Before having kids, one of my favorite things to do on a Saturday morning was to get up early and run to the farmer's market to pick up some fresh, local produce. I bought baked goods, flowers, eggs, and of course, fruits and veggies. But I never once thought about purchasing meat from the farmer's market. To be honest, I don't even know if it was offered back then (jeez, I feel old now).
But when I was given the opportunity to visit the Piedmont Triad Farmer's Market last week, I learned that the farmers have more to offer than just fresh, local produce! Not only did I find all sorts of North Carolina grown fruits, veggies, herbs, and flowers, but fresh, locally-raised meat, as well.
I grew up in the midwest. In the middle of “God's Country”, where you can't go more than a mile or two without seeing a cornfield, cattle, or pig farm. So suffice it to say I am a tried and true omnivore, with carnivore tendencies. I always need a good source of protein in my meals.
I don't discriminate. I love beef, chicken, fish, but my assignment was to find some delicious North Carolina pork.
North Carolina is the second largest pork producer in the USA with a total production value of hogs in 2015 of $2.24 billion. Yes, that is billion with a ‘b'.
My home state, Iowa, is the largest pork producer with a total production value of hogs in 2015 of $6.58 billion. (P.S. Iowa is also the home of the pork tenderloin sandwich, well, we just call it a tenderloin. One of the few things I really miss about the midwest, aside from my family, of course.)
Rockin' B Farm
While I was at the farmer's market I had to pleasure of meeting Josh Bowman, marketing manager of Rockin' B Farm out of Staley, North Carolina. Josh's family has been raising and selling pasture-raised pork products and homegrown Santa Gertrudis beef since 1986. In 2014 they were voted the North Carolina Outstanding Conservation Farm Family for Randolph County.
What is the benefit of pasture-raised pigs, you ask? Well, it is not only better for you, it's better for the pigs and the land (check out this video). Pasture-raised pork is richer-tasting–far superior to what you buy at most grocery stores! (Quick Tip: pasture-raised pork also cooks faster, so be careful not to overcook.)
Not only are pasture-raised pigs–really all pasture-raised livestock, happier and healthier, but they contain higher quality nutrients than commercially-raised animals. Study after study has shown that pasture-raised livestock produce meat with lower levels of saturated fat and total fat, and higher levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, heart-friendly Omega 3’s, Beta-Carotene, and heart disease/cancer fighting CLA’s (Conjugated Linoleic Acid).
Rockin' B Farm has a great assortment of pork and beef products. But if you read through the reviews on their Facebook page, you will see they are famous for their pork sausage. I'm kicking myself that I didn't pick up a package or two along with the delicious bacon chunks and pork tenderloins I bought.
You can find Josh at the Piedmont Triad Farmer's Market every Saturday and Sunday.
I enjoyed shopping at the farmer's market. There are so many vendors you can't possibly visit them all in one day. In addition to produce, you can find a variety of North Carolina meats, cheeses, wines, and specialty foods available year round.
I managed to visit two buildings before my arms were filled and my wallet was empty, lol. I was very jealous of the lady who brought a wagon to carry all of her purchases.
The freshness, quality, and variety of crops grown by North Carolina farmers cannot be beat. They produce 21 major vegetable and fruit crops throughout the state. In addition, products from North Carolina nurseries, greenhouses, Christmas tree farms, and turf grass and sod growers are available at the Piedmont Triad Farmer's Market throughout the year (or in season).
While I was there I picked up a little bit of this and that. The blackberries were so big and juicy I wanted to eat them all before I even got home! But I saved some for the girls. I was drooling over the delicious apples at the Newman Farms booth. Honey Crisp apples have always been my favorite, and my girls LOVE McIntosh apples so I picked up a 1/2 peck of each. I even picked up some Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomatoes. My husband fried some up for lunch today and said they were delicious!
But I must admit I became a little captivated with all the different types of peppers available. So many I'd never heard of before… sweet and spicy varieties, one even came with a warning label! I ended up buying five different kinds of peppers. I didn't opt for any of the super spicy varieties as my girls don't like overly-spicy foods, unlike their father and me.
The kids were craving tacos and I was all set to make some pork carnitas with the amazing tenderloin I picked up from Rockin' B Farm, but I was being lazy and waited too long to start cooking.
Instead, I threw together a quick and easy stir-fry with some white rice and zoodles (zucchini noodles). Everything smelled so good my kids were coming out of the woodwork to see what I was making.
North Carolina Pork & Five Pepper Stir Fry with Seasoned Zoodles
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 pound pork, cut into 2-inch strips
- 1-2 tablespoons Chinese Five Spice
- 1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 4 cups of assorted peppers, cut into chunks
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1-2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, or to taste
- 1 zucchini, medium to large, spiral cut into noodles
- 1/4 cup sweet Thai chili sauce or Sriracha, optional
- After slicing the pork into approximately 2 inch strips, sprinkle with the Chinese Five Spice and let sit while you dice up the peppers and slice the carrots.
- Once all the prep work is done, heat vegetable oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat; cook and stir pork until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. No not overcook.
- Move onto a plate or to the side of the wok and add the peppers, carrots, and garlic.
- Cook and stir vegetables for 2 minutes.
- Stir pork into vegetables and season with soy sauce and sesame seeds and optional Thai chili sauce or Sriracha. Taste and add more soy sauce, if needed.
- Continue to cook and stir until vegetables are tender but still crisp, about 2 more minutes.
- Remove the pork and veggies to a bowl and add the zoodles into the hot pan.
- Cook just until warm, season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the pork and veggies over the zoodles and serve immediately.
You can substitute whatever veggie you want in this recipe. I always use what I have around the house, and things I like to eat. My husband loves onions and mushrooms. Me not so much. So when he cooks he can add his favorites. 😉
I serve this with rice and zoodles because not all of my kids like zoodles.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 458Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 282mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 5gSugar: 4gProtein: 25g
I hope you enjoy my quick and easy stir fry. Check out these other amazing North Carolina Pork recipes below!
Got To Be NC Pork at Your Local NC Farmers Market
- Mustard & Molasses Marinated NC Pork Chops from Heidi Billotto Food featuring pork from A Way of Life Farm
- Polish Sausage with Apples Onions and Butternut Squash from Pastry Chef Online featuring pork from MAE Farm
- Carolina Poutine with Pulled Pork from TriadFoodies featuring pork from Mill River Farm
- Tacos al Pastor from Hispanic Mama featuring pork from Bull City Farm
- North Carolina Pork & Five Pepper Stir-Fry from Life of a Ginger featuring pork from Rockin’ B Farms
North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services operates four regional farmers markets, strategically located across the state to serve the citizens of North Carolina. These regional markets were built by the state and dedicated to N.C. farmers and growers and the produce and plant industry. The goal of the farmers markets is to furnish facilities where our farmers can provide fresh, locally grown produce and plants to N.C. consumers with reduced handling costs. At these regional markets, consumers are able to talk with farmers who grew and harvested the fresh produce and plants from nearby farms.
Robert G. Shaw Piedmont Triad Farmers Market is located at 2914 Sandy Ridge Road – Colfax, North Carolina 27235 Phone: (336) 605-9157 FAX:(336) 605-9401