities: Local foods create more vibrant communities by connecting people with the farmers and food producers who bring them healthy local foods. As customers of CSAs and farmers markets have discovered, they are great places to meet and connect with friends as well as farmers!

So Alabama, do we love our barbecue so much that we are ignoring our local farmers and food?  I don’t think so, local food is growing in this state!

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