Monday, February 7, 2011

Charlotte Regional Farmers Market

The Food Baby bottom line:
  • Being at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market makes me feel happy and smiley
  • Meat and eggs are expensive, but fruits and veggies are super cheap!
  • The grocery store is dead to me
So, I have a burgeoning love for the local food movement. My partner in crime Brianna has been feeling the love for a while now, and some really wonderful people in my life swear by the farmers markets here in Charlotte. There are about 100 good reasons to eat locally sourced food, including: supporting local farmers, eating healthy natural foods, humane treatment of animals, and the fact that fresh food is just dank!! So this farmers market virgin finally (FINALLY!) gave it up and visited the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market on Saturday.

I didn't really know what to expect. I had heard the CRFM was "overwhelming". Luckily, a great friend of mine, Sarah, gave me a full rundown of the highlights which was a huge help. There are four large narrow warehouse-like buildings and one large open-air "greenery shed" (which was empty on this February Saturday). Building A is open-air as well, and at 10:30 AM only had one food stand and the Harvest Moon Grill truck (What up HMG!!!)

Image courtesy of

I stood on the periphery of Building A looking stupefied for a while. Did I miss everyone? After a moment, I finally spotted some people entering an inconspicuous entrance to Building B. I creepily trailed them in.

What an awesome sight: Booth after booth of gorgeous looking veggies, fruit, gourmet breads, jams, MEATS, eggs....I again just stood there stupefied, deciding where to start.

Loving me some Building B

I started with the Oak Ridge Farm booth and picked up some brown eggs for 4 dollars - a bit steep but Sarah had advised me not to miss the eggs. And skipping ahead to the eggs-over-easy I made when I got home...OMG she was right. More on that in a few.

Next, a meat stand caught my eye. It was Gilcrest Natural Farm, and they had a nice selection of meats - mainly steaks. I was planning to get a couple of sirloins to keep the cost down, but after inspecting the frozen cuts I settled on a good-sized NY Strip that my hubbie and I could share for 13 dollars.

A few stands down, I spotted a board listing a wide variety of pork products! Score! I went with two ginormous pork chops and a package of fresh pork bacon, which came to 17 dollars. Thank you A Way of Life Farm!

I decided it was probably a good idea to supplement my copious proteins with some sides. I stopped at J&S produce and got some red and while new potatoes for 1.80!! Lastly I stopped at Red Kapps Produce where I picked up some nice thick asparagus and some girthy (heh) bananas - for 3 bucks total.

All my finds - roughly 40 bucks

To date I have only tried a few of my delicious acquisitions. Within moments of getting home I made some eggs-over-easy and some bacon. As I stated above - the eggs were beautiful...dark yellow yolks which were rich and deeply flavored and uber-creamy. I am not embarassed to share that I licked the plate.

Breakfast of champions!

So, my dear friends and followers...I need some advice on the bacon.

Pork Fresh Bacon

In the ordinary fashion, I took the bacon from the package and placed it in the pan, and fried until crispy. I noticed the bacon was more gray-ish than usual, and I chalked that up to it not being saturated in nitrates and food coloring. After it was done cooking, it looked pretty good, even though the pieces were small. But the bacon tasted SO very different from what I'm used to. It just tasted like an unseasoned pork strip. Not an ounce of salt.

Lauren's happy place

It occurred to me that perhaps this bacon could be uncured! It was labeled "fresh pork bacon". So the advice I need is this...what does a girl do with uncured pork strips? All my googling only instructed me how to cure a slab. I'm so confused....and pretty sure I'm the world's shittiest bacon connoisseur.

All in all...I'm in LOVE with the CRFM. Such a superior alternative to the grocery store - and I understand it gets better as the weather warms up. I still have to try the meats, and I'll let you know how it goes. But I am a brand new convert to the farmers market scene and couldn't be more smug about it.


UPDATE 2/9/2011: I e-mailed A Way of Life Farm about the uncured bacon and they sent me this thoughtful response:

Hi Lauren,
Thanks for asking.  The bacon isn't cured, it really is the fresh pork belly sliced.  We cook it in a frying pan,  as you would any other bacon, and season it right in the pan.  Sprinkle salt, pepper, maple syrup/brown sugar, and add liquid smoke if you want the smoky flavor. When you flip the bacon, season the other side as well. I hope you like it.  We like it better than any cured bacon. Sorry I didn't get your email in time for Sunday breakfast! Sara Jane

Sarah Jane - you are awesome. Thank you for guiding this fresh pork belly neophyte to bacon nirvana. I'll take your advice and let you know how it turns out. 


  1. You are awesome....I love this and now I want eggs over easy with some fresh pork bacon.

  2. I found the GG bacon to be gray and saltless as well. I just added salt. Lots of salt. And I realized it's amazing bacon IN something (like the dank shrimp and grits) but eating it plain may take some getting used to (and lots of salt). Btw the farmers market is way more overwhelming in the summer!

  3. The farmers market is definitely more overwhelming in the summer. Just make sure you buy from the REAL FARMERS. Not the wannabees who go buy and resell their produce.