Extension partners with 10% Campaign to promote local foods

Article Published: May. 5, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Tis the season to find fresh food.

The beginning of summer bounty is signified by the Watauga County Farmers' Market this weekend.
You will find cool season veggies, such as greens, lettuce, radishes, spring onions, and asparagus. Meat, cheese, eggs and baked goods will also be available. Seedlings are ready to be planted in your garden. Hours are 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Horn in the West parking lot.

We are encouraging everyone to purchase at least 10 percent of their food from local growers and food producers this season, and sign up for the 10% Campaign at http://www.nc10percent.com. Campaign participants will receive one weekly e-mail reminder to report how much money they spent on local food. The website will show consumers how their dollars spent on local foods grow.

In addition, the 10% Campaign website provides a "Find Local Foods" page with links to help consumers find local food and farm products in their own communities. A "Learn More" page includes links to information on a variety of partner organizations, such as Slow Food USA and Eat Smart, Move More NC. There are also links to educational information on topics ranging from how to set up a workplace community-supported agriculture program to how to cook seasonal, local products.

North Carolinians spend about $35 billion a year on food. If each person spent just 10 percent on food locally - roughly $1.05 per day - then approximately $3.5 billion would be available in the state's economy. A vibrant local food economy will support farms, food and manufacturing businesses and create jobs.

Participating in the 10% Campaign will give us an objective measurement of the growth in demand for locally grown and produced food. This will help bring in grant funding for infrastructure enhancements and for investors to see that putting money into local food efforts will pay off.

Plus, infusing fresh and flavorful fruits and vegetables into diets can significantly reduce diet-related diseases and long-term health care expenses for everyone.

Here is a great way to use the abundant supply of asparagus:

Creamy Asparagus Soup

1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4, 14 oz. cans chicken broth or equivalent homemade
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and coarsely chopped. Put tips aside.
3/4 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.
Add garlic, onions and chopped celery; saute until tender, about 8 minutes.
Stir in flour, mixing well.
Cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Do not burn or let it go lumpy.
Add chicken broth and stir until smooth.
Bring to a boil.
Add diced potatoes and chopped asparagus, except the tips.
Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Puree soup with hand blender.
Stir in milk, soy sauce, asparagus tips and black pepper.
Bring soup just to boil.
Stir in Parmesan cheese.
Serve hot.

Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups and is the local food coordinator for Watauga County. To contact Margie, e-mail margie_mansure@ncsu.edu or call (828) 264-3061.

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