Thursday, February 07, 2008

Where's the local at SAVOR?

Chris O'Brien — the "Beer Activist" — raises a valid point about SAVOR — the beer and food symposium to be held in Washington, D.C., 16/17 May.

Chris says:

Surprisingly, I don’t detect even a tinge of the local and sustainable craze that has been coursing through the foodie community. Witness the growth of organizations such as Slow Food International, the ‘locavore‘ phenomenon, the 100-mile diet, and the continued double-digit growth in organic food. I suppose the simple concept of beer being a partner worthy of thoughtfully pairing with food is revolutionary enough without complicating matters by weaving sustainability into the agenda. Still, it seems a lost opportunity to showcase fine regional and organic foods from small companies that are such natural allies to the small brewing movement.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be perfectly happy to slowly savor a “Shell-fish Free ‘Crab’ Cake” with a glass of saison, but wouldn’t it have been nice to feature a real crab cake instead, made with blue crabs from the Chesapeake bay, and thus providing an educational opportunity about the collapse of this species? Lots of brewers are hip to the local/sustainable food phenomenon and it seems like the industry really ought to make a point of highlighting regional delicacies that are themselves in danger of becoming as rare as good beer was a couple decades ago.

It's that meme again: fresh beer is the better beer, fresh food is the better food.

Organic is the new hip cause — for beer and food — and that's all well and good.

But how gentle to the environment is organic food shipped in from thousands of miles away? Local and sustainable are the valid issues. If organic follows, as it often does, so much the better.

UPDATE: There will be local food.
  • Hugh Sisson of Baltimore's Clipper City Brewing will be conducting a Chesapeake Bay seafood (and duck) demonstration with chefs from the Phillips Seafood Restaurant.
  • Meadow Creek Dairy from Virginia will be there with its Grayson washed rind cheese.

Chris concludes his blog with resigned praise:
I guess I just want it all. I should just shut up and be happy that they decided to locate Savor right here in my own fair city.

SAVOR promises to indeed be a special event, and, in a way, a watershed moment for craft beer. At least the sponsoring organization — Brewers Association — didn't drop a letter, à la mode, and entitle it SAVR.

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