The regional chain of Ingles Markets has a special event called, Taste of Local, based in Western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina featuring local food producers.
One of my missions with this blog is to encourage foodies to support their local food producers, whether it be through CSA”s (Community Supported Agriculture) or buying produce at the local farmers’ markets.
Since moving to the Appalachian Foothills area, I have never before witnessed such support for local farmers and food products.
Local food producers are able to set up a table and display their products, along with free samples for Ingles’ shoppers.
Some products may be available in your own local Ingle’s Markets, as they obtained wide distribution agreements. I have noticed a few of the products available in my Ingle’s, in the Upstate.
Why I prefer local products
Besides supporting local agriculture, many of these independent entrepreneurs have much higher quality ingredients than nationally known brands.
Such foods do not contain all the unpronounceable chemicals which I see in national brands, which means I am eating better. For example,
Nellino’s Sauce Company, formerly Nello’s Italy, LLC is distributed out of Raleigh, North Carolina. Neal McTighe’s creation celebrates his Italian family roots and his appreciation for quality ingredients.
At the Taste of Local event, he was so confident in his marinara sauce, he handed outshot samples, you drink straight up. No meat, no bread, no accompaniment. It was so fresh and vibrant. Full of flavor.
Compared to a well-known national brand, Nellino’s is about the same price, BUT
- lower in calories
- lower in fat – containing ZERO saturated fats
- has half the sodium
- contains less sugar
Nellino’s is available for purchase on their website and can be shipped directly to your home.
Other Local Products I liked:
Another locally produced product featured at the Taste of Local was Roots Hummus, out of Asheville, NC.
I will admit, I was not a hummus fan! However, after sampling their “original” and “spinach” varieties, I was convinced I probably had not had GOOD hummus, in the past.
Paul, aka #PaulTheRockStar, served up samples of their entire product line with blue corn chips. Buying my top picks, I now eat hummus as a great snack, with carrots, broccoli, or other raw vegetables.
Roots contain NO GMO’S; it is gluten-free and is vegan friendly. Made from all-natural ingredients, 2 Tablespoons of hummus contains only 6 grams of fat; ZERO trans fats; 2 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein!
If you are a carnivore, like me, looking for grass-fed beef or pasture-raised pork, check out Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, NC.
At the Taste of Local, the farm provided samples of their beef and pork, which she only browned in a skillet, adding a little salt and pepper.
The pork had a wonderful sage flavor, without being overpowering. The beef was tender and succulent.
Hickory Nut Gap Farm raise and process all their own meat. As explained to me, the “breakfast sausage” I sampled, contains only pork, salt, red pepper, sage, sugar, black pepper, and water.
No added hormones or antibiotics are given to their animals. A 2 oz. a slice contains 8 grams of protein and ZERO carbs!
I plan to make a day trip to their farm, where they have a store, cafe, and events throughout the summer months.
Honorable mentions which I purchased:
Sunny Creek Farm from Tryon, NC. – Grower of a wide variety of sprouts.
I purchased their broccoli sprouts which are the best source of sulforaphane, which make carbohydrates digestible and have been linked to the prevention of cancer cells.
Tasted a sample of his Samurai Steak & Sushi Sauce applied to a slice of flank steak; it was delicious.
Much like a soy sauce, without the lingering salt taste. It would be great on stir fry, steak, or chicken. Be careful, a little goes a long way, hence he sells his sauce in 5 oz. bottles. You can buy it now on Amazon.
Partnering with other local food producers, Suzy and Clark Neal have developed a unique line of gourmet jams and jellies.
Available in the deli section at participating Ingles Markets, I sampled and then HAD to buy the Vineyard Spread.
Made from Chambourcin grapes (which they recruit from a Georgia winery), it tastes just like a fine wine from France. Very sweet, it is best paired with some cream cheese and applied to your favorite cracker. Suzy told me, she loves it on shrimp and grits.
Inspired by the importance of clean food and a local food economy, Alan and Jill Rose started their farm in 2011.
They provide organic potato and sweet potato slips to commercial growers and backyard gardeners.
Sweet potatoes aren’t started by seed like most other vegetables, they are started from slips.
Slips are shoots that are grown from a mature sweet potato.
At the Taste of Local, they gave me the biggest surprise of the day. Samples included, sweet potato chocolate chip muffins and raw turnip.
First of all…I am NOT a sweet potato fan, much fewer turnips (which I really have never tried).
However, those muffins were delicate, delicious, and did not taste like sweet potatoes at all. The raw turnip strips were crunchy and similar to eating a raw potato – which I do periodically.
I bought sweet potatoes and made the muffins at home AND I served up raw turnips, along with carrots, celery, and broccoli on a vegetable tray for Sunday munching.
Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Muffins
- 4 eggs
- 2 Cups sugar
- 2 Cups room temperature mashed sweet potatoes
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 Cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Cup whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 pkg. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350º degrees.
- Peel, wash, and cut sweet potatoes into diced shapes. Place sweet potatoes in a food processor and pulse 10-15 times, till potatoes resemble mashed potato consistency.
- Beat eggs, sugar, sweet potatoes and oil in a large bowl until smooth.
- In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients together.
- Gradually add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients, stirring after adding a little at a time. Stir all ingredients together till thoroughly combined.
- Fold in chocolate chips.
- Fill a muffin or cupcake tin with paper-lined cups.
- Fill each cup 3/4 full.
- Bake 16-20 minutes.
- Makes 3-4 dozen muffins, depending on the size of muffins you chose.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Taste of Local Event, sponsored by our regional Ingles Market. For more info see their Facebook Page.
If you would like the Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe – drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org