I recently started thinking about how to bring more awareness to people making a positive difference in our food scene, who may not get the coverage and fanfare of the usual establishments. Beyond just restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and breweries, there are some really great people doing wonderful food-related things in our area that you may not know about. Here’s a little glimpse into some of the names and places you should know.
Full Circle Farm
20997 174th Street, Live Oak, FL
Family owned and operated for almost 15 years now, Full Circle Farm produces top quality meats and meat byproducts. The cows here are all grass fed and allowed to roam happily on their acreage. Pigs are allowed to roam the land as well, routinely moved between the forest and pastures, and forest-fed. It’s an attitude of “happy animals produce delicious meat.” As a result, the team there produces some of the best pork and beef products I’ve ever had. It’s no secret why some of the high end restaurants in our area source their meat from them. A wide array of products are available on their website and can be picked up at several locations around town, make sure you don’t miss their butter, cream, and pork products.
Sweetwater Organic Coffee Company
1331 S Main Street, Gainesville, FL
While there are a handful of coffee roasters in town, Sweetwater is arguably the best and the most successful. Their coffee is all roasted in micro-batches using USDA-certified organic, high-altitude and shade grown beans that are fair-trade. A member of a collective with some of the best roasters in the country, Sweetwater works directly with farmers to source the best and freshest beans for their coffees. The quality shows in the final product. I try to start every morning off with a cup of their coffee. Visit their shop on South Main Street to purchase just-roasted bags of their coffee along with any accessories you may need. They’ll even happily show you around their operations.
17603 NW 276th Lane, Alachua, FL
Just north of Gainesville is Swallowtail Farm, a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm where membership will get you a weekly bag full of fresh veggies, herbs, and flowers picked from their fields. You’ll also receive a newsletter with recipes and updates on the farm. All of the food grown here is done so without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides touching it. In addition to produce, Swallowtail also offers pastured eggs, and are raising heritage pigs that are fed an organic grain diet. The farm is also known to host a regular lineup of events, including a Farm-to-Table dinner series featuring a rotating roster of local chefs.
Saporito Oil & Vinegar
4401 NW 25 Place, Gainesville, FL
Hidden away between the old 43rd Street Deli and Ichiban Sushi off 43rd Street is Saporito Oil & Vinegar. With over two dozen different selections of high quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars, customers can sample and pour from containers throughout the storefront, or choose pre-packaged bottles. Flavors like white truffle, blood orange, and chipotle are available. It’s all high quality oils sourced from California by husband and wife team Keith and Katrine Dunn. You’ll find them at the shop, sometimes with help from their seven children! It’s the perfect place to stop after getting fresh bread from Uppercrust Bakery across the street.
Cypress Point Creamery
18825 SE 24 Ave, Hawthorne, FL
In nearby Hawthorne is a company you may already be familiar with if you visit local farmers’ markets. Cypress Point Creamery produces high quality milk along with a variety of cheeses made from their own cows. Gouda, havarti, and baby swiss are just some of the varieties of their cheeses, which are all made and aged just 15 miles northeast of Gainesville. Currently, Cypress Point maintains a herd of over 170 Jersey cows! While the farm has been operating since 1961, the team didn’t start producing cheeses until 2010. The word is getting out quickly too, with chefs from all over Florida seeking out their product.