Recent Articles About Local Eats

Your morning tea—Matcha, Darjeeling, English Breakfast—most likely comes from far away. While there are a few dozen tea growers in the United States, the harvested leaves, many of which come from an evergreen shrub called Camellia sinensis, are not native to this country.

But over the last few years, a wild-growing, indigenous plant that is both drought resistant and blessedly caffeinated has been rediscovered in the American South. It’s called yaupon, and a number of businesses striving for social and environmental sustainability have cropped up around it.

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Food is central to the Gullah way of life. For over 250 years, distinctive places along the Eastern edge of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida have maintained a culture called Gullah or Geechee. The families living in these seaside towns and on the barrier islands off the coast practice traditions that are linked to West Africa through language, religion and the arts.

Customs that traveled the Trans-Atlantic slave trade are still present in those living in the area, agricultural traditions remain strong, and many African-American lowcountry kitchen tables remain covered with sweetgrass baskets, shellfish, bottom feeder fish, legumes, Carolina rice, and backyard vegetables. Read more

If you haven’t been to a dinner, a wedding, or a wine-tasting on a farm lately, you’ve probably seen photos of one. It’s a familiar scene: attractive hipsters sit under a picturesque grape arbor watching the setting sun while sipping rosé and dining on fresh ingredients picked from fields just a few hundred feet away. Even better, these events often have the appearance of a social mission; they’re designed to promote an appreciation of good, local food that has been grown with care and thoughtfully prepared.

But the narrative constructed at this type of event isn’t real—not by a long shot. Read more

Picture thousands of pounds of local, seasonal produce traveling by truck to a centralized location in New York City every day. Once there, the fruits and vegetables from upstate farms will get refrigerated, packed, and processed before being distributed to stores and institutions all across the five boroughs.

This is the vision behind the highly anticipated food hub that New York State governor Andrew Cuomo announced he was allocating $15 million toward building last month. The state-of-the-art hub is planned for the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx, an area with a complex history of aggregating the city’s food.

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In the United States, kale has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years as consumers have discovered they enjoy the nutrient-dense green in many forms—stir-fried, in salads, in smoothies, even baked or fried into chips. Alain Cuerrier, botanist and adjunct professor in the University of Montreal’s biological sciences department, says we in the U.S. and Canada live among an under-tapped wealth of nutrients. Although kale is currently enjoying the spotlight, many other rock-star fruits and veggies—which are bursting with nutrients and, unlike kale, are native to this continent—deserve attention as well. Read more

Farm teams are a fixture of the baseball world. But perhaps only in Fresno, California, home of the minor league team the Fresno Grizzlies, has the notion of a farm team been taken so literally.

At the Grizzlies’ Chukchansi Park downtown, the churros, cotton candy, and other junk food that define America’s pastime have been joined by Farm Grown Fridays, a farmers’ market set up at Friday home games that includes a roving “Mr. Pistachio” handing out locally grown nuts while posing for selfies. Read more

When local cucumbers crop up in your grocery aisle and local strawberries find their way into your kid’s cafeteria, you might just have a food hub to thank.

These out-of-sight aggregators connect local growers to regional markets around the country and their explosive numbers mirror the growth of the larger local food craze. In fact, the number of food hubs has doubled over the past eight years, to more than 350 across the country. Read more

Until recently, Vermont dairy farmer Jack Lazor has been an enthusiastic grain famer. The owner of Butterworks Farm, Lazor spent years growing grains—for animals and people—and then wrote a conversational and encyclopedic guide on grain growing in the Northeast The Organic Grain Grower. In person and on the page, the affable man offers advice on tools and practices for grain growing, harvest, and storage. Read more

At Market Table Bistro in Lovestville, Virginia, you can order a sustainable, pasture-raised cheeseburger with sautéed onions, herb mayo, cheese, and bacon for $14. At the nearby fast-casual Elevation Burger in Ashburn, Virginia, the standard two-patty organic grassfed burger will set you back about $7. Travel to the closest Hardee’s, in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and the double all-natural grassfed burger there will cost you approximately $6.49 or about $4.89 for a single.

The demand for grassfed beef is growing by at least 20 percent a year in the U.S. and the number of restaurants and burger chains serving grassfed and pasture-raised burgers is also growing rapidly. But just how they define and verify the practices behind those terms can be murky business. (We covered some of that here). While some sustainable food advocates find the growth of the entire grassfed industry to be a heartening sign of shifting mass market demand, the grassfed burger market may be growing so quickly that it’s undermining some of the original intention behind the shift. Read more