NOLA Locavores was started by Dr. Leslie Brown, (founder of NOLA Veggie Fest), Linda Michurski, (restaurant sales for Hollygrove Market & Farm) and Lee Stafford (founder of Euterpe Recycling Center). The group’s goal is to help New Orleanians develop closer ties to the sources of our food. Starting on June 1, the group is sponsoring the Eat Local Challenge to raise awareness of the nutritional, environmental and economic benefits of eating locally produced foodstuffs. The challenge consists of a number of contests, including the “100% local 100% Rouses recipe challenge,” in which participants must create recipes using ingredients that are purchased at Rouses and are 100-percent locally produced. The prize is a case of wine from Ponchartrain Vineyards.

Similarly, the Crescent City Farmers Market, above, is co-sponsoring a recipe contest in which participants must prepare dishes only from products purchased at the market, and Hollygrove Market and Farm’s contest involves only ingredients from the market’s weekly produce box.

The main event, however, requires participants to subsist for the month of June on local provender. There are three levels, of which the Ultrastrict is the most difficult, requiring participants to subsist entirely on products grown or caught within 200 miles. Participants in the Bienville challenge are allowed to use dried spices and salt from elsewhere. The least restrictive challenge, the Wild Card, allows participants to use coffee, sugar, chocolate or any other ingredients they feel incapable of surviving without.

The goal, again, is to encourage people to learn what’s available locally, and to that end people taking part are asked to cooperate on message boards to suggest local sources for hard to find ingredients or products. While I’ll probably veer more towards the Wild Card end of the spectrum during June, the concept is a good one and I hope a lot of folks participate. Check out the Eat Local Challenge website, at to learn more.

One good source for local products may be the Louisiana Seafood Festival, below, held on June 11 and 12 at the New Orleans U.S. Mint, adjacent to the French Market. Celebrating the role played by seafood in New Orleans’ culture, the festival features local restaurants, musicians and craftsmen. At the same time, and within the same eight blocks, the French Market Creole Tomato Festival and the Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Fest will be taking place.

Should be a full weekend.

Morton’s the Steakhouse (365 Canal St.) has renovated its main dining room to add windows that look onto Canal Street. The restaurant’s bar has also been expanded and now offers additional seating at booths and high-top tables. The Chicago-based steak house chain serves lunch on Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., dinner from 5 to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and until 10 p.m. on Sunday. Call 566-0221 for more information.

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