Dorm cooking 101: Shopping locally

Nothing is better than finding how to locally source your food for both freshness and supporting your local economy. Buying locally can be a bit more time-consuming, as you won’t always find everything in one spot like you might in a supermarket, but it’s rewarding to be able to get the exact cut of meat you want or to know that your strawberries were raised by a family farm down the road in South Carolina. You also know that your meat is fresher when you buy from a butcher. When your produce is local, you know it’s not been shipped via plane, train and automobile to get to you.

Maryville is lucky enough to have several stores that can cater to those who want to shop fresh and local.
The two specializing in produce are Amburn’s Produce on Church Street and Horn of Plenty Marketplace on Broadway. These two stores are owned and operated by people who live here. Both provide a great selection of produce year round. They are within walking distance of campus on a good day. The quality of their products is shown by how often the parking lots are packed by people coming in.

There is also the Maryville Farmer’s Market, which offers seasonal produce, and although the last day of the season will be Oct. 26, they have been going strong for several years and aren’t just about selling produce. The market runs from 9 a.m. on Saturdays until sell-out. There are often visiting Master Gardeners and local chefs. If you don’t have a chance to get there this year, there will be a holiday market on Nov. 9, according to the farmer’s market website.

Even closer to the campus than either of these is The Market on Washington Street. The Market houses Mother Earth Meats, which has a great selection of cheeses, deli meats and fresh meat. Mother Earth Meats specializes in grass-fed, free-range meats grown without hormones or antibiotics. The Market itself has an expansive selection of spices, honeys, bread mixes, locally produced cheese and milk, micro brewed beers and the occasional wild mushroom.

New to the local scene are two shops in Alcoa: The Shrimp Dock and Local Butcher Shop are both on Calderwood Street. The Local is a bit of an adventure — you never know what specialties are going to be dished out, but I’ve never been disappointed. The Local also sources as much of its meat and other products from this region. The Shrimp Dock has had a presence in the Knoxville area for 20 years, although its foray into the Maryville/Alcoa market is more recent. The Shrimp Dock is one of the best places to get seafood here.

Of course, famous in Maryville is the Vienna Coffee Company. Roasted, ground and served right here in Maryville, Vienna has become a comfortable friend to anyone who loves coffee. With coffees that are, in my opinion, of far better quality than you will find on most grocery shelves, Vienna deserves a mention.
So, go out and try some of these places the next time you want to whip something up. Splurge on bison sausages down at the Market, or make a hearty vegetable stew with produce you picked up at Amburn’s. You can definitely taste the difference in what you make, and the food will be better for you. Also: be brave. For some people, the idea of grilling an elk steak may be strange, but having a cookout with friends and trying new things is a great way to learn how to cook on your own.

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