Greening Is Killing Florida Citrus -- Now's the Time to Support Your Local Growers

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USDA.gov Flickr/cc
Healthy, happy Florida oranges.
While Florida's top crop might be tourists slathered in sunscreen, agriculture ranks right up there, too. According to the state, Florida produces about 67% of oranges in the U.S. and accounts for about 40% of the world's OJ supply.

The industry has a $9 Billion impact and supports 76,000 jobs.

Orange you grateful we've got good fruit? Unfortunately for growers, greening has become the scourge of the citrus industry. The disease is endemic to the state, affecting all 32 commercial citrus growing counties. And it's killing our juicy fruits.

We got the skinny on this unpleasant illness from the folks at Florida Citrus Mutual, plus some tips on how you can support our state's fruitful efforts.

See also: Florida's Citrus Groves Might Be Wiped Out by Bug First Detected in Broward

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Pompano Beach's Vito Volpe Makes the Best Cheese in South Florida

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Courtesy Mozzarita
A knack for cheese: Vito Volpe.
Some of us seek divinity and some of us stumble across it by accident. We practically crashed into the pearly gates one day when scoping out the North Bay Village Farmer's Market.

Avid cheeselovers, there was no way we were going to leave the market without our discovery -- Mozzarita burrata. Mozzarita has a full line of cheese products handmade in Pompano Beach from local ingredients; other Mozzarita products like prosciutto and olive oil are imported from Italy. The company has come a long way from when it received a nod from the Miami New Times for Best Mozzarella in 2008.

As sure as we were of taking fresh, handmade burrata home, we had no idea that it would be a life-changing experience. Vito Volpe makes the best cheese in South Florida.

So good in fact, that every Friday, we hit the market and buy out whatever's left. Obsession? Try it and you'll understand.

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Locavore Index 2013: How Does Florida Stack Up?

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Since the Alice Waters and Chez Panisse came into the scene in Berkeley in the 1960's, there has been a huge movement to localize our food systems. Obviously, some areas caught on a bit quicker than others.

Some areas do make it easier. Iowa, for example, is pretty much one big farm. Right?

As the top ranking agricultural state in the Southeast you would think Florida would come up fairly high in the ratings.

Apparently, not. Details after the jump.

See Also:
- GMOs to Blame for Decline in Florida Honeybees?
- Andrews Farm: New Urban Farm to Provide Cheap Organic Produce to Fort Lauderdale

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Eat & Drink Local at the Sybarite Pig on Friday

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Sara Ventiera
Ready-to-eat pigs at Palmetto Creek Farms.
In case you're not aware, it's Slow Foods week right now. With that come a number of events focused on locally produced, "slow" food.

While the local chapter Slow Foods Glades to Coast is hosting a number of events and partnerships, some other localcentric events will be going on as well.

This Friday, the Sybarite Pig will host its own Eat & Drink Local with Jim Wood from Palmetto Creek. The dinner will feature local beer and local pig.

See also:
- Slow Foods Week Starts Saturday: Event Schedule
- Palmetto Creek Farms: Real Free-Range Pork From Florida
- Sybarite Pig Opening Soon: Owner Daniel Naumko Talks Beef, Beer, and Why He Chose That Name
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Chef Lauren DeShields on Market 17's Local Sourcing Efforts

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It's no secret that Market 17 is one of the most locavorian, sustainability-savvy restaurants in South Florida. After all, it's not shy about voicing its commitment to responsible dining and local sourcing.

Chef Lauren Shields is a driving force behind these efforts. The Florida-born chef cooked her way around San Francisco for a while -- a city much more on the farm-to-table ups than South Florida. Now she's using her experience to ensure Market 17 stays as local as possible.

"I think it's really important to support the community and especially to support small farmers and local farms. Why would you buy oranges from Mexico or limes from Mexico when you can get them right here in South Florida?"

See also:
Best Broward County Restaurant - Market 17
Market 17 a Finalist in the Nature Conservancy's Contest for Best Green Restaurant

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Five Ways to Score South Florida-Grown Produce

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For more on South Florida's food scene, check out New Times' Taste guide, hitting newsstands Thursday, February 21.

The idea of eating locally grown produce is all well and good, but when it boils down to a busy day, a rumbling stomach, and an empty fridge, it can be tough to make educated, responsible food choices rather than run shamefully into the arms of Papa John.

But there are some easy ways to commit to local produce in Broward and Palm Beach -- eaters just have to know where to look. Making these choices helps fund local farmers and supports a more sustainable future -- not to mention encourages healthy eating habits. A win-win-win. So when it comes to going locavore, here are some simple options:

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Fort Lauderdale Vegetables' Michael Madfis: We Need a Food Policy Council

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Michael Madfis
Like most issues in our labyrinthian modern lives, the concept of eating locally can be a lot more complicated than it looks. From a lack of local farms to dubious sourcing by supermarkets, it can be tough for consumers to make the right decisions, even with the best of intentions behind them.

Michael Madfis, owner of Fort Lauderdale Vegetables and advocate for decentralized farming, thinks that one of the key elements to upping our consumption of locally grown food is to start a Food Policy Council (FPC). An FPC is, essentially, a group of stakeholders from different food-related sectors that examine how the food system is operating and figure out how to improve it. And Madfis thinks South Florida needs one, stat.

See also:
Andrews Farm: New Urban Farm to Provide Cheap Organic Produce in Downtown Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale Urban Farmer Fights Aphids and Apathy on an Empty Lot

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Sunny Garden Isles Community Farm Launches This Weekend in Dania Beach: Free Lunch and Tours Saturday

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Most people probably don't think of Florida as a place with deserts, but if you look closely, they're there.

They run up and down what city planner types call "the transportation corridor." They are the areas immediately surrounding I-95. They are food deserts.

Researchers call them "red zones." They are areas where poverty, lack of food stores, and high rates of diet-related diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity all overlap. They have long been the poorest communities. When I-95 was being built back in the 1970s, these were the communities that lost the NIMBY wars.

Not only did those communities get all the things no one else wanted in their backyards -- from freeways to landfills -- they also never got many of the things one would want.

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Meet Your Local Food Makers at Thousand Pound Egg's Street Party on Saturday

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Courtesy photo
Meet the person behind this local product.

Food nerds and locavores, rejoice. Thousand Pound Egg, a specialty food store in Victoria Park, is hosting a complimentary open house/street party Saturday evening to introduce local gourmands to the blossoming business district on NE 20th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. The gathering also will give shoppers a chance to mingle with a handful of hyperlocal food producers, thereby eliminating the need to get all Portlandia "Is it local?" about things.

See Also:
- South Florida's Best Specialty Food Stores

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Fresh Seafood Markets in Broward and Palm Beach

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There's buying fish from a commercial chain grocery store, and then there's buying fish from a local fish market. If you've ever walked past your local supermarket fish department and gasped for air, you know exactly what I mean.

Especially after recent concerns of area fish fraud and mislabeling, we decided it was time to find a few local fresh seafood markets that would be able to alleviate such concerns.

Here, our list of fresh seafood markets in Broward and Palm Beach counties:

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