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Fresh Heated Food at Farmers Markets to Stay

25 March 2010 2,591 views 17 Comments

Today I attended my first Austin City Council Meeting. Why?

To register my support of our local food community and the small business owners, chefs, farmers, and artisans that feed our bodies and souls.

Below, my friend, fellow blogger, book club member, and community relations coordinator for the Sustainable Food Center, Susan Leibrock, demonstrates how to officially register our support. A total of 43 citizens voted to express their support of allowing hot food to be served at the markets — pretty impressive given that each of these folks took time out of their day to show up in person over the past few days and vote. For more information on the process, check out Susan’s blog, Cake Austin.

Susan Leibrock of the Sustainable Food Center shows Glenn Foore of Springdale Farm how to register his vote.

Susan Leibrock of the Sustainable Food Center shows Glenn Foore of Springdale Farm how to register his vote.

After a local pastor opened the meeting with a prayer for the community that was very nice other than the fact that J.C. was mentioned (guess we don’t do the ‘ole separation of church and state here in Texas), Mayor Leffingwell called on Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due to speak in favor of resolution #54, asking the city manager and staff to seek other examples of how cooked food is served at farmers markets in cities across the state and country and come up with a solution.

Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due walks to his seat after speaking in support of serving hot food at Austin farmers markets.

Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due walks to his seat after speaking in support of serving hot food at Austin farmers markets.

Jesse spoke clearly and eloquently about Dai Due’s history in Austin. Jesse and his wife Tamara started the business four years ago to offer 100% locally sourced coursed meals. He talked about recently opening a booth at the farmers markets to sell their prepared foods and offer hot food on site to order. He addressed the mayor directly:

“I believe the mayor had a hot sausage that I hope you liked.”

Everyone chuckled as Mayor Leffingwell acknowledged this. Jesse went on to note that Dai Due will lose seventy percent of their business and dramatically cut the amount of local food they can purchase if an ordinance isn’t passed to allow hot food to be served at the markets. He cited Houston and San Antonio as other Texas cities who have made it possible to do so.

City Hall was standing room only this morning.

City Hall was standing room only this morning.

As of April 1, vendors can no longer draw permits to serve hot food at the markets and Jesse talked of his willingness to work closely with the health department to bring hot food back to the market as soon as possible.

Austin City Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez added to Jesse’s argument, noting that the farmers market is a great way to spend a weekend morning and that the city council will take action as soon as they can to fix this issue.

Austin City Hall Rendering on ticket and free public parking.

Austin City Hall Rendering on ticket and free public parking.

Other great local foodies who came out to support Jesse and other farmers market vendors included Christian of Austin Food Journal, Valerie Broussard of Slow Food Austin, Susan Santos of the Sustainable Food Center, Todd Duplechan of the Four Seasons, and many more.

  • Tracy

    I was there and am a little confused by the conclusion of this report- I thought the outcome was that the issue would be looked at & was likely to be a positive result after work with the health department. I think it is jumping the gun to say that hot food is to stay at this point.
    Jesse did a wonderful job and lots of great support!

  • Mary

    I enjoy your blog but was I was a little put off when I read your comment about “guess we don't do separation of church and state in Texas”. Austin and Texas (for that matter) are so steeped in political correctness all the time. Can't you forgive one mention of Jesus Christ in a prayer? You mention your religion in your blog and I enjoy it and I am not Jewish. Come on, lighten up just a bit.

  • jodibart

    Hi Tracy – You are correct that this is just a step and since the rules about hot food go into effect next week — that might mean no hot food at the farmers markets for a couple of weeks — and during a crucial time of year when the weather is perfect and the people and farmers are out at the markets in throngs.

    From Addie Broyles and Mike Sutter's reporting (Austin American-Statesman), it sounds like there will be new rules in place allowing hot food to be sold again at the markets by the end of April. Hope that happens!

    Link: http://www.austin360.com/blogs/content/shared-g

    Excerpt: UPDATE: At Thursday’s city council meeting, council members addressed the issue of hot food being served at farmers market. More than 40 people showed up to support changes to the city code that would allow hot food to be served weekly at local markets. Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due Supper Club, who has been serving sausage and biscuits at the market for several months, also spoke to the council and mayor Lee Leffingwell. Council members voiced their support of finding a way for farmers market vendors to serve food cooked on site and instructed city staff to come up with proposed changes to the code by April 22.

  • jodibart

    Hi Mary – I'm so sorry to have offended you. I totally respect everyone's right to their own religious views and practice and have visited churches and religious meetings many times in my life where Jesus Christ is mentioned numerous times and I expect and have no problem with that. Thank you also for reading my blog and for your interest in mentions of my religion. As I hope you would agree, talking about religion in a personal blog and praying in a public city council meeting are two very different things.

    It was jarring and surprising for me to hear it in a city council meeting in the Austin City Hall. As I'm sure you know, the first amendment to our constitution — the separation of church and state is meant to keep government and religious institutions separate from each other. This applies to local government as well.

    Religious prayer belongs in houses of worship, private meetings, and in the home. Talking about religious beliefs and practices with friends, family, and on a personal blog is wonderful and is completely supported by this separation of church and state.

    It's when prayer is introduced into our schools and government — two areas that are supposed to serve and represent those of all religious faiths — and the line between church and state becomes dangerously blurred. And I would feel this way even if it was my religion that was being practiced in these public settings.

  • foodporncess

    Thanks for addressing the issue of separation of church and state Jodi. I agree with you 100%, it's jarring to hear that in a city council meeting for sure. According to the Constitution, it shouldn't happen.

    It makes me laugh that so many people want to use the Constitution to back their views (2nd Amendment rights, Health Care Reform), but when it comes to interpreting it in a way that doesn't agree with them, they decide that we're too politically correct (that's not directed specifically to the person who posted).

    Irony, it's what's for breakfast!

  • http://www.tipsytexan.com/ Tex

    There is a monumental difference between endorsing religion in a private blog and in a city council meeting. The first is an exercise of the first amendment, the latter is a violation of it. If we forgive one mention of Jesus in a prayer, do we forgive two? How many violations do we allow? What is the acceptable number of times an individual should have another person's religious views flaunted, in a secular setting where we have not consented to being exposed to these views? Would we allow another such religious invocation, perhaps mentioning sharia or some other belief that is a little less common in these parts, regardless of how it offends our sensibilities? It is not a matter of political correctness or “lightening up.” It is a matter of the Constitution's provision for freedom OF religion in private and religious spaces, and freedom FROM religion in public, secular spaces, such as City Hall.

  • Steve

    Jodi,

    I took your comment that folks don't recognize the distinction between church 'n state in texas in the spirit in which it was offered and found it amusing. Also, as a native Texas, I think I have the right to say that your comment is amusing, sad, and true, all at the same time. I found your response to Mary be both civil and well-reasoned. The distinction you make between a private blog and an officially sanctioned city council meeting is the critical distinction. Ya shoulda been a lawyer!!

  • jodibart

    Thanks for your support, David.

  • jodibart

    I'd so much rather have Jesse's biscuits and gravy for breakfast though. Wouldn't you, Jaye?!

  • jodibart

    Thank you so much, Steve. Being a food blogger is way more fun than being a lawyer though. Less compensation of course. And one does not preclude the other. ;-)

  • jodibart

    Thanks for your support, David.

  • jodibart

    I'd so much rather have Jesse's biscuits and gravy for breakfast though. Wouldn't you, Jaye?!

  • jodibart

    Thank you so much, Steve. Being a food blogger is way more fun than being a lawyer though. Less compensation of course. And one does not preclude the other. ;-)

  • MrMay

    I know this is an old blog, but just came across it and HAD to correct you.  Not sure how left of the political spectrum you fall, but seeing you spew your fallacies about the 1st amendment and separation of church and state made my blood boil and I had to correct you (so that you can learn and grow and a citizen of our great country). 

    The First Amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” and NOWHERE in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Amendments is there the phrase “separation of church and state.”  In fact, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and even our currency mentions God/Our Lord/The Creator. What the government can not do is force us to be members of any religion (“establish” a religion such as England's Kings were doing in creating The Church of England), evident in Article VI of the Constitution “…but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

    However, government officials are perfectly free to pray during any government meeting (civil, state, or federal), and to say otherwise is to deny them of their 1st amendment freedom. And that's not to say their prayer must be directed toward God or Jesus, it can be Jehovah or Allah, or whomever they pray to. What officials can not do (and the idea behind the Supreme Court banning prayer in schools, but not banning student lead prayer in places such as football games or  graduation), is dictate to the person praying whom they must pray to, or direct someone to even pray.

    I'm sure this is the argument you've heard from others, but thank you from reading and taking it to heart.

  • jodibart

    I did read up on the law and you are right, Mr. May. Thanks for clarifying this for me. However, it still makes me personally uncomfortable when any kind of religion is practiced in a government meeting or by an elected leader.

  • jodibart

    I did read up on the law and you are right, Mr. May. Thanks for clarifying this for me. However, it still makes me personally uncomfortable when any kind of religion is practiced in a government meeting or by an elected leader.

  • jodibart

    I did read up on the law and you are right, Mr. May. Thanks for clarifying this for me. However, it still makes me personally uncomfortable when any kind of religion is practiced in a government meeting or by an elected leader.