Eatin’ in Season

How do you find authentically local food? Now that "local" has become a buzz word, sometimes indiscriminately slapped on products by advertisers, this is a question you have to ask. It's a question that Eatin' in Season hopes to help you answer.

One way to identify authentically local food is to look for the "Appalachian Grown" brand. Farms get certified through Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project's program so you'll know they are real, local, family farms. And businesses, restaurants and grocers get certified so you know they truly buy local products. (ASAP, a nonprofit organization, provides the certification for free.) We'll be profiling some Appalachian-grown certified family farmers who supply area businesses. Look for the brand when you're shopping, dining out and in the pages of the Xpress Eats & Drinks guide.

Another way to know you're getting authentically local food is to shop at local tailgate markets. Many of the markets in this region are producer-only markets, which means that vendors can only sell the food that they produce themselves. At producer-only markets, you can meet the farmer, ask about the farm and truly connect with your food and learn where it comes from. Tailgate farmers markets begin opening this month. We've provided a listing of market locations in Buncombe County below. More information about market schedules throughout the entire WNC region is available for viewing online at www.buyappalachian.org.

Seal of approval: The Appalachian Grown logo is one way to identify certified local foods. Image courtesy of ASAP

Getting excited for the first of the season's produce? You have good reason to be. Here's a sampling of just some of what you'll find at the spring's first farmers markets:
Salad greens: Escarole, arugula, watercress, mesclun mix, spinach and butterhead lettuce may be the ideal first foods of spring because you can eat them absolutely fresh, with no cooking.
Cooking greens: Kale, bok choy, swiss chard, mustard greens and turnip greens also abound.
Tender spring vegetables: Asparagus and peas are other much-anticipated early arrivals at farmers markets, and you should be able to find spring root crops such as radishes and turnips.
And heaps of other choices: You can always shop tailgate markets for eggs and grass-fed, naturally raised meats. Sweet and savory baked goods can also be found, along with preserves like jellies and dressings. Look for crafts as well.

Keep reading through the season for ideas for making the most of the ephemeral — and overly abundant — crops as they change. We also invite your recipes and observations about the evolving availability of foods with the seasons. 

Farmers Tailgate Markets in Buncombe County

Tailgate time: As this farmer points out, love and eggs are best when fresh. Photo courtesy of ASAP

Asheville City Market
161 S. Charlotte St.
Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Opens April 17

Asheville City Market – South
Biltmore Town Square Blvd.
Wednesdays, 2 to 6 p.m.
Opens May 5

Big Ivy Tailgate Market
Old Barnardsville Fire Station
Saturdays, 9 a.m. to noon

Opens May 1

Black Mountain Tailgate Market
130 Montreat Road
Saturdays, 9 a.m. to noon
Opens May 8

Greenlife Sunday Market
70 Merrimon Ave.
Sundays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Opens May 2

Mission Hospital Tailgate Market
Mission Hospital Heart Center
Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Opens May 13

North Asheville Tailgate Market
UNCA Campus, Commuter Lot C
Saturdays, 8 a.m. to noon
Opens April 17

Riceville Tailgate Market
Next door to the Riceville Volunteer Fire Department.
Saturdays, 9 a.m. to noon
Opens May 15

Victory Tailgate Market
Adjacent to ABCCM Veterans Restoration Quarters, on Tunnel Road
Wednesdays, 3 to 6 p.m.
Opens June 2

Weaverville Tailgate Market
On the hill overlooking Lake Louise

Wednesdays, 2 to 6:30 p.m.
Opens April 14

Wednesday Co-op Market
76 Biltmore Ave.
Wednesdays, 2 to 6:30 p.m.
Opens May 5

West Asheville Tailgate Market
718 Haywood Rd.
Tuesdays, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Opens April 20

Find more markets in WNC at www.buyappalachian.org.

[Rose McLarney works for the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (www.asapconnections.org), a nonprofit organization that works to keep farmers farming and reconnect people with their food. Contact her at rose@asapconnections.org.]

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