Our Christmas stocking: keg beer, WIC woes and our new tshirts!

Market today! Free tshirts! Delicious local food!

Our Christmas stocking: keg beer, WIC woes and our new tshirts!
Food as a Verb 2023-24 tshirts

Today at 4pm, Food as a Verb will be guest vending at the Main St. Farmers' Holiday Market until 5.30 pm in the parking lot adjacent to Finley Stadium.

Dozens of farmers, bakers and brewers will be there, offering 100s of items: sourdough bread, Passionfruit Mojito Oxymel, red wattle pork and ground beef, chevre and kefir, candy roaster squash, spinach, arugula, popcorn, pies, cherry tomatoes (in December!), nut butters and ... reindeer balls. (Come see for yourself.)

We'll be giving away our inaugural, historic, kickass, super-cozy t-shirts while supplies last. You need three things:

  • Canned goods and/or financial donation to the Chattanooga Area Food Bank.
  • Buy produce from at least one market farmer.
  • Subscribe to Food as a Verb and nudge three or four other friends to, as well.

Our friends from Midway Mushrooms will be there, too. They were the subject of Sunday's feature, which began with an origin story on the birth of Midway. Regrettably, we'd already gone to press when we got wind of a few more details about the Halloween night that started it all. For the sake of full disclosure, we share them today.

After all, any story that begins with the following line is bound to be good.

"I'd gotten a keg of some shitty beer," Pledger Shaefer begins.

Food as a Verb thanks our newest sustaining partner, Divine Goods, for their generous support.

Female-and-locally owned, Divine Goods offers beautifully curated gifts for every occasion. Be divine and send someone special a Divine Goods gift - locally sourced when possible, and always thoughtful.

It was Halloween 2020. Shaefer threw a party. Correction: an alliterative party.

"Alliteration was a stated theme, so I was 'Sea Shell Schaefer' with a scrapped-together scallop shell bra," Shaefer begins.

Shaefer sat down with good friends Daniel Fortner and Adam Hobbs, dressed as a cowboy.

"With a real revolver with the cylinder removed," he added.

A ghost pepper appeared. Ranked on the Scoville scale, which measures heat, a regular jalapeno ranks between 2,500 - 8,000 Scoville units.

Ghost peppers? Around one million.

Hobbs took a bite.

"He vomited," Shaefer remembers.

The rest is history. At some point that night, the three commit to their plan for Midway Mushrooms; Hobbs cold-calls on some property the next day and by January, they'd opened Midway Mushrooms.

Scallop shell bras aside, the three are growing fascinatingly delicious mushrooms – oyster, shiitake, lion's mane, speckled chestnut – while building a sustainable farm and rich friendship.

Daniel Fortner, Adam Hobbs, Midway Mushrooms, Sewanee, Tennessee

  • For the past few weeks, we've been researching Women, Infant's and Children (WIC) usage. WIC is a federal program distributed through states that offers nutritional supplements for pregnant women, mothers and their children. Milk, eggs, cereals, bread, fruit, vegetables and more can all be purchased through WIC participation.

Nationally, though, WIC usage is down.

In Tennessee? In Hamilton County?

Getting these answers has become laughably difficult. The state didn't answer or return my call. The county health department – first contacted on Dec. 5 – has yet to formally respond.

Thankfully, Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) in Nashville has been most helpful, providing state-wide numbers on WIC usage over the last year.

WIC use, Tennessee

"There are a few possible reason for why TN’s numbers are on the rise," explained Signe Anderson, TJC's senior director of nutrition advocacy. "During the pandemic, WIC made it possible for participants to apply for WIC over the phone and receive services remotely. Transportation is an often reported barrier for many families in Tennessee and being able to apply and connect over the phone makes it easier for many families to participate."

However, Anderson says that many eligible families are still not being helped.

"Lack of information and misinformation is a barrier that WIC faces. Not enough people know about the program and many eligible people don’t realize they are eligible. Also the different TN government entities are often siloed and could be taking easy steps to connect eligible people to WIC," Anderson said.

More on that in a future column.

Food as a Verb thanks the Chattanooga Area Food Bank for its profoundly important work reducing regional hunger.

The Chattanooga Area Food Bank believes that no one should go hungry, and through our network of over 250 hunger-relief partners, we provide equitable access to food and resources to end hunger today and build pathways for a healthy, hunger-free future tomorrow.

Food as a Verb continues to seek out a basic answer to a basic question:

What are WIC usage rates in Hamilton County?

Since the health department has yet to formally respond, earlier this week, I submitted an open records request for the simplest of information.

Around the same time, Anderson and TJC got a call from a Hamilton County mom trying to apply for WIC. The reported wait time is three weeks to a full month for an in-person appointment.

  • This Sunday, we're humbled to share a story that feels very precious and sacred to us: one local couple, baking their own communion bread, serving it on Christmas Eve.

We wish you – our friends and readers – the merriest Christmas.

Communion bread, Red Bank, Tennessee

All photography by Sarah Unger. Visit SarahCatherinePhoto.com

Story ideas? Interested in sponsorship opportunities + supporting our work? Feedback or questions? Email David Cook at david@foodasaverb.com. This story is 100% human generated; no AI chatbot was used in the creation of this content.

Food as a Verb thanks our sustaining partners for their generous support.

Regional Farmers Markets

  • Main St. Farmers Market, Corner of W. 20th and Chestnut St., near Finley Stadium

Wednesday, 4 - 6pm (Note: the Thanksgiving week market was held on Tuesday.)

  • Brainerd Farmers Market, Grace Episcopal Church, 20 Belvoir Ave,

Saturday, 10am - noon

  • Chattanooga Market, 1820 Carter Street

Sunday, 11am - 4pm

  • Ooltewah Farmers Market, The Ooltewah Nursery

Thursday, 3 - 6pm 

  • Signal Mountain Farmers Market

Pre-order online for Thursday pick-up between 4 - 6pm at Bachman Community Center

  • St. Albans Farmers Market, 7514 Hixson Pike

Saturday, 9.30am - 12.30pm with a free pancake breakfast every third Saturday  

  • Walker County Farmers Market

Wednesday, 2 - 5 pm, Rock Spring Ag. Center 

Saturday, 9 am - 1 pm, downtown Lafayette, Georgia

To include your farmers market, email david@foodasaverb.com

Dig in. (It's free)