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16 GOOD DAY, SUNSHINE GEORGIA POWER'S new, more practical solar intiative sees a burst of blue sky in our alternative energy future

21-59 TRY THESE AT HOME EASY-TO-MAKE RECIPES from NWGA's busiest kitchens and brightest chefs

22 WELCH DON'T KNOW JACK

CENT & SENSIBILITY's J. Bryant Steele drinks some crazy juice with formerly sane General Motors CEO, Jack Welch

Below, a head of produce drinks in the rays at Polk County-based OWL PINE FARM. Natural growers/ owners Chris and Erica Gordon contend that they have a vested interest in the health of the community, as well as their bottom line. PHOTO BY DEREK BELL

28 CAN YOU TASTE ME NOW?

How a steady spike in the POPULARITY OF FOOD TRUCKS has NWGA lunches going mobile

34 GROWING GOOD KARMA When it comes to forging new economic ground, our ORGANIC FARMERS are cream of the crop

44 TOASTS OF THE TOWN

Dum-dum-dah-daaaah! And without further ado, the winners of our very first V3 TASTE & TOAST AWARDS

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53 THE SCARE DOWN THERE The Harbin Clinic's Dr. Lee Spivey offers women patients new MINIMALLY INVASIVE SURGERY options

TASTE TOAST

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f

ood and meaningful conversation go hand in hand. Many of us have at least one regular “lunch buddy” who we call up to share our weekday breaks, and mine for the last several years was a man named Jeff Coker. He was about as personable a guy as you’re likely to meet in a lifetime, and for that very reason, he was a man who hundreds of you knew personally prior to his untimely death Sept. 30. The friendship I forged with Jeff, as well as his wife, Cara, and their 5-year-old daughter, Lillian, was one that went much deeper than sharing a mere breakfast, lunch or dinner. The times we spent joining our two young families were the times he and I enjoyed catching up most. I still find myself picking up the phone to see if he can meet me somewhere in town for a quick bite and a good talk. Jeff would often tell me stories of how his little girl had been making wedding plans for herself and my 5-year-old son, Grady; the two have been calling one another “Grady Biscuit” and “Princess Lillian” since they were old enough to speak. But while an arranged marriage set for two decades or so down the line is a cutesy proposition to kid about, Jeff always let me know I had better be raising a perfect gentleman if anything were actually going to develop between the two later in life. He loved his family deeply, and aside from the occasional college football notes and a little music, our conversations were always dominated by our wives and children. It is apropos, then, that I am able to honor the life of a dear friend by way of our first ever V3 Taste & Toast issue, which is, at its very core, a celebration of our most respected Northwest Georgia restaurateurs Managing Partner/ and the very important role they play in our region’s Chief of Advertising

Ian Griffin

publishers’ note

social fabric. Jeff was a patron of just about every decent restaurant in Rome, and he was one of the first people to cast his 16 online for this publication's inaugural Taste & Toast Awards (see pg. 44). Jim Hunter, who is quite the local foodie, originally pitched the concept for this issue to us. Thankfully, Hunter’s great enthusiasm was absorbed by our talented staff, and we appreciate his lighting the fire that later inspired 9,347 of you to cast your votes at v3magazine.com. Together, you have guaranteed that this will be an annual tradition until it no longer stokes Creative Partner/ your interests. Editor-in-Chief And so, without further ado, here goes... The people of Northwest Georgia have spoken, F&B lovers, and we are very excited to reveal the restaurants that have emerged as our First Annual V3 Magazine Taste & Toast Award winners! It is with a heavy heart, of course, that I write this to you all, but I take great pleasure in knowing that my good buddy Jeff would have thoroughly enjoyed thumbing through this issue. And hey, since this is, after all, an affair revolving around tastes and toasts, why don’t we conclude this intro with an appropriate version of the latter— To our good friend, Jeff: You will be greatly missed and fondly remembered.

Neal Howard

Ian Griffin, Managing Partner

M AG A Z I N E Northwest GeorGia’s Premier Feature maGaziNe / November 2012

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF + PRODUCTION MANAGER + ART&DESIGN neal howard WRITERS bryant steele, holly lynch, luke chaffin, mandy loorham, hannah fowler PHOTOGRAPHY derek bell, MFA 706.936.0407 CHIEF OF ADVERTISING + OFFICE MANAGER/SALES DIRECTOR ian griffin AD SALES + CLIENT RELATIONS chris forino, shadae yancey-warren AD DESIGN + CREATIVE ENGINEERING ellie barromeo PUBLISHER v3 publications, llc CONTACT one west fourth avenue, rome, ga 30161 phone: 706.235.0748 email: v3publicatons@gmail.com

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HERECOMES

THE SUN

According to ERVAN HANCOCK (right) and his fellow renewable-energy crusaders, alternative sources of power, including the kilowatts currently being generated via GEORGIA POWER'S RENEWABLE AND GREEN STRATEGIES PROGRAM, are increasingly feasible for Northwest Georgians who have their eyes to the future TEXT BY LUKE CHAFFIN PHOTOS BY DEREK BELL

F

or some time now, Georgians have been hearing about solar power as a plausible piece in solving the state’s complex, 21stcentury energy puzzle. And though for many consumers a solarpowered existence may still be years away, for others it is nearer than you might think. According to Ervan Hancock, manager of renewable and green strategies for Georgia Power, considerable progress has been made with respect to the practical feasibility of solar energy as a roleplayer in meeting Northwest Georgia’s energy demands. Even as we speak, it appears, solar is becoming a greater and greater contributor to our everyday power supply. As a form of natural energy, solar is quite amazing. More of the sun’s energy bathes the Earth in one hour than the world’s population—nearly 7 billion of us—could attempt to consume in 24 hours. For the past 50 years, scientists have been working to improve solar energy technology, learn more about its potential range of application, and use it as the flag-bearing 16

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catalyst for an inevitable, far more environmentally friendly shift to alternative energy sources. But how does it work, exactly? In terms of “solar electric energy”, sunabsorbing panels placed on the roofs of homes and buildings collect sunlight, convert it into usable energy, and generate a direct-current electrical source. Attached to a roof, this manner of “photovoltaic” (i.e., solar electric-producing) system requires little maintenance and can produce energy for 20-plus years. There is also “solar thermal power”, which Georgia Power officials choose to better illustrate with the help of a simple analogy: brewing tea outside on a hot day. More specifically, a jar containing tea and water captures the sun’s rays; the temperature of the water steadily rises until it is warm enough to brew the tea. Using these same principles, water can be heated at home using solar thermal power. Solar energy collectors work with a water storage system that acts much like the jar, storing thermal energy until it is released for hot water use. Pumps circulate the water from the system to the rest of the residence that the solar unit is servicing. As Georgians, we know all about the blazing summers experienced in the South year after year. Since Georgia Power is a summer-peaking utility company, it has adapted time and again to have its supply meet our demand. The max power consumed by Georgians on a given day is

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"THERE NEEDS TO BE A MIXTURE OF RELIABLE, COST-EFFECTIVE [ENERGY] GENERATION CHOICES THAT WE CAN USE AS NEEDS CHANGE AND PRICES CHANGE." between the hours of 4 and 7 p.m., the time when most people are returning home from work, school, or other day-to-day activities. In this three-hour span, these consumers are making dinner, using electronics, participating in any number of activities that require electricity as they settle in for the night. When the sun sets, the demand for energy increases. Solar energy in Georgia, according to Hancock, can contribute significantly to meeting this spike in energy needs. It cannot, however, account for fulfilling all of our energy requirements. “There needs to be a mixture of reliable, cost-effective [energy] generation choices that we can use as needs change and prices change,” Hancock says. There are great benefits to employing fuel diversity, where customers can make the choice that best meets their energy needs. “Customers get the benefit of a diverse fuel mix, where they are not locked into a single generating choice,” says Hancock. Today, whether or not they’re aware of it, Georgians will be seeing the benefits of biomass (a form of renewable energy

created when waste materials from logging areas and land clearings are used to produce carbon-neutral electricity) making its way into the energy mix next year, tentatively. In the meantime, much of the human energy stored in Hancock’s own department will be focused on building up the company’s solar capacity. Solar is making strides in our corner of Georgia. For several months now, solar panels have been deployed on distribution poles across Rome as part of a research project being conducted in partnership between Georgia Power and the Electric Power Research Institute. The goal is to observe whether solar can reduce the energy load on our electric grid during peak times. Just up the road, Georgia Power is also developing roughly 1,050 kilowatts (kW) of solar capacity in Dalton. And with about 700 kW of the power already operational, the output is now being sold to Dalton Utilities. Georgia Power and its parent firm, Southern Company, are in the process of scouting additional sites, and hope to offer the same level of service statewide soon.


Georgia’s top energy supplier also wants its customers to have a well-informed grasp on the functionality and benefits of alternative energy production. The company has even updated the links on its website to better educate consumers with the aid of online calculators, multimedia, frequently asked questions and more. So, how do you determine whether or not your home is a good candidate for solar electric power? Easily, thanks to the helpful info packet Georgia Power has posted at georgiapower.com/solar. An important number of things, from the structural positioning of one’s home to possible obstructions, from space availability to the age of your home’s roof, count in making an educated decision about solar. Georgia Power’s online quiz also directs consumers to resources for financing and installation. And since not everyone will have the right qualifications to sustain efficient solar use, the company presents subsequent options. Georgia Power has a renewable generation portfolio of nearly 1,100 megawatts (MW) complete with solar, biomass, landfill gas and hydroelectric. Together, with a touch of nuclear, the company creates nearly 25 percent of its electricity from zero-carbon sources. According to Hancock, Georgia Power has the largest solar portfolio in the Southeast. A voluntary green-energy program is now being offered in Georgia, as well, by which participating customers meet a portion of their energy needs with power generated from renewable or solar resources These customers cover the additional costs of generating alternative power by paying a small premium for the privilege. Hancock and his colleagues have instituted quite a large-scale solar program. Growing steadily and adding to the current base of a little less than 10 MW, an additional, impressive five-fold increase of 50 MW was secured late last year. Also in the works, a petition to the Public Service Commission could add an extra 210 MW of solar production over the next three years (i.e. 70 MW per). This annual figure breaks down to 10 MW generated by rooftop units and 60 MW more from large-scale “solar farms”, some of which are equivalent in size to 1,200 NFL-regulation football fields. Equally impressive is that Georgia Power is adding this substantial growth to its portfolio without raising customers’ rates. Many would-be solar users may worry that, say, a string of cloudy days could affect their rooftop solar unit’s ability to absorb and convert solar energy. And yes, clouds can certainly fragment sunlight, in the worst

cases temporarily reducing output by 40 to 90 percent. Humidity, a byproduct of cloud cover, also reduces the efficiency of solar technology. Research has shown solar being most efficiently used in the Southwestern U.S., where cloudless days can average 200-plus per year. Georgians, by contrast, see only 109 such cloudless days, thus realistically positioning us to glean only about 60 percent of the same solar fuel as Arizonans. This shouldn’t discourage intrigued consumers, though, as solar technology continues advancing at a rapid rate. Seven to 10 years ago, mind you, solar energy cost up to $10,000 for 1 kW. “There has been a drastic decrease in price, and an increase in global capacity and efficiency,” Hancock explains. Today, 1 kW runs you less than $3,000. Still, many consumers remain wary. “Let us be your energy expert and work with you on your energy needs,” Hancock suggests. Georgia Power has solar consultants working this very instant, across the state, to help its customers walk through their personal questions, determine feasibility, evaluate payback, and find vendors capable of bringing their homes up to solar standard.

Other new initiatives for Georgia’s top utilities namesake, according to Hancock: a transition from coal-fire generation to more cost-effective, gas-fire generation, as well as the construction of Georgia Power’s first new nuclear facility in over 20 years at Plant Vogtle near Augusta. It will produce 2,200 MW, officials say. Also in the works, a contract with a biomass facility under construction in Barnesville, said to be one of the largest in the state. With a design and plan in place, the company now awaits a thumbs-up from the public service commissioners responsible for properly regulating the power business. “Solar is becoming a bigger part of our energy mix, proving itself more costeffective as a player for our needs,” says Hancock stresses. Solar has already emerged as a positive pivot for the power industry here in Georgia, serving as a conduit for economic growth and cultivating a market for solarenergy providers and contractors across the state. For Georgia Power, the will involve heavy investment in heightened efficiency, customer education, rebate offerings, and other enticements to sway consumers toward thinking alternatively. VVV

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Cents& Sensibility .

t

with J Bryant Steele

he business of the news media is not understood by the average American, let alone by other cultures. First of all, serious journalists dislike being lumped into “the media,” which the public generally regards as print, TV, entertainment, advertising, talk radio—Rush Limbaugh, et al—and maybe even sitcoms. Trust me, those people don’t often commiserate. They’ll make small talk at Christmas parties, maybe—a big maybe—but there’s a general distance maintained between one another. You could even call it a palpable dislike. This being said, it was disturbing to learn that Michael Lewis, best known for the book (and subsequent movie) Moneyball, after months of having exclusive access to President Barack Obama, granted the White House permission to review his article before it was published in Vanity Fair. Journalists shouldn’t do that. A journalist’s job is to write the first draft of history—a phrase oft cited by those in the business—not to let those who are making history rewrite that first draft. That’s why an interview and the subject’s very words matter so very much. Most people I interview are aware of this. I have seldom been asked by a source I am interviewing to see my article before I publish it, but it has happened. If it becomes a trend to let sources dictate content, then we will all be losing a critical freedom: the freedom of exchange of ideas. The give-and-take between a reporter and his or her source is the best way to get at the truth, as well as the best way to yield good quotes. Years ago, I interviewed a sheriff whose prisoners were complaining about him. Not uncommon, sure, and there didn’t seem to be a whole lot to it. Still, it was worth looking into. I remember after about a half hour with the sheriff, an old

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country boy from the other side of the state, and after hearing him list the prisoners’ complaints (mostly about the food and kitchen sanitation), he looked at me and said, “I ain’t after their convenience.” He had a point. And I had a good quote. But back to Michael Lewis and the Vanity Fair article: The unnerving thing we should all take from this is that news sources, political and corporate, increasingly are trying to control how reporters report. There’s long been an understanding between reporters, who have a dire need for access to information, and their sources, who have a great interest in seeing that things are spun their way, that there’s a tradeoff around which their relationship revolves. A reporter develops what he or she determines to be a dependable source; the source trusts the reporter to the extent that the two can have lunch without even having to say “off the record” or “deep

background.” And the best way for a source to endear himself to a reporter is to respect that reporter’s deadline—i.e., supply quick and accurate answers. The best way to lose a reporter as a channel for your message is to ignore him. That doesn’t mean always spilling your guts. There are legitimate “no” answers most reporters respect. “We haven’t had time to review” whatever is in question. “We can’t talk about a personnel matter.” Et cetera. But don’t ignore the question, simply say “no comment,” or shove your hand into a camera lens. Why do you think that always shows up on the news? Reporters don’t always go for the jugular. On a few occasions, I have listened to a rant from a red-faced politician and said to him or her, “Remember, we’re on the record.” They calm down quickly. Some might say that’s not what a reporter should do, that he should just write down


question again. And again. And again. And yet again. I’ve been on the other side of the table, and maybe I’ve been asked questions that I didn’t like or questions that befuddled me. The neat thing about those questions is

The venerable New Orleans TimesPicayune is cutting back on print as well, to just three days a week. People frequently ask me if print is going to vanish altogether, which I say is ridiculous. It will just evolve. Newsweek was, at one time, r e v o l u t i o n a r y. Nobody said it would last forever. As for the fans of Kindles, i-Pads, Nooks and other tablets, they’re missing the point. Who wants to go to a bookstore or newsstand and look at a machine? And if you lose a book, you’re out a few bucks. If you lose a machine, you’re out a couple hundred or more. T h e Washington Post is going into nightly news with “The Fold” for Google TV. The Post is a good example of a traditional print bastion making the shift to multimedia. Google, meanwhile, is laying off thousands of its Motorola employees. On a happy economic note, however, Georgia Power has applied for a rate reduction to begin Jan. 1, 2013. Manufacturing output continues to rise and unemployment continues to drop, slowly but surely. Of course, the latest national unemployment numbers, 7.8 percent, have been assailed as having been rigged by the Obama administration, in some kind of transparent ploy to boost his re-election chances. The notion is too absurd to bother dissecting it, but the rumor apparently started with Jack Welch, the longtime CEO of General Electric and once respectable rogue. I once was assigned to write a speech for a corporate executive, and when I interviewed him it was clear he was one of those clueless wonders who rose through the ranks on something other than talent. He had no real idea of what points he wanted to make in the speech. He finally said to me, “Make me sound like Jack Welch.” That would be much easier to do today. VVV

The Louse That Jack Built

Who would have ever believed it? Of all the people in America to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid, a man bearing a last name synonymous with juice would be the latest in a string of 2012 election conspiracy theorists to make a public fool of himself

what people are saying. And most of the time I do. But I also believe that reporters should sometimes make judgment calls, giving their subjects a chance to climb down from their trees. Which leads us to Steve Spurrier, whose ego has its own zip code. The head football coach at the University of South Carolina tried to get a reporter fired because he didn’t like his questions—like that’s the way to cultivate favorable relationships. In his next life, Spurrier is going to sell salvation door to door, a job in which his voice will be even less popular. Next came Lane Kiffin, head football coach at the University of Southern California (must be something about USC schools), who stormed out of a press conference less than a minute after arriving because he didn’t like a reporter’s question. The only thing that course of action guarantees: Kiffin will be asked that

that you can turn them to your advantage if you’re good at bridging or pivoting—as the industry jargon goes. (Don’t draw on the 2012 presidential debate series as prime examples of the craft, whatever you do. Say what you want to say, but in a way that makes it appear as if you’re answering the question.) In the end, like with all professional relationships, it’s a matter of trust—but with the understanding that there might be more at stake than simply buying, say, a new car. Words don’t carry a warranty.

c

Steele's Biz Bits

hanges in the news business are occurring at a sprinter’s speed, but the latest bombshell of them all is that you’ll no longer be able to pick up a copy of Newsweek at the newsstand. The respected weekly, long the middle sibling between Time and U.S News & World Report, is ceasing its print edition and turning to digital only. At one time, Newsweek was as good or better at analyzing the news as its rivals (except for the embarrassing “Hitler diary” episode), but the appetite for news in 2012 seems increasingly satisfied by sound bytes, less by analysis. Newsweek will always have a special place in my heart: It’s where I published my first freelance piece, years ago.

J. Bryant Steele is an awardwinning business journalist and feature writer based in Rome. vini vidi vici / v3 magazine

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fast food 2.0

s

ome in the business argue that the movement began in 2008 in Los Angeles, with the now-famous Kogi BBQ truck, the specialty of which are Korean-Mexican tacos. Others insist the first real food trucks were chuck wagons trailing cattle drivers across the Great Plains. Some even venture so far as to name Charles Goodnight, the famed Texas cattle rancher often referred to as “the father of the Texas Panhandle,” as also bearing claim to “father of the modern food truck movement.” No one can be certain as to the true origin of this budding phenomenon, of course, but there is one thing on which all concerned parties appear to agree: Food tastes better when it’s made on wheels. These motorized kitchens come in all 28

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workable models. Converted school buses, pull-behind trailers, and large, customized trucks are only three of the looks that can be seen parked along the streets of Greater Rome, awaiting any and all in search of a new flavor combination or a saved dollar in their wallets after breaking for lunch. “Restaurants are a risky business, especially in this economy,” says Derek Brady. He and his wife, Joan, are the owners of one of Rome’s busiest food trucks, Crawdaddy’s Cajun & Creole Cuisine. “There are a lot of talented cooks out there [who] can’t afford a real brick-andmortar restaurant. This is a great financial alternative. Your startup costs are way less.” Crawdaddy’s is best known for its authentic, Cajun/Creole-inspired dishes. Chef Joan lived in Louisiana for a spell, and was inspired by the food she experienced

there. She had always dreamed of owning her own restaurant, just a four-walled space with a well-functioning kitchen and the amenities necessary to put out quality food, but opportunityʼs ill-timed correspondence with a worsening economy had made the couple understandably nervous. Then, after watching a show on Food Network titled The Great Food Truck Race, the Bradys were suddenly captivated by a growing craze they had never before heard of, much less considered becoming a part. On the show, competitors race from L.A. to New York selling food along the way. The first one to make it to New York wins. Newly inspired, Derek and Joan to purchase their own mobile cooking station, a place where Joan could at last share her talents without assuming such great risk— particularly in a forever-shaky market only


made shakier by a global banking crisis. It was a brilliant decision in retrospect, however, and today, after remaining fans of The Great Food Truck Race for three full seasons, Derek says the couple can “really identify with some of the mistakes and successes” observed on the show. “The whole food truck concept was new. No one had done this before in Rome. “We opened up Christmas week, on Dec. 20 of last year. It was cold. There were so many unknowns. We set up across from Brewster’s on Shorter Avenue [and]

text by mandy loorham

photos by derek bell

did $100 in sales that first day. We were thrilled.” Not bad for a first-day run, sure, but business has increased dramatically since. The Bradys now operate four days per week and offer an ever-changing menu. For these lowered-risk entrepreneurs giving life to the food truck boom, the importance of staying on the cutting edge cannot be understated. Chef Joan, for instance, attends culinary school on Thursdays simply to hone her chops, and stay abreast of the latest techniques/ industry trends. Social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter are crucial to the success of this rising industry, as well, allowing each on-the-go proprietor to instantaneously update his or her business hours, current location, and über-fresh menu selections. You wouldn’t have guessed it, perhaps, but food trucks are quickly becoming known for their innovativeness, menu variety, and their implementation of fresh, locally harvested

joan brady crawdaddy's

cajun & creole cuisine

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"It beats having to pay all the bills that go with a restaurant. Worse comes to worst, you just take it back home."

produce. Many more are heralded for their melding of influences from multiple world regions and cultures. For the Bradys, what appears on Crawdaddy’s menu each day depends on what has been caught in the Gulf. “Where we get our food is key to our success,” Derek says. “The crab that goes into our crab cakes is still swimming just a day or two before you eat it. It’s never frozen or pasteurized. Fresh from scratch, that’s what we strive for. You can tell when you have it.” The ability to remain in close, 24-hour contact with your clientele has another benefit. It brings the cooks and the customers closer together, too. When asked what might be different if Crawdaddy’s were to begin operating without the assistance of social media, Derek pauses for a moment. “We would have to be more set [in our] regimen, on our time and menu. We would have to advertise and have a website that could be easily updated. We definitely wouldn’t get the same response. Social media is a big player in this industry.” The food truck options tasted on the streets of Rome are just a tiny slice of the greater movement’s palate, and thousands

are hatching their plans and beginning to mobilize this very instant. One such entrepreneur is Carrie Bishop, owner of Cupcakes Around the Corner, who will soon be joining the food trucker fleet with her personalized, baked-to-order cupcakes. “Everybody loves cupcakes,” says Bishop, “from kids to grandmothers. “I have a 6-year-old daughter and this will give me more flexibility. She can go with me; it’s a better situation for a mom.” Bishop also sees the truck as a quality long-term investment. “Once you purchase the truck, it is yours. You have it and don’t have to worry about a building, a lease, or upkeep.” Tony Molina and Cesar Gropeza, cousins who came to visit family in Rome and saw the need for an authentic, Mexican mobile food truck, had operated their rolling restaurant, Taquerias Los Compadres, in Gwinnett County for seven years before moving their operation here. Capitalizing on the fact that they already owned the truck—as noted by

tony molina & cesar gropeza taquerias los

compadres 30

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Bishop before them—moving the business to Rome was no stretch. Gropeza says, in retrospect, the two men couldn’t be more pleased with their decision. “Black, white, or Hispanic, they all know Mexican food around here.” The best thing about owning a food truck, though: “You can always move it … It beats having to pay all the bills that go with a restaurant. Worse comes to worst, you just take it back home.” Not to mention the little-known fact that operating a food truck is pretty fun. There are always new people to meet, and the cousins behind Taquerias Los Compadres both love to see firsthand their patrons enjoying their food. “We will have whole families come up at night and...stand around the trailer eating. No one wants to wrap up dinner and take it home.” Molina keeps it simple, sizing up the food truck movement on the whole in a lone, yet poignant sentence: “Food tastes better when you eat it from a counter.” VVV


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Building What You Imagine Construction, remodeling, and more

706-252-1471

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Sowing THE SEEDS OF LOVE FOR THREE BURGEONING LEADERS OF THE NWGA NATURALLYGROWN FOODS MARKET, SELLING WHOLESOME EDIBLES THAT FOSTER A GREATER PUBLIC VITALITY IS NOT ONLY AN ETHICAL OBLIGATION OF BUSINESS, but a moral charge to keep

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CRAIG TUCKER TUCKER FARMS

TEXT BY HANNAH FOWLER ADDITIONAL COLOR BY NEAL HOWARD PHOTOS BY DEREK BELL

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I

t’s a simple question that people overlook every day: Where does my food come from? Most grocery store shoppers don’t stop to think what pesticides have been used on the lettuce they are purchasing, or for how long their tomatoes traveled in a truck before hitting the shelves. But the emergence of locally based organic farms has prompted many to reconsider what they are putting into their bodies. The term “organic” used to be reserved for health nuts via specialty chains such as Whole Foods. In the year 2012, however, growing concern over the nation’s ever-widening obesity epidemic and, consequently, the role major food conglomerates may be playing in the crisis, has helped usher in a boom of organic sections in most major supermarkets. Northwest Georgia-based organic farmers, including the owners of Rise ’N Shine Farm in Calhoun, Rome’s own Tucker Farms, and Owl Pine Farm in Polk County, are also prime, locally managed examples of companies who are deeply invested in bettering the way people eat. They are agents of slow but steady change, providing fresh, chemical hazard-free food to their surrounding communities. To hear them tell it, the proprietors of these three operations also share a burning passion for

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growing the freshest, healthiest produce possible, and each claims to personally oversee the development of their produce from planting to harvest. In turn, they say, their customers are left with no mystery as to the source of their food, and by ensuring a reliable means for NWGA customers to purchase organic produce from their own neighbors, they are helping to service the greater good in terms of both food quality and industry growth.

Recent media, such as the critically acclaimed 2008 documentary, Food, Inc., have also helped by bringing to light many disturbing truths taking place behind the scenes in fields and slaughterhouses run by America’s mass food producers. As a result, farms like Rise ’N Shine are beginning to reap the benefits of a rapidly expanding market. According to a study published in Growing for Market, a popular magazine among farmers and gardeners (visit growingformarket.com), organic farming improves soil and groundwater quality, helps to abate climate change, reduces chemical exposure, and yields healthier produce. Organic farmers like Mitch and


“YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. IT COSTS MORE TO DO IT RIGHT.”

The LAWSONs Rise 'N Shine Farm

Mitch, ELAINE, CAMILLE & elisabeth

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Elisabeth Gilbert-Lawson of Rise ’N Shine contend that with more and more people learning these facts, organic food will graduate from its foothold in a niche market and become a mainstay. In step, they project that free market forces will lead to increased efficiency and decreased costs for consumers. For those shoppers who still feel that it’s simply too expensive to go organic, the Lawsons level with them rather directly. “You get what you pay for,” Mitch says. “It costs more to do it right.” For example, while commercial farmers employ cheaper pesticides and purchase them at bulk rates, organic farmers restrict themselves to wholly organic fertilizers and pesticides,

which are up to 10 times more expensive than their far more dangerous counterparts. This added cost, however, ensures a fresher, healthier yield. The Lawsons have worked tirelessly the last eight years to provide high-quality food for their buyers. The couple upstarted Rise N Shine Farms in 2004, with a mere two acres of land on which they built a ragtag barn out of old scraps. Amazingly, though, in the last 12 months alone Rise N Shine has

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doubled in size from 10 to 20 acres. They are “certified organic,” to boot, meaning they have been certified by the USDA as a grower who uses absolutely no synthetic herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers to grow their crops. It’s also a feel-good label to carry, it seems, one that brands a farmer as doing his part to improve the soil quality, water supply and wildlife protection in NWGA. As a former member of the Coosa River Basin Initiative, Mitch says he has always been heavily invested in protecting the environment and finding a way to live off the land without causing it harm. To this end, organic farming is just the ticket—a way to make a living that mutually benefits the Earth, society at large, and his family. Growing organically comes at a cost, though. Unlike commercial farmers, of course, organic farmers cannot spray powerful pesticides or weed killers that expedite production, nor are they capable of growing crops out of season. Instead, they must take care of subsequent problems themselves, often running the risk of losing entire crops due to environmental factors.

Despite these challenges, Mitch and Elisabeth are proud to grow that which is healthier, rather than that which is easier. They are especially enthusiastic about the fact that their business benefits the local economy, as opposed to boosting revenue thousands of miles away. And with the introduction of Rise ’N Shine’s Community Supported Agriculture program, customers can now take a walk through the produce being grown at their facility, and actually lay their own eyes on the food they will, hopefully, be consuming in the near future. “I get to have a relationship with the people who eat my food,” Mitch says. “It gives me a greater sense of community.”

EVEN THE BUGS WON'T EAT IT

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ome 30 minutes south of Rise ’N Shine, Rome-based Tucker Farms boasts its own variety of produce. Here there is also a lush, lovely garden to skip through, as well as a hydroponic greenhouse, hoop house, and an orchard. Owner Craig Tucker says that he grew up eating fresh, homegrown food from his grandfathers’ gardens, and claims to have spent the last


The GORDONs OWL Pine Farm Erica, ivy & ChRis

seven years looking to render that same level of quality to his customer base. Tending to the lion’s share of the work himself, Tucker admits that sustainable farming is labor intensive and time consuming, namely because tasks are carried out by hand. Still, there is something special about getting to know on a personal level the dude who handles your food from seed to delivery. “I literally inspect every tomato before I put it in a bag,” Tucker says. One way the Tucker Farms operation sets itself apart is by allowing customers to buy their produce here without enlisting in a Community Supported Agriculture program. Instead, Tucker offers an easyto-navigate online store (tuckerfarmsga. com) where his customers can place orders without paying any upfront costs or making longer-term commitments. And in a further effort to show his dedication to the greater social good, he often works in cooperation with other local farmers to share produce surpluses through tuckerfarmsga.com. Think about it. In a grocery store, you can’t call someone and ask who personally grew your cabbage, but you can call Craig with a question anytime. And while most commerical produce is packaged,

transported, and placed in storage several days before it appears on supermarket shelves, Tucker, by contrast, guarantees the utmost freshness by packaging and shipping each order within 24 hours of receiving it. When you eat vegetables served the same day they are picked, Craig says, customers can taste the difference, adding that most people who give locally grown, sustainably produced foods a try rarely ever return to supermarket produce. Simply put by Tucker Farms’ greenthumb-in-chief: “If even the bugs won’t eat it, then it’s probably not good for you to eat, either.”

NATURAL IS NOT "NEW AGE"

S

tarting out with only a small garden in their backyard, Chris and Erica Gordon, owners of Owl Pine Farm in Polk County, have managed to expand their business to reach local farmers markets and establish their own CSA. As the only workers who tend Owl Pine produce, the couple is busy

Continued on pg. 62 >>>

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Blackened

chicken alfredo

Fettuccine in freshly made Alfredo sauce topped with Blackened Chicken Boneless, skinless chicken breast, pan seared with a special blackened seasoning. The homemade Alfredo sauce consists of heavy cream, egg yolks, Parmesan cheese, and real butter. The Alfredo sauce is then tossed in Fettuccine and topped with the blackened chicken.

Homemade

Fresh Pizza

pizzas are homemade always 2 for 1 fresh dough daily Pasta Dish and Pizza by Gondolier’s 152 Shorter Avenue, Rome, GA 706.291.8080

Come to Gondo’s


Bayou

Bleu pizza

The creole inspired pizza The Bayou Bleu was recently added to the corporate Mellow Mushroom menu after becoming a hit during the “Shroom’s Gone Voodoo” promotion in 2010 which focused on New Orleans inspired flavors and the Voodoo Experience, a New Orleans music festival. This pizza embodies the bold and spicy flavors that make Creole cuisine so delicious.

Bayou Bleu in a nutshell This is a very simple pizza that features some amazing ingredients: all natural grilled shrimp, andouille sausage, mozzarella cheese and fresh chives. However, the real star of this pizza is the spicy bleu cheese base, which starts with our signature Mellow Mushroom bleu cheese and is combined with blackened redfish seasoning. This fiery cheese unifies the medley of ingredients and bursts with creole flavor when the first bite enters your mouth.

EXPERIENCE THE BAYOU BLEU.

238 Broad street, rome georgia - 706.234.9000


ShopRomesm WWW.ROMEGA.COM “I ShopRomeSM for job creation and to encourage prosperity in Rome & Floyd County. Shopping locally keeps our dollars within the community and grows the local tax digest. It just makes sense!� -Buster Young Edward Jones Investments

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&

TASTE TOAST

1ST ANNUAL V3 MAGAZINE

RESTAURANT AWARDS

And now (fade drum roll), without further ado, we introduce the 12 big winners in our first ever, 16-category nod to the fine people of Northwest Georgia who keep us well fed and sharing well wishes with cherished friends and family. Here, here! A toast to all that you do, directly from 9,347 of the people for whom you do it >>>> 44

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TEXT BY MANDY LOORHAM & NEAL HOWARD PHOTOS BY DEREK BELL

I

n 2001 the Harvest Moon Cafe opened its doors, allowing first-time diners inside a newly renovated, beautifully historic building on Broad Street in Rome. In the 11 years since, owner Ginny Kibler has persisted in offering the city's most signature menu to her loyal customers. Narrowing it to the simplest of goals, Kibler say that all “The Moon” strives for each day is to plate for its patrons the sort of “food that we would be proud to serve our family and friends”—with a pinch of expertise, of course. Perhaps this very commitment to quality, while remaining within the parameters of a more-or-less traditional Southern palate, is the

'TIL THE COWS BRING IT HOME

HOW KIBLER & CO.'S 11-YEAR GRIND HELPED "THE MOON" WALK AWAY WITH OUR 2012 VOTERS' TOP HONOR A-1 reason Harvest Moon has taken the crown for Best Overall Restaurant in our First Annual V3 Magazine Taste & Toast Awards. It is “a huge honor,” says an excited Amie Sabourin, marketing director for The Moon. “Ginny was thrilled when she found out. It is great for her to hear positive feedback from her customers. She pours

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her heart and soul into this restaurant.” Rome-Floyd foodies with a penchant for higher-quality dining certainly know the name, even if they—Lord knows how—haven’t yet gotten around to trying the food. Come to think of it, how could they not recognize the Harvest Moon brand by now (complete with adorable, cow-friendly logo)? Particularly after

more than a decade of appearing atop the tables of nearly every catered event in town—not to mention the characteristic sidewalk overflow of weekend diners cascading from The Moon’s double-doors each Friday and Saturday night, no matter the season. To be frank, if you’ve taken a breath and/or a bath since the year that made director Stanley Kubrick a household name, you know that Kibler and company have the taste buds of thousands wrestling with addiction—sweet, sweet, delectable addiction. Another arena in which Harvest Moon is notably adept: the restaurant’s welcoming of a challenge, and the sort that pushes its


hipster—crowd by which mingling comes rather easy. (And hey, if the romance angle doesn’t work out for you, might we suggest drowning your despair in a “Widespread Panic” burrito? Not only is it extremely tasty, it’s also extra absorbent.) The most recent addition to the Harvest Moon repertoire was the right-next-door success found in its sugary sweet, sister spinoff, Honeymoon Bakery. Honeymoon, which began doing business in 2007, was a stroke of simple genius that now acts as a perfect complement to its neighboring restaurant. A guilty conscience is the order of the day hereabouts, and the self-derision that follows giving in to any one of their cruelly tempting treats is, sadly, worth every “woe is me” moment.

T&T

“I’m not surprised” about Harvest Moon Café winning the award for Taste & Toast 2012’s Best Overall Restaurant, says regular patron Harry Brock. “They do so many things well, from the great food to the music, the funky atmosphere, the catering—it’s always good. “When Harvest Moon opened, they set a new standard not only for the overall quality of the dining experience, but also the adaptive reuse of a downtown building. Everything they do is top notch, from the atmosphere to the food and the live entertainment.” VVV

More Taste & Toast, pgs. 48-49 >>>>>>>

BEST OVERALL RESTAURANT HARVEST MOON CAFE

chefs and servers to the brink. Hence, The Moon staff is rendered that much more resilient when things get extra hot. Matter of fact, if it has to do with bringing people together through a universal love for food, The Moon has probably done it and done it well. Most likely several times over. Wine tastings, beer-lover dinners featuring the best labels in town, wild-game dinners, on-location dinners, you name it—Kibler’s outfit has surely executed the affair to a soundtrack of glowing reviews. Next up for 234 Broad Street, a singles night for the 30-and-over professional crowd, set for Tuesdays at the Moon Roof Bar. “This will not be a college night,” Sabourin emphasizes. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. We are even going to try some speed dating.” Per the usual, the ambiance will be set with the help of good live music, a swath of funky brew labels you may not yet have tried, and a hip—not to be confused with vini vidi vici / v3 magazine

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BEST AMBIANCE & DINING ROOM SERVICE BEST WINE SELECTION BEST ITALIAN CUISINE

BEST ASIAN CUISINE 727 Turner McCall Boulevard, Rome

706.232.3317

BEST SANDWICHES

schroeders newdeli.com

406 Broad Street, Rome 706.234.4613

lascalaromega.com 413 Broad Street, Rome 706.238.9000

*RIVERSIDE LOCATION ONLY

BEST MEXICAN CUISINE BEST ORIGINAL PIZZA BEST BEER SELECTION

311 Riverside Parkway NE, Rome

706.235.0555

14 East Church Street, Cartersville

BEST PLACE TO WATCH THE GAME

770.607.5357

mellowmushroom. com/rome 238 Broad Street, Rome 706.234.9000

BEST HAMBURGERS

fuddruckers.com BEST CHICKEN WINGS

595 Riverside Parkway NE, Rome 706.233.9960

jeffersonsrestaurant.com

340 Broad Street, Rome 706.378.0222 48

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BEST HOUSE STEAK

J

BEST BARBECUE

johnnymitchells.com

100 Covered Bridge Road, Euharlee 770.383.3383


BEST SWEET TOOTH FIX

Coosa Valley Home Health Care, an Amedisys company, is in the business of helping our patients maintain and improve their quality of life-at home. Home is the place where family, friends and familiar surroundings make patients feel most comfortable - and recover faster.

honeymoon bakery.com 228 Broad Street, Rome 706.232.0611

With more than two decades of experience in the health care industry, we understand the importance of delivering highquality services to patients in their homes. Choose Coosa Valley for all your home care needs.

BEST WORTH THE DRIVE

mentone wildflower.com

6007 Alabama Highway 117, Mentone, Ala. 256.634.0066

Skilled Nursing Home Health Aides Physical Therapy Occupational Therapy Speech Therapy Social Workers

Diabetes at Home Heart at Home Joint Recovery at Home Better balance at Home Partners in Wound Care Surgical Recovery at Home

BEST OVERALL

myharvestmoon cafe.com 234 Broad Street, Rome 706.292.0099

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THE RIGHT TIRES. THE RIGHT TIRE DEALER. Come in today and discover how the right tire changes everything.

New and used • all major brands

NOBODY BEATS OUR PRICES!

Copyright © 2010 Michelin North America, Inc. All rights reserved. The Michelin M Man is a registered trademark owned by Michelin North America, Inc.

46 Lake Wanda Rieta Road Summerville, GA. 30747 | 706.857 1566 52

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REECE TIRE


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Hospice Services: • • • • • • • •

Skilled registered nurses Pain and symptom management Counseling to patients and families Spiritual care Volunteer services Assistance with daily living activities Bereavement services Covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance carriers

www.united-hospice.com

(706) 236-4704 - Serving Floyd, Polk, Chattooga, and Haralson Counties (706) 602-9546 - Serving Gordon, Bartow, Catoosa, Walker, Whitfield, Dade, and Murray Counties Services provided regardless of patient’s ability to pay. Lic# 057-0268-H, 064-073-H

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PROUD TO REPRESENT Zelma’s Blue Ribbon Jams & Jellies Boar’s Head Meats and Cheeses Organic Farm-To-Table Produce

COMING SOON to Rome, Georgia Visit us on Facebook

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>>> Cont. from 39, “Sowing the Seeds...”

It's somewhat ironic, isn't it, that many americans still view NATURALLY/organicALLY GROWN food as some sort of “NEW AGE" FAD, when, in fact, it is CLEARLY the way our food WAS meant to be GROWN...?

raising a young family and keeping up with a wide variety of crops on their now two-acre farm. When asked why they choose to invest their labor into naturallygrown produce, Chris suggests that he and Erica want to stake their lives in a profession that benefits society, something they can be proud to tell their children they are a part of, as opposed to training their focus on the bottom line. Like

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their fellow, local, natural growers, the Gordons are dedicated to yielding clean, chemical-free produce that is better for both the environment and their customers. Chris and Erica say they find it fascinating, “beautiful” to watch food grow naturally without unnecessary interference from harmful sprays. And because most of the daily work is carried out by hand here, as well, Chris and Erica also oversee every step of the process from seed to delivery while making sure customers receive their orders within a day of picking.

“I love my customers,” Erica says of the job’s social pluses. “They have become my best friends.” At Owl Pine Farm, customers see where their food came from, who grew it, and when it was picked. There is tangible reassurance that what they are feeding their families is both healthy and safe. To become a part of their CSA, visit owlpinefarm.com to sign up for the Spring 2013 session and receive a delicious variety of fresh produce. It’s somewhat ironic, isn’t it, that many Americans still view naturally/organically grown food as some “new age” fad, when it is clearly the way our food was meant to be grown—i.e. aided only by soil and sun? In response, our support of local farmers like Rise ’N Shine Farm, Tucker and Owl Pine might help make the lives of Northwest Georgians better on the whole. VVV


Wildflower WildflowerCafé Café & Country Store

& Country Store

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Saving money will give you something to smile about.

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Novermber 2012  

V3 November 2012

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