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Does cooking local food scare you? Try this

Garnish & Gather does the legwork, lets you focus on making the meal

Maybe you’ve considered signing up for a CSA—a weekly supply of food from a local farm—but are intimidated by the thought of all those vegetables. Or maybe you’ve never learned to cook at all. Or maybe you're just too busy to plan and shop for regular meals at home, especially if they involve trips to farmers markets. If any of those descriptions fit you, the services offered by a new local business might be just the thing to get you cooking.

Garnish & Gather, which launched in June, pulls together everything you need for a locally sourced, sustainably raised entrée and delivers it to your home or a nearby location. Follow the instructions, and you’ll have dinner on in no time—and a new recipe in your repertoire.

The fledgling business is a team effort by Emily Golub and Danielle Moore, who divide the duties of testing recipes, coordinating with farmers, creating labels and instructions galore, and getting the word out to potential clients. They currently coordinate about 50 meals a week.

“There are definitely a lot of barriers for getting into local food, we’re just trying to make it easier,” Moore says. Customers range from busy families to former clients of personal chefs. “They don’t have time to do all the shopping. Or they’ve subscribed to a CSA before and they’ve gotten the box and said, ‘What the heck do I do with all this?’”

Be warned: You will be doing more than just garnishing your meal before gathering the family to eat it. A more accurate, yet less catchy, company name might have been Wash, Chop, Heat, Stir, Garnish, Gather & Clean Up. You might also want to make a salad or slice some bread to serve with the entree. However, it is reassuring to know that everything you need to make the dish is conveniently and attractively assembled for you, and that you are essentially guaranteed success.

A subscription to Garnish & Gather would be an excellent transitional step toward a CSA/farm box subscription. It would also make a great gift for a college student with kitchen access or a young person setting up that first household. More established folks who have gotten out of the habit of cooking, or who never really learned how, may also appreciate it.

Sign up for one to three meals a week, with two or four servings per meal. One meal a week for two people, delivered to one of 15 pickup locations around town, is $35; three meals a week for four people is $180. (Other options fall somewhere in between, and delivery to your home costs extra.) At least one meal per week is vegetarian, and you get to choose your meal or meals from a weekly menu.

No matter which meals you select, you can be assured that you’ll never see them on the menu again. Because the program is not just about the food; it’s also about the experience of local food. With each meal you prepare, you'll learn the names of the farmers who grew the ingredients and the local chef who created the recipe. On the company website you can read about the people who contributed toward your meal and the local organizations that support them.

“You’ll have your recipe card and you can recreate it as many times as you want, but we’re never going to package that for you again,” Moore says. “We want people to get more skill in the kitchen. This is kind of a jumping board into that. Emily always says she really wants people to learn how to go to a farmers market and put a meal together.”