Friday, March 05, 2021

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Last Wednesday the Lake Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for a business expansion at Warren FoodWorks, our locally-sourced ingredient café in downtown Warrenton at 108 S. Main Street.

Business expansion means economic development. Economic development doesn’t always come in the form of big boxes like national retailers and industries. Oftentimes, economic development takes the form of small (and tasty) packages.

What was that business expansion, you ask? You can now not only enjoy meals and desserts made from fresh, local ingredients while at Warren FoodWorks, but with the addition of cooler/freezer space, you can take items home with you to enjoy later.

One of the most exciting elements this addition brings is locally-raised beef and pork products. Warren FoodWorks, and their parent organization Working Landscapes, is creating the supply chain to connect local farmers directly to consumers. Visit Warren FoodWorks and peruse their selection of a variety of cuts of beef, as well as items such as fresh, local sausage. I cooked the sausage I purchased over the weekend, and it was absolutely delicious! I can’t wait to stop by again soon and choose some beef.

They also offer pre-made dinners. I purchased the “unstuffed” peppers, a casserole of rice, local green peppers and tomatoes. I work a lot of late evenings and have a hungry family waiting at home, so this new FoodWorks feature is fantastic. I just popped the frozen casserole in the oven and had a delicious dinner an hour or so later. The cooler also offers eggs from local free-range chickens, and such tasty treats as egg salad and pimiento cheese. If you want delicious baked goods or beverages, Warren FoodWorks has you covered there too. There were some absolutely amazing lemon shortbread cookies, topped with a light glaze and fresh lemon zest. Though I didn’t try them, I saw some beautiful scones on display, and I look forward to scooping some of those up on my next trip. Also available at FoodWorks are local craft beers and wines.

Warren FoodWorks is all about celebrating what is unique to Warren County and the surrounding area. This philosophy spills over into their choice for events as well. They host Trivia Night at the café every Thursday, and on the weekends, you can enjoy such things as First Friday Open Mic Poetry Night, local musicians, and karaoke.

The great strides being made by Working Landscapes and Warren FoodWorks are not going unnoticed. A meeting was held last Monday in Halifax County to talk about the concept of Farm to Fork and the possibility of creating a local foods council, and Gabe Cumming, co-founder of Working Landscapes and Warren FoodWorks was there to offer valuable input. Representatives from nearly every aspect of the local foods supply chain were present including agriculture, farmers’ market, health industry, schools, local shops offering produce, restaurants endeavoring to use local products, non-profits working with local businesses, Chambers of Commerce, the community college, and many more!

It is a very interesting and wonderful shift that is taking place in the mindset of Americans. Whereas, once upon a time, we really did not care where the items we purchased were manufactured, now many of us intentionally seek out items made in the USA and place a higher value on these products. More than just being made in the USA, people seek out local foods and local handmade products when traveling or shopping. I like to follow the Facebook page of the Made in America Movement. Like them on Facebook and check out the website at www.themadeinamericamovement.com. I can’t stress the importance of shopping locally for goods and services and supporting our local businesses. It is even more wonderful when we can purchase American-made and locally-made products from our locally-owned businesses. It is a practice that I am trying to make into habit. I hope you’ll join me in so doing.

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