Local Flavor, Local Harvest

I always try to eat local.  I love finding local restaurants because the food just seems so much better and so fresh.  I guess that is because it truly is!  Plus I love when people come to visit and I can take them somewhere they have never been.  I enjoy finding the farmer’s market in my area and checking out what they have to offer.  You can find so many different veggies, produce, and other items to try.  Especially in the Spring, it is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  Shopping at local markets helps you to shop seasonally which is also great, because you know your food has the most nutrients and hasn’t traveled for days to reach you.

A great website to find your local market is localharvest.org.  Local harvest not only helps you find your local market, but you can also find other local businesses that use local food, such as restaurants, grocery stores, Co-ops, etc.  The site is great, especially if you are moving to a new area and don’t know much about the local scene.  I always check out local harvest when I get to new places and find the closest market to me.

Another great thing I found through local harvest was CSA groups.  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  CSAs are a great way to get fresh, local food on a regular basis and support area farmers.  Previously, I lived in Raleigh and I was a part of two awesome CSAs.  One CSA was fruits and veggies and the other offered chicken and eggs.  For regular market goers, CSAs are a great way to save a little money as well.  Usually the prices of the items you purchase are much cheaper than if you would purchase the same items in the market.

Here is how a CSA works.  First you can look on local harvest (or other local food sites) and find a CSA that has a drop off/pick up close to you.  You can also compare pricing.  Some CSAs offer half and full-shares, others only offer full shares.  Some offer meats, breads, eggs, and other items and others only offer fruits and vegetables, so you really have to decide what you are looking to buy.  You can contact the farms or organizations to find out more about how their CSA works.  They usually end up being about $15-$20/week for fruits and vegetables and more if you add meats, dairy, breads, etc. and the size of your share tells you how many people it will feed.  Usually the CSA season runs for several weeks and your CSA will have a designated pick up day and location.  You pay for your share before the season begins and some farmers will let you split up your payments.  The type of pick up you have will depend on your farmer and organization.  Some places will have you select your items when you arrive at the pick up location and some will have a box prepared for you with all your items for the week.

I loved the CSAs I worked with in Raleigh because the farmers were very friendly and the farmer that I received produce from always shared recipes and information with the group which was great.  Not only are CSAs great for you, they are great for the farmer because it gives them more stability during the season because they know they have a designated amount of money guaranteed to come in to purchase supplies and support their farm…hence the name Community Supported Agriculture. 🙂

So I decided to share this post now because now is the time to begin looking for your CSAs for the Spring.  I plan to join one this year.  I have been researching my area since I have recently moved and I hope to share more about my yummy local food in the future.  Until then here is a recipe for Bok Choy…a veggie I would have never tried without joining my CSA.  Another great perk of CSAs is that you will be introduced to new and different foods, which I think is great!  

Bok Choy (or Tat Soi) Stir Fry
Bok Choy Stir Fry


(Makes 4 servings)

2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp water
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 bunch bok choy or tat soi
4 green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped peanuts
Rice (amount and type are up to you)

1. In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, water and sugar; set aside.
2. Cut bok choy ribs and leaves crosswise into 2-inch pieces.
3. In a wok or large, deep skillet, heat canola and sesame oils over medium-high heat. Add bok choy (or tat soi), green onions, garlic, soy sauce mixture and pepper flakes to taste. Stir-fry just until bok choy (or tat soi) is wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in peanuts and serve immediately over steamed rice.

I made this recipe with a little chicken in the picture, but I have also made it as listed, with no meat, and with tofu.  Any way you cook it…it is great! 🙂

Until next time…enjoy your local flavor ❤ Kia Elise 02.08.13

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