From the tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
Each year, I look forward to spring and the start of a new planting season. Spring is the time of year when we shake off the old and lay the groundwork for new beginnings.
As we head into a new crop season, I am reminded how fortunate we are to have such a great variety of food produced here in the state. We find examples of that abundance and variety at grocery stores, farmers markets and restaurants across the state. Shopping at these businesses is a great way for each of us to support agriculture and the farmers who work hard to put food on our tables.
I hope that everyone who reads my column regularly buys local products. But if local agricultural and food products are not part of your regular shopping routine, I want to challenge you to find and try these products. You will be pleased by the quality and variety of items that are available.
There are many places where you can find North Carolina food and agricultural products, and I encourage you to make this the year to reconnect with your food source.
Here are a few ideas to get you started on your quest.
-- Go shopping at a farmers market. North Carolina has 217 farmers markets across the state, ranking the state 10th nationally.
-- Eat at a restaurant that features locally sourced foods. Many restaurants now are proudly highlighting local foods on the menu, making it easier to support North Carolina agriculture when eating out. Don't know where to start? You can find a list of NCDA&CS award-winning restaurants at www.bestdishnc.com/about.htm. Click on the link to past winners for a partial list of restaurants that feature N.C. products. You can also find some other restaurants by going to flavornc.com/home.html and click on the "Episodes and Recipes" link. A number of restaurants have been featured in the UNC-TV's "Flavor, NC" program.
-- Look for local products in grocery stores and food retailers across the state. Many stores feature a North Carolina section, where local products are grouped. In addition, stores may feature a display with a farmer's photo and a description about his farm during special promotions. Look for the Got to Be NC logo on products. You can also find a list of specialty foods producers and retailers at www.ncagr.gov/markets/specfoods/about.html.
-- Attend the Got to Be NC Festival and visit the Food and Wine Expo. Around 100 North Carolina food and beverage businesses will participate, making it a great place to sample a lot of products in one place. The festival is coming up May 18-20.