>> Friday, April 24, 2009
I recently discovered in a round about way that my friend Aimee is a wealth of knowledge about finding local foods in the Triangle. We were discussing coupons (she's also an expert coupon clipper), and she mentioned that she wasn't buying meat from the grocery store because her family bought a share of a cow last year.
"That's awesome! Where did you find that?" I asked because even though I'm a vegetarian, I have a family who enjoys meat on occasion.
She directed me to the website eatwild.com, where you can search a directory for local pasture-raised beef, pork, poultry, and more. Then, a few days later, she emailed me a detailed list of pastured beef farmers in the area. A few days after that, I saw her at the farmer's market, and a few days after that, she emailed the women at my church about a local source for wheat.
By this time, I was intrigued, so I asked her if she would email me everything she knows. Here's her wonderfully detailed reply:
Erin, I am really new to local eating. I am usually all about convenience. Sometimes eating local is convenient, but sometimes it is not. I really started researching local options for adding to my food storage because it is so expensive to order from food storage places out west. I really didn't want to pay shipping costs on a year supply of food. What I have found in the process of trying to save on shipping, are some really high quality, natural products that taste better than anything else I have tried.
I am concerned about the junk in mass produced meat, as well as the poor quality and taste. That, and the desire to store three months worth of food, led me on the quest to find local, healthy beef. Having visited China and seen first hand the way food is handled, I became very concerned after reading articles about fish and shrimp being imported from China. I thought I was buying local fish for freshness, but I have made double sure by checking with my favorite fish market.
Even though I have seen some benefits to local eating, I have not changed my whole way of life to eat local. I slowly continue to find products that I like, that are not too expensive, and as local as possible. I will not pay more just to eat local, unless the product is outstanding. I also weigh convenience heavily. I cannot drive from Fuquay to the Farmers Market every week, but I do a few times a year. I can drive to Yanceyville once a year to buy beef and stock my freezer.
I found the wheat by accident because I had investigated where to buy local meat in bulk and happened to get an email from the farmer saying he was growing wheat.
This is the website where I found a list of NC grassfed beef farmers. http://www.eatwild.com/products/nocarolina.html
I have tried beef from Baucom's Best (very good but more expensive and a long waiting list), Baldwin's Beef (very good - this is the beef we purchased), Hogan's Beef (the Chapel Hill farmer with wheat) [www.hogansbeef.com], and one more that is just over the border in VA - can't remember the name because we didn't like the meat. :)
Besides beef and wheat, the only other thing that I consistently buy local is grits and some other products from a mill in Greensboro. Not sure if that is local enough for you. :) Here is the link to that mill. http://www.oldmillofguilford.com/ They have the BEST grits I have ever tried. I have converted grits haters to grits lovers with these grits. :) The mill processes the grains as you order them, so the products are fresh and so they don't have to be treated with pesticides to keep the critters out of stored grains. I also love their sweet potato muffin mix.
I think I mentioned seafood and did not include info. I buy fresh shrimp in bulk the day it is caught from some guys we found on Craig's list. They drive to the coast, fish all night, and drive back to Raleigh with their catch several times during the shrimp season. It is FRESH, and cheaper than any store. I buy 50 lbs or more at a time and freeze it. I buy other kinds of fish only from Earp's Seafood on 401 (South Saunders St.) in Raleigh. If their fish is not caught in NC, is at least caught on the east coast.
One other resource I have not used successfully yet, is a locavore website you can use to find products in your area. The link is http://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/
What I love about this email is Aimee's attitude about eating local. She recognizes many benefits of local foods, but she's also rational about fitting it into her lifestyle. And she chooses to eat local foods when they are delicious and affordable, rather than choosing certain foods just for the sake of eating local. I think her attitude is worth emulating and I'm very grateful for her help and information.
If you live in the Triangle area and know any great sources for local foods, add them to the comments. Aimee would appreciate some good local sources for poultry!