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David Pendered

Appetite for groupon to farm-to-table cafe shows demand for organic foods

By David Pendered

The farm-to-table movement has reached the point in metro Atlanta that today it is attracting buyers in a deal-of-the-day internet coupon.

Buyers are snapping up the deal-of-the-day coupon for Sweet Potato Cafe.

Buyers are snapping up the deal-of-the-day coupon for Sweet Potato Cafe.

Sweet Potato Cafe, in Stone Mountain, is offering a half-price deal for brunch, lunch or dinner through groupon.com. Over 100 deals had been sold by mid morning.

Georgia’s movement of sustainable agriculture also marks another milestone: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, has signed on as the keynote speaker of the Farm Rx conference sponsored in February by Georgia Organics.

Organizers of the conference, on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23, say they are starting something new this year that, “we hope is revolutionary for the good food community,” states the web page.

The website says the conference will: “Focus on how farm-fresh food can transform our health. We’ll welcome new health allies, such as dieticians, doctors, nurses, therapists, hospital administrators, nutritionists, students, and many others on the front line of our country’s healthcare crisis.”

Portions of the conference are already sold out, and tickets remain for other events. Highlights of the overall conference include tours of 12 farms; workshops; educational sessions and “one legendary farmers feast.”

Joining Gupta on the list of speakers is Robyn O’Brien. O’Brien has spoken at TEDxAustin and describes herself as a concerned mom who speaks out on issues related to the health of children and food they consume.

As a 2011 entrant in the local market, Sweet Potato Cafe specializes in locally grown fruits and vegetables. The menu includes meats, eggs and cheeses that are grown without hormones or antibiotics, according to the restaurant’s website.

Sweet Potato Cafe is working to establish its footprint in this farm-to-table market.

Owner/Chef Karen Patton has a lifelong interest in the role of food in controlling diabetes. She has provided cooking demonstrations at sites, including Grady Memorial Hospital, to educate people about the selection and preparation of foods that are more healthy than others, according to the website.

At Drew Charter School, in the East Lake community, Patton joined acclaimed chef Michael Deihl in adopting the school as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program. The program aims to end childhood obesity.

Deihl brings name recognition to the partnership. Deihl is the executive chef at the East Lake Country Club, and appeared on the TV show “Iron Chefs” last year.

Metro Atlanta is a growing market for food products grown in manners other than the industrial approach that became the norm in the 20th century.

A number of grocers have established their footprint, and demand is such that a relative newcomer in the market is expanding. The Savi Urban Market location in Brookhaven intends to double its size. The additional space will accommodate an expanded selection, as well as lifestyle programs such as wine tastings.

The state is promoting the farm-to-table movement. Gov. Nathan Deal has signed a supportive bill passed by the Legislature in 2011, and the University of Georgia has formed a consortium to assist small farmers.


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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