Party at the market

If you live in West Raleigh, there’s a small gem on the N.C. State University campus worth braving the parking hassles to visit. A completely student-run farmer’s market sets up on the Brickyard every Wednesday during the spring and fall semesters from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.. And, yes, students came up with the idea. All vendors sell North Carolina-produced items. Besides fresh produce, there is exotic ravioli from the Pasta Wench in Boone, roasted corn cornmeal (it has an interesting smoky flavor) from Carolina Grits & Co. in Rocky Mount and other vendors.

On April 14, the organizers are throwing “Localpalooza,” with food samples, music and information on finding locally produced food.

With NCSU’s agricultural roots, a market makes sense; with the stereotype of student eating (pizza and burgers), it doesn’t. Read about how the market came about in my article here. For information on the market, visit its blog here.

Feast on rare breeds

Endangered breeds of rabbit and pig will be the stars of a menu designed to raise awareness of the need to save these breeds by, yes, eating them. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, along with chefs Scott Crawford of Herons in Raleigh, N.C. and Bret Jennings of Elaine’s on Franklin in Chapel Hill, N.C., will offer “The Lost Art of Last Cuts,” a cooking demo and luncheon featuring sheep and rabbit. The Nov. 13 event, which will be held at Herons at the Umstead Hotel in Raleigh, N.C., will use three breeds of rare rabbit and Hog Island sheep.

The ALBC, located in Pittsboro, N.C., works to promote endangered breeds of cows, pigs and other livestock in order to retain genetic diversity in our food supply. Why is this important? If all farmers are raising the exact same breed of chicken or rabbit, then disease could easily wipe them out. Also, in many cases, the meat of the older breeds is more tasty.

The cost is $125. Register and get more information here.

CSA in May

It’s community-supported agriculture time again! I’m glad to see more farms and more folks participating. I know that money is tight for many people right now, but investing in local growers pays off in the long run. Please consider it. You’ll also get sustainably produced vegetables with flavor that will lure even those who run from green things.

It’s too late to sign up for most CSA farms – they typically offer shares in January or February for the vegetables you’ll receive through the growing season. But the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association has a good list of local farms, farmers markets and CSA opportunities.

And the lettuce I received this week tastes like nothing I can find at a megamarket. It’s the sweetness and delicacy of spring, and it lasts so short a time. The ruffled leaves taste like rain, to me – the refreshing kind of spring rain on new grass. With a lively crunch that makes eating a salad for lunch feel not at all like the deprivation of dieting.

To come: Greens and spinach. Olive oil and garlic. Couldn’t be easier.