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When Will and Ann Bates’ oldest granddaughter, Hallie Bates, was 9 years old and ready to enter the 4-H program in Poteet, Texas, she told her grandparents she wanted to raise animals—pigs, specifically. Will, a longtime agriculture teacher in Poteet, agreed to help her, but under one condition: she had to grow strawberries, too. “This is a strawberry place,” Will explained.
Walk into any Austin restaurant from Torchy’s Tacos to Jeffrey’s and you’ll most likely find that it’s understaffed. In early March 2018, Poached Jobs, a website that posts jobs in the food and drink industry, listed 689 open positions locally, and the Food, Beverage and Hospitality section of Austin’s Craigslist had more than 2,000 posts. We took a quick survey of some of Austin’s most spotlighted restaurants and found that 80 percent had open line-cook positions, and all had at least one open position from hostess to dishwashers. In a lightning-fast-growing city seemingly teeming with eligible people seeking employment, what could be the disconnect?
Humans have long had a love affair with berries—both wild and cultivated—for their deliciousness, versatility and beauty. Native Americans first used berries in tinctures to treat pain, heart ailments and infections, and they may have even invented the first energy bar known to man—a nutrient-dense food called pemmican made from protein (most likely from elk, deer or bison), animal fat and the ever-present berry. Today, we have the privilege of easily picking up multiple varieties of seasonal berries from our markets, or harvesting them from wild patches all around Central Texas.
If Texas has a state wine, could it be rosé? It’s true, the exceedingly popular pink vino may not seem like the ideal dance partner for our leathery and larger-than-life Texas swagger, but this dry, crisp wine keeps up every step of the way with its versatility, big flavor and body that’s light enough to tame our oppressive heat.
In “The Broken Spoke: Austin’s Legendary Honky-Tonk,” author Donna Marie Miller leads us around the dance floor (always, always counterclockwise) of one of the only remaining authentic honky-tonks left standing in Texas. Other than a few inside counters, a coat or two of paint and an added dance floor, things around the Spoke simply haven’t changed that much, and that’s just the way owners James and Annetta White have always wanted it. Once inside the door, the music, smells, atmosphere—sometimes even faces—are pretty much the same now as they were when the doors opened in 1964.
Summer windowsill herb gardens offer easy access to fresh, delicious herbs without melting in our brutal heat, but just like any garden, getting started takes a little preparation. If you want to be top-tech about the endeavor, then by all means, invest a few dollars in a spectrometer and gauge the actual sunlight entering your windows. This might be critical knowledge, actually, depending on the age of your windows. Some newer varieties limit UV-spectrum so effectively that not even Mary’s garden will grow. If this sounds like your case, you can still grow indoors! Look into the many options for indoor plant-growing light systems. Our local community has amazing resources for this sort of horticulture. If, however, you have a sturdy, wide sill below a south-facing traditional-glass window, or a bump-out garden window, then you’ll just need to obtain containers, a growing medium and some seeds or starts for your indoor summertime herb garden.
When I was a little girl in Southern California, I routinely turned up my nose at fresh fruit. Like many kids, I preferred the soft, unidentifiable, brightly colored fruit cubes that came so conveniently out of a can. (I know I wasn’t the only kid partial to that sweet, syrupy fruit from the ’70s, but the irony of walking to school through orange groves in the agricultural capital of the nation, paired with my chosen career as a fruit preserver, is not lost on me.)
Austin has long been a haven for urban wildlife, but because of our recent rapid development, local habitats continue to shrink. A simple way to support our critter friends—especially our beneficial flying critter friends—is to add low-maintenance, locally made nesting boxes.
According to Amelia Raley, co-owner of Sweet Ritual, Austin might just be the vegan ice cream capital of the U.S. Whether true or not, it’s no surprise that such a creative, vibrant city could be considered the epicenter of a national trend toward dairy-free ice cream. And vegan ice cream isn’t just popular with vegans; people looking to remove dairy from their diet for a variety of reasons are enjoying scoops.
First let us define local. We’ve already been amazed at how many meanings that word can have. Within our 30-county area called Central Texas, local is the organic-vegetable-and-lemonade stand run by seven-year-old Alabel Chapin, her five-year-old brother Henry and their six-year-old friend Ford Martin.
(We happened upon them in Austin’s Travis Heights neighborhood—see “1,000 Words,”) Local is the family ranch outside of Fredericksburg owned by Chuck and Teppi Schmidt, who raise pastured, grassfed beef using organic principles. Local is the soon-to-open Big Top Candy Shop on South Congress Avenue—independently owned by Brandon Hodge—featuring an old-fashioned soda fountain.
It may appear counter-intuitive, but lingering over a rare treat of a real egg cream soda counts as the art of slow food. Local is Jesse Griffiths and Tamara Mayfield’s Dai Due supper club where lucky diners are served an all locally sourced menu, family style, at Rain Lily, a gem of an urban farm in East Austin. Tamara met Jesse delivering Rain Lily’s vegetables to Vespaio where he used to work as a chef. Local is exactly about making that kind of connection.
All in One Bake Shop
Austin's retail supply source for baking supplies, products and accessories for home and professional bakers and decorators
8566 Research Blvd.
Bark ‘n Purr
Organic pet supplies
4604 Burnet Road
Boasting one of the largest selections of eco-friendly baby products
107 Old Settlers Blvd, Round Rock
Breed & Co.
Hardware, plus the finest housewares, garden, and gourmet food you’ll find anywhere.
Central: 718 W. 29th St., 512-474-6679;
Westlake: 3663 Bee Cave Rd., 512-328-3960
Callahan's General Store
An Austin landmark for more than 30 years! We're not just a feed store, or western wear, hardware, tack, housewares, or gifts -- we're all of that and more!
501 Bastrop Hwy
512-385-3452 or 800-950-8602
Building affordable, well-made chicken coops for small backyard flocks
Climb On! Products
100% Pure skin care products
691 La Buena Vista Dr. Ste. B, Wimberley
Der Küchen Laden
Der Küchen Laden is all about inspiring the little chef in all of us. One step inside and you’ll see why people call it the candy store for kitchen geeks. Packed floor to ceiling with everything from cookie cutters to small appliances, and a veteran sales staff that feel more like friends than hired help.
258 East Main Street, Fredericksburg
Moving & shipping supplies and box recycle
EcoClean of Austin
Non-toxic dry cleaning and laundry.
2915 Guadalupe Street
Local source for building, home, kitchen, cleaning, baby, furniture, bedding, bath and body, clothing, and other products.
110 West Elizabeth Street
Faraday’s Kitchen Store
Your source for a full assortment of everyday kitchen and specialty gourmet items, from cutlery to bakeware, cookware to gadgets!
12918 Shops Parkway, Suite 540
Fleegal Farms Soap
A healthy, natural alternative of full range face & body skin care products
Gary Weeks & Co. Furnituremakers
We are artist craftsmen in Wimberley making dining chairs, tables, and rocking chairs from Forest Stewardship Council-certified woods.
112 W. Spoke Hill Dr., Wimberley
800-986-3187 / 512-847-3187
The Herb Bar
An extensive array of natural health and bodycare products
200 W. Mary
House + Earth
Austin's locally owned and operated green building material store
1214 W. 6th St., Suite 100
Locally owned eco conscious cleaning company
Olive: Green Goods for Modern Dogs
Dedicated to bringing you the largest variety of healthful and environmentally conscious dog products on the Internet
toll free: 877-654-8355
Organic Carpet Care
All-natural, high performance carpet cleaning
The Purple Fig Cleaning Company
Natural and non-toxic cleaning services and products
Texas Green Clean
Natural and non-toxic cleaning services
Texas Natural Supply
Natural Herbal Bath and Body products made with high quality herbal ingredients & botanicals
4506 Weletka Dr. Suite 200
TreeHouse Home Improvement
Helping build smarter homes and homeowners
Wildflower Linens & Home
Home decor, textiles, linens and gifts dedicated to eco-awareness
908 North Lamar
350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the safe upper limit for atmospheric CO2 to sustain life as we know it on the planet. It’s the number that could define our future.
When you consider that we’re already at 385 parts per million, according to data presented by scientists at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco last December, now is the time to start paying attention and 350 is the number not to beat.
When author (The End of Nature, Deep Economy), educator and grassroots organizer Bill McKibben visited town this March, Austin Green Art founder Randy Jewart hosted a roundtable discussion with Bill and a roomful of Austin’s sustainability crowd. McKibbon, who also founded Step It Up 2007, which organized hundreds of rallies in support of curbs on carbon emissions, explained his latest project—the 350 Campaign (350.org), an international undertaking aimed at further raising awareness about global warming. Bottom line, we all need to do our part or we’re all gonna die, as in global death.
By Bridget Weiss
Photography by Carole Topalian
When I was four, my older brother and sister won a free trip through the Sears toy department in the Hancock Center. They had 15 minutes to fill two large baskets with anything they wanted. Observing this unfathomable privilege ruined me for years, and it all but destroyed the work ethic my parents had tried so hard to instill. As a result, I became the kind of adult who waits for checks in the mail from kindly strangers, who hopes to win a lottery for which I forgot to buy a ticket, who stands ready to move into a house left to me by a deceased, previously undiscovered, relative.
Wholesome name, edgy ingredients. To make Mother Culture Yogurt, Michelle Numbers starts with raw milk—currently illegal to buy in Texas anywhere but straight from a licensed dairy farm. Don’t worry, though, it’s not as sketchy as it sounds. “We have a manufacturer permit from the Health Department, so we’re not doing deals in a parking lot,” says Numbers, owner and founder of Mother Culture. Instead, she has big batches of raw milk delivered to her San Antonio commercial kitchen from Miller Farms, in LaCoste, the kind of place that raises Jersey cows on natural grass and gives them names.
Think about it
Edible Austin is all about food. But is also (and just as importantly) about supporting the building of a deep local economy using local food as the driver. Think about it:
• When you hand the Starbucks clerk a $5 bill, say good-bye. It’s on its way to Seattle. When you hand a locally owned coffee shop your money, a much higher portion of that re-circulates in the Austin economy.
• When you choose the big brands, you are enriching corporations and their shareholders. When you select local products—especially at locally owned food stores like Farm to Market and Thom’s Market, as well as at Whole Foods Market, H-E-B and elsewhere—you are creating local jobs.
• When you purchase directly from the farmers market or farm stand, you are reducing our dependence on foreign oil and chemically addicted industrial agricultural corporations…and you are building community as you meet and establish ongoing relationships with those local vendors.
• When you dine at one of our many independent restaurants—especially those who source local food—you are supporting the entire local food and supply chain. When you dine at chain restaurants, you are likely sending your dollars to some remote location for food and supplies that have traveled back and forth across the globe.
TAKE THE EDIBLE CHALLENGE: For the next week, use cash for all your food and restaurant purchases. Don't use a discount card. As you hand over your hard-earned money, think about: WHO are you handing it to? WHERE is it going? HOW MUCH of it will stay in Austin, re-circulating and building a vibrant, deep local economy?
Just Call it Food...
I’d like to address our current national language of food. Since when do basic words such as “food,” “cheese,” “meat” and “produce” need to be modified with words such as “good,” “natural,” “healthy,” “organic” and “whole,” in order to assure us that they are the “real” deal? Without these modifiers, we’re left to wonder if our food is fractured, unhealthy or unnatural.
Passport to Local!
There’s no denying it. There are times when we just love to pack up and go. We travel for work, we travel for adventure and sometimes we travel just to get away from it all.
By Rachel Cooper
Photography by Logan Cooper
If, like me, you were a kid who reveled in the glamour and glory of a serious dress-up session, you probably owned a feather boa. Perhaps it was in a serene, stately white or maybe an eye-catching pink, but it was made to mimic the classiness of the original chic accessory: the ostrich feather. Around the turn of the last century, adding an ostrich feather to your ensemble was the absolute height of fashion—picture doe-eyed starlets and dancers at the Moulin Rouge.