Flavor, NC: Walking Fish CSF

Flavor NCTwice a month we take a look at local restaurants, farms and farmers markets featured on episodes of UNC-TV’s Flavor, NC. This week, we highlight the first episode of season two, in which hostess Lisa Prince travels to the coastal town of Beaufort to take a lesson in flounder gigging from Walking Fish CSF, learn a few tips for picking a fresh flounder filets at Fishtowne Seafood and try her hand at a few flounder recipes with Chef James Clarkson of Clawson’s 1905 and Aqua restaurants.

“Hang out the ‘gone fishing’ sign, we’re headed to the coast on the hunt for flounder,” Lisa tells viewers in the intro. In this episode, she takes a lesson in flounder gigging from Lin Chestnut of Walking Fish CSF. Chestnut heads out every night from May until the chill of fall sets in on the search for flounder. He uses a multi-pronged spear to catch flounder laying in shallow water of Core Sound. Under illuminated lights from the boat, the flounder are easier to see.

After night fishing, Lisa visits Fishtowne Seafood and learns what to look for when picking a fresh flounder fillet. Tips include a pleasant smell, stored on ice, clear eyes and red gills.

Lisa finishes her trip to Beaufort with a stop in the kitchen to learn a few flounder recipes from Chef Clarkson of Clawson’s 1905 and Aqua restaurants. Below is Clarkson’s recipe for grilled flounder with tomato basil sauce.

FF-Grilled-Flounder-with-Fresh-Tomato-Sauce-650x436Grilled Flounder with Tomato Basil Sauce

  • 6 ounces flounder filet
  • olive oil
  • 1 ounce fresh basil, chopped
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 ounce green onions, sliced
  • 4-6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • salt and pepper to taste

Brush flounder with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle lightly with seafood breader if desired. Grill flounder for approximately three minutes per side, depending on thickness. While flounder grills, toss together olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil and green onion and season with salt and pepper. Serve tomato basil mixture over grilled flounder filets.

 

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2014 was a record year for NC cotton, peanuts, sweet potatoes

Photo of harvester in cotton field

The average cotton yield in North Carolina in 2014 was 1,049 pounds per acre, a new state record.

Despite a cool, wet spring that caused delays in field work, 2014 was a record-setting year for several North Carolina crops, according to the USDA’s annual crop summary.

The statewide average yields for cotton, peanuts and sweet potatoes set new records, while soybean yields tied a record and production of tobacco was the most since 1998.

Not all crops saw gains last year. Corn production in the state fell 16 percent from 2013′s total.

Here are some of the numbers:

  • Cotton acres held steady at 460,000, but the yield of 1,049 pounds per acre was quite a bit more than the previous record of 1,014, which was set in 2012. Total production was 1 million bales, an increase of 31 percent from 2013.
  • The peanut yield averaged 4,300 pounds per acre, 200 pounds better than the record set in 2012. Total production was 400 million pounds on 93,000 acres.
  • Soybean production was up 42 percent to 69.2 million bushels. The yield of 40 bushels per acre tied the record set in 2012.
  • Sweet potato acreage increased 19,000 in 2014, to 72,000 acres. The yield of 220 hundredweight per acre was 10 percent better than the previous record, set in 2013. Production, at 15.8 million hundredweight, was 49 percent higher than 2013.
  • Tobacco production totaled 453.9 million pounds, a 25 percent increase over 2013. That’s the highest total in North Carolina since 1998, when it topped 551 million pounds.
  • Corn growers harvested 90,000 fewer acres of the crop last year than in 2013. Production totaled 103 million bushels on 840,000 acres.

Click here for the full North Carolina summary.

 

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Unwelcome guests: Some insects make themselves at home

The multicolored Asian lady beetle is a common home invader each winter. It can be many different colors, patterns, and sizes and can be quite annoying.  Image: Bruce Watt, University of Maine, Bugwood.org.

The multicolored Asian lady beetle is a common home invader each winter. It can be many different colors, patterns, and sizes and can be quite annoying. Image: Bruce Watt, University of Maine, Bugwood.org.

Some house guests are notorious for overstaying their welcome or worse — coming over uninvited. In certain cases, those committing the social faux pas may be creepy-crawly insects!  Seeking out warm environments for overwintering, they cluster together and trespass into homes, causing anguish for N.C. homeowners every year.

Many of these insects emit an aggregation pheromone, which attracts others of their species, leading to sometimes massive congregations. At first, they may assemble on the outside of a house. As temperatures cool, they creep into the wall spaces, attics and other voids. In some cases, usually on a warm day or when they heater is turned on, they come out of their refuges and annoy their unsuspecting hosts and hostesses.

There are several of these insects that rudely make themselves at home. Topping the list are kudzu bugs and ladybugs.

Kudzu bugs have been spreading throughout the Southeast since their accidental introduction near Atlanta in 2009.  The good news is that this exotic insect eats kudzu, an invasive plant that threatens our forest ecosystems. The bad news is that the bug also eats soybeans.  Homeowners who have issues with kudzu bugs often live near a patch of kudzu and/or have a white or light colored home, which attracts the bugs.

Ladybugs are generally considered beneficial, as they feed on garden pests like aphids and scales. Unfortunately, the ladybug also has a dark side… the one that commonly invades homes is native to Asia and has almost displaced native ladybugs.

While these squatters may be quite the nuisance, they don’t cause long-term damage. To reduce the populations, homeowners should seal cracks and crevices, replace torn screens and resolve any other possible entry points. They can also be vacuumed up, although they may cause quite the stink in the vacuum cleaner (some recommendations include inserting a pantyhose in the filter so that they can be easily removed or purchasing a vacuum dedicated to the stinkers). Pesticides are usually not recommended. To prevent kudzu bugs, homeowners should search for nearby patches of kudzu and kill two birds with one stone: eliminating the kudzu will likely mean less kudzu bugs!

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Today’s Topic: It’s a felony to steal Venus flytraps in North Carolina

 

Southern Farm Network logoAgriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

Earlier this month, four men were charged for poaching 900 Venus flytraps from the Holly Shelter Game Land in Pender County. They were arrested by state wildlife officers, and they are the first people to be charged under a new state law that makes it a felony to steal flytrap plants or seed.

Venus flytraps are protected under North Carolina law. They are rare plants that grow wild only in southeastern North Carolina and nearby areas of South Carolina.

The flytrap isn’t the only protected plant with a stiff penalty for poaching. In another recent case, a Boone man is believed to be the first person in the state convicted of a felony for poaching ginseng from private property. (Wild ginseng can be harvested legally in North Carolina with the proper permits. Information is available here.)

The NCDA&CS Plant Conservation Program seeks to protect rare and threatened plants such as the Venus flytrap and ginseng. Commissioner Troxler says he hopes these criminal penalties will help deter people from breaking the law and putting these plants at further risk.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss the protection of rare and protected plants.

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Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.

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On the job with an NCDA&CS food inspector: Collecting samples from the field

Hamlin Landis, food regulatory specialist, collects deli sandwiches for a survey sample.

When most people visit the grocery store, they are thinking about the meals they have planned, the lunch box items they might need to buy and the coupons they might have. For Hamlin Landis, a food regulatory specialist with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, food safety is top of mind when he steps into the grocery store.

The department’s Food and Drug Protection Division is responsible for routinely checking products at retail outlets such as grocery stores, markets and warehouse facilities. These inspections often involve collecting samples of raw products such as blueberries, strawberries and apples to be analyzed for pesticide residue, or checking packaged products for microorganisms such as salmonella, listeria and E. coli.

The sandwiches must stay in sight of Landis until chain of custody is passed along to the lab. He wheels the samples into the break room of Harris Teeter to fill out paperwork.

The sandwiches must stay in Landis’ sight until chain of custody is passed along to the lab. He wheels the samples into the break room of the grocery store to fill out paperwork.

As one of 24 food regulatory specialists, Landis inspects stores on a rotating basis, as well as by complaint. In addition to his regular inspection duties, once a week he performs a routine sample survey on a product at a randomly selected store. “When we collect a sample for microbiological testing, we take five of the same item,” said Landis. “The item must have the same sell-by date, made-by date or product code. If we were sampling soup, it would need the same sell-by date. Earlier this year we sampled asparagus; each sample needed the same packer code.”

Landis has worked for the Food and Drug Protection Division for about five years, but he held a similar job with Winn Dixie Supermarkets prior to joining the department. His inspection area now includes Raleigh, Cary and Morrisville. “Problems we are looking for include misbranded or adulterated food, temperature abuse, insect or rodent issues and over-the-counter medicines or baby formula that is expired,” he said. Landis estimates that he embargoes a food product about once every 10 days. Embargoed food must be removed from sale until the problem can be corrected.

Recently, Landis’ sample-collection assignment was for prepackaged sandwiches from the deli at a grocery store. After checking in with the store manager and stating the purpose of his visit, Landis visited the deli. There, he collected five sandwiches, bagged them individually, labeled them with bar codes and placed them in a cooler. The cooler was then locked to prevent tampering. The cooler must stay in Landis’ sight until chain of custody is passed along at the lab. He wheeled the samples to the break room so he could fill out paperwork. While still in the store, Landis filled out a form to describe each sample and denote the requested lab work. In this case, the samples needed microbiological analysis, which looks for harmful bacteria such as salmonella, listeria and E. coli. This form and the bar codes will accompany the samples throughout the Food and Drug Protection Division’s Constable Laboratory in Raleigh.

“Chain of custody is always maintained with the samples,” said Landis. “Once the sample is labeled in the store, the bar code follows it through from collection to receipt at the lab.” Procedures are strictly followed to maintain the integrity of the samples. Once paperwork is completed, the samples are driven to the Constable Laboratory. Next we will follow the samples into the lab for analysis.

**If you have reason to suspect that food in the grocery store is not wholesome, contact the Food and Drug Protection Division at 919-733-7366. Please have as much information as possible, including the store you purchased from, date of purchase, product code or lot numbers and any other details you can provide. The laboratory will not accept samples from the public. Food inspectors must collect original samples from the store to maintain chain-of-custody integrity of the samples.**

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News Roundup: Jan. 3-9

News Roundup logoEach week we round up the latest N.C. agricultural headlines from news outlets across the state and country, as well as excerpts from the stories. Click on the links to go straight to the full story.

  • “US tobacco growers learned some things in 2014,” Southeast Farm Press: The 2014 U.S. tobacco-growing season, which ended emphatically when nearly every tobacco-growing state experienced intense cold the first weekend of November, was characterized by much higher production for flue-cured, a modest increase for burley and a small increase for the dark types. Whether you accepted the 557 million pound estimate of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the 525 million, it seemed a certainty that the current flue-cured will be substantially more than last year’s volume. But this may not have been the best year for it. …
  • Jason Brown encourages VGCC ag course grads to make a difference,” Home in Henderson: The 14 graduates of the first-ever NC REAL Agricultural Entrepreneurship class at Vance-Granville Community College received certificates and heard words of encouragement from former NFL-star-turned-farmer Jason Brown on Tuesday, Dec. 16, in the college’s auditorium. “Farmers are the backbone” of the local area, our state and nation, Brown, a former center for two National Football League teams, told the graduates. “All roads lead back to the farmer,” he said, describing the rewards for being involved in agriculture. …
  • “A Young Generation Sees Greener Pastures In Agriculture,” NPR: America’s heartland is graying. The average age of a farmer in the U.S. is 58.3 — and that number has been steadily ticking upward for more than 30 years.Overall, fewer young people are choosing a life on the land. But in some places around the country, like Maine, that trend is reversing. Small agriculture may be getting big again — and there’s new crop of farmers to thank for it. …
  • “Farmers Protect Animals from Brutal Cold Snap,” Time Warner Cable News: Thanks to an arctic blast, farmers have their work cut out for them. Not only are they keeping themselves warm, they have to protect their animals. “We’re just extra vigilant during this weather,” said Ellen Ziemer, who runs the Pura Vida Farm in Bahama. One of her lambs gave birth to twins as the freezing temperatures continued to plunge Wednesday night. Her first priority was keeping them warm. “They’re born wet and very, very helpless, and if they’re out in this element, they could absolutely freeze,” said Ziemer. She also makes sure animals have plenty of hay to keep their strength as they burn a lot of calories just to stay warm. …
  • “Third PEDv Strain Not So New,” Southern Farm Network: A new strain of the PED virus has been identified in Minnesota. National Pork Board Vice President of Science and Technology Paul Sundberg was not surprised – saying it is not unusual for viruses of this type to evolve: “This finding of a new virus is important because it will help us to understand how things are going in the US. It shouldn’t be surprising, it’s more of a scientific report rather than one that will change how producers and vets deal with the virus.” Dr. Douglas Marthaler – researcher and assistant professor in the Veterinary Diagnostic lab at the University of Minnesota who diagnosed the new strain – says it was actually found almost a year ago: “We identified this strain in Minnesota in Jan 2014. Veterinary diagnostic labs routinely sequences the PEDv gene for vets and for clients. We have also done some random sequencing for cases that have been positive for the virus to help understand the diversity of PEDv in the U.S. thus far.” PEDv has been in the U.S. about 18 months, and a year ago – the virus was a major problem during the winter months. That’s not the case this year explains Sundburg: “Right now we are in a quiet spot. The data that we have shows that we have just sporadic infections in herds and in finishing floors. But the data shows that we are at a very low level, much lower than last year.” …
  • “Workshops Aimed at Helping Farmers Market Vendors, Managers Boost Sales,” Time Warner Cable News: Farmers market vendors and managers are learning some valuable tools to increase sales at a series of workshops called “Making the Most of Your Market.” Dozens of them got plenty of food for thought at the workshop sponsored by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and Rural Advancement Foundation International. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says between 2007 and 2012, sales at North Carolina’s nearly 250 farmers markets increased only slightly. Workshops like one at the Forsyth County Agricultural Extension Office are addressing the reasons. “Being a farmers market vendor or farmer, even a manager, can be a challenging thing,” said Mike McCreary, a program manager with Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. “There aren’t a lot of resources out there for face to face assistance, advice and tips on how to do things more effectively, or how to be more profitable.” …
  • “Bull sale,” The Mountaineer: The Mountain Research Station annual bull test sale had a totally new look and feel as more than 350 gathered at the WNC Regional Livestock Center Saturday. In past years, potential buyers traveled to the N.C. Department of Agriculture test farm outside of Waynesville on the morning of the sale to look at the bulls and then gathered at the Cooperative Extension Service conference hall across the road for lunch and a video auction. This year, the station partnered with the livestock yard operators to host the sale at the Canton facility.  …
  • “First felony charges filed over Venus’ flytrap thefts,” Wilmington Star-News: For the first time in North Carolina, felony charges were filed in the theft of Venus’ flytraps. Four men charged in the poaching of 900 Venus’ flytraps over the weekend were appointed counsel Monday in Pender County District Court. Jimmy Wortham, 23; Paul Simmons, 49; and Paul Simmons Jr., 22, all of Holden Beach; and Malcolm Douglas Massey, 30, of Supply appeared before District Court Judge Lindsey Luther. The men are each charged with felony taking of Venus’ flytraps. The law making the crime a felony changed Dec. 1. …

 

 

 

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Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series: 2014 Final Fire Champion Jon Fortes

G2BNC Competition DiningOnce a month we highlight a chef and a recipe from the Got to Be N.C. Competition Dining series. This month, we are featuring Chef Jon Fortes of Mimosa Grill in Charlotte. Fortes is the 2014 Final Fire Champion. He describes his cooking style as upscale Southern comfort.

The Got to Be N.C. Competition Dining Series faces off two local chefs in a single-elimination, blind-dinner format. The menu is created around a North Carolina ingredient that is revealed at noon on the day of the competition. This secret ingredient must be used in each of the courses — appetizer, entree and dessert. The initial rounds of the competition were held in Asheville, Blowing Rock, Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh and Wilmington. The winning chefs then competed against each other in a single-elimination tournament in Raleigh called the Final Fire.

FinalFirewinnerJonFortesFortes went up against Chef Dean Thompson of Flights in Raleigh for the final battle. The secret ingredients were Apple Mill Apple Butter, Atlantic Caviar and Biltmore Winery Sparking Wine Blanc de Blanc. Fortes won $4,000, a hand-forged set of knives and a trip to the pro-chef program at the CIA Greystone campus in Napa Valley. For more details on the final battle, check out WRAL’s blog post of the event.

Below is one of Chef Fortes’ favorite recipes, Crispy North Carolina Brussels Sprouts. Brussels sprouts are now in season and available at your local farmers market or grocery store.

Crispy North Carolina Brussels Sprouts

  • 2 cups North Carolina Brussels sprouts, cut in quarters
  • 2 strips bacon, cooked and diced
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic reduction (recipe below)
  • 3 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

1) In a large sauce pot, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2) Slowly drop Brussels Sprouts into oil. (Be careful here the oil will pop!)
3) Allow Brussels to get crispy about 2 to 3 minutes.
4) Remove Brussels sprouts onto a paper towel-lined bowl and season with salt and pepper
5) Toss with Balsamic reduction and bacon bits
6) Enjoy immediately

Balsamic Reduction:

  • 1 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey

1) In a small sauce pot bring vinegar to a boil.
2) Reduce to a simmer and allow vinegar to reduce by half, about 20 to 30 minutes.
3) Whisk in honey and simmer for additional five minutes.
4) Remove from heat and allow sauce to thicken as it cools.

 

Fortes serves this dish at his new restaurant The Flipside Cafe in Fort Mill, SC.

 

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Today’s Topic: The importance of bees and other pollinators

 

Southern Farm Network logoAgriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

One of the topics the NCDA&CS will focus on this year is the important role that bees and other pollinators play in agriculture. The department has launched an effort to educate North Carolinians about pollinators and is setting up habitats at each of the 18 agricultural research stations across the state.

Commissioner Troxler says that, while on a trade mission to Europe last year, he saw the emphasis being placed on pollinator habitats in northern England, and he thought something similar could be done in North Carolina.

Bees, birds, bats and other pollinators account for $168 million in annual agricultural production in North Carolina. Up to one-third of our food can be connected to pollinators. These insects and animals play a role in everything from fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers, strawberries, apples and blueberries, to row crops such as soybeans, alfalfa, canola and peanuts.

According to the USDA, habitat loss, disease and environmental changes have contributed to the decline in pollinator numbers. The best way to reverse this is a multi-step approach to expand and protect habitats on the farm.

The department is promoting a three-step approach to landowners. First, we must recognize native pollinators and habitats already on the farm. Second, farmers will need to adapt existing farm- and land-management practices to avoid causing undue harm to the pollinators that are already there. Soil and Water Conservation Districts will be working with landowners to help with plans. And third, we need to create habitat for native bees on and around the farm. This step is where the research stations are going to be leading the way. The stations are finding the right mix of seeds that will provide flowers, but not create more problems for farmers.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss the importance of pollinators, and for additional information, click here.

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Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.

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News Roundup: Dec. 20 – Jan. 2

News Roundup logo Each week we round up the latest N.C. agricultural headlines from news outlets across the state and country, as well as excerpts from the stories. Click on the links to go straight to the full story.

  • “Christmas tree farms a gift for beneficial bugs,” Hendersonville Times-News: Sweat bees, like this one on a black-eyed Susan, are just one of the pollinators that utilize Christmas tree farms, according to an N.C. State University study. A year-long study of Christmas tree farms by a local N.C. State researcher finds that when it comes to pollinators and other beneficial insects, Christmas tree farms keep on giving long after the holiday season is over. Jill Sidebottom of the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River studied six tree farms in five Western North Carolina counties and found that field borders and groundcover around Christmas trees provide habitat for many beneficial insects. …
  • “The only thing that will feed the world is farmers,” Southeast Farm Press: Agriculture needs to avoid claiming that biotechnology will feed the world, says Steve Savage, a worldwide expert on agricultural technology. “There is no single technology that will feed the world. The only thing that will feed the world is farmers,” Savage said at a forum on agricultural biotechnology held at North Carolina State University in Raleigh Nov. 18. Savage is an independent communicator and consultant with Savage and Associates and brings experience from Colorado State University and DuPont. Savage was the keynote speaker at the forum that drew more than 500 participants. The NC State forum was held to address the challenge of feeding 9 billion people by 2050. The forum looked at the technologies necessary to feed a growing population in a sustainable way. …
  • “Improved trade could benefit Cubans and North Carolinians,” News & Observer: Allan Henderson sold North Carolina apples to hungry Cubans for three years during a brief easing of trade restrictions, and he hopes for a chance to do business in Cuba again one day. “We have freedoms they just dream about, and some of those freedoms are just food to eat,” Henderson, whose Henderson Products sells fruit and vegetables in Hendersonville, said Thursday. “To heck with the politics. I would be ready to go back and trade with them tomorrow if it would be legal.” Henderson hasn’t been to Havana to visit Fidel and Raul Castro since 2006, when the State Department canceled his export license. Other North Carolinians who have traveled to the communist island nation this year share his belief that the restoration of diplomatic relations with the United States, announced Wednesday, will bring welcome economic and cultural opportunities for both nations. “Cuba is a hungry marketplace, in the best sense of the word,” said Brad Wilson, CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina, who traveled to Cuba in January and November. “The Cuban people have an appetite for moving forward. They understand that includes a more active capitalistic and democratic society.” …
  • “Most N.C. shelters no longer using gas on animals,” Greensboro News & Record: North Carolina’s ban on the use of gas to euthanize animals becomes official early next year, although it appears most shelters have given up the practice, officials say. Patricia Norris, the director of animal welfare for the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, sent a memo in early December advising shelters that they must stop using gas chambers for euthanasia as of Feb. 15, 2015. Most, if not all, shelters have moved entirely to lethal injection, Norris said. …
  • “Tree farms serve as laboratories to assess climate change,” Winston-Salem Journal: Thad Taylor has spent about a quarter of a century planting and harvesting Fraser firs on 28 acres of rolling hills in Banner Elk. What started out as a hobby has become Big Ridge Tree Farm, where about 60,000 trees are grown at an elevation of 3,600 feet. Typically, the trees are sold annually to customers throughout the Southeast who prefer the “choose-and-cut” option for 5- to 12-footers that decorate their main or seasonal homes for the holidays. …
  • “NC hog farm neighbors seek court help to stop the stink,” Charlotte Observer: Two dozen lawsuits now before a federal court challenge the personal cost of North Carolina’s $2.5 billion hog industry: living with its stink. More than 500 plaintiffs from hog country, centered southeast of Raleigh, say the sickening stench regularly forces them indoors. Mists of wastewater sprayed on nearby fields drift across property lines, they say. Flies swarm. Roadside “dead boxes” bulge with expired swine. Those are problems that state legislation and a landmark settlement with the industry were supposed to have solved nearly 20 years ago, when industrial hog farms had spread across Eastern North Carolina. Instead, the state reached a plateau that’s endured since 1997. Legislators passed tough standards, including odor controls, that stopped new farms from being built. But existing ones, which each may hold thousands of animals, continue to operate. About 2,100 farms produce 10 million hogs a year, matching North Carolina’s human population and making it the second-biggest hog state after Iowa. …
  • “WNC combats decline of native ginseng,” Asheville Citizen-Times: Mark Norwood plans to keep planting ginseng, even if people keep stealing the plants. The grounds supervisor at Mars Hill University has tried to incorporate native plants on the Madison County campus, but with ginseng highly valued, those plants tend to disappear. “It’s not a problem only at Mars Hill,” Norwood said. “It’s a problem in anybody’s yard that can be accessed. I’ve had friends who had their ginseng stolen from behind their house.” To combat the problem, Norwood is trying something different. He is planting ginseng roots that have been treated with a dye that will make them easy to identify if stolen from the Mars Hill campus. Wild ginseng root was going for as much as $1,200 per dried pound last year, with much of the demand driven by Chinese and Korean markets, where ginseng has been valued for centuries for its medicinal properties. …
  • “10 Things to Watch in 2015,” AgWeb: 2014 was certainly an interesting year to be involved in agriculture. We got to see supply and demand in full effect. Good weather sent grain prices tumbling while continuing tight supplies have kept cattle prices soaring. The Republicans made strong gains and will enter 2015 with control of both the House and Senate. In popular culture, Kanye West finally made an honest woman out of Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift swore off country music, and Serial has left us pondering the nature of truth. While I have not spent the $27.68 necessary to acquire a crystal ball on Amazon, I do feel the need to join the crowded field of writers, bloggers and seers that are making predictions for the upcoming year. Accordingly, I have compiled a list of the 10 legal and policy issues that I see facing agriculture in 2015. …
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Flavor, NC: Seaview Crab Company

Flavor NCTwice a month we take a look at the local restaurants, farms and farmers markets featured on episodes of UNC-TV’s Flavor, NC. This week, we highlight the last episode of season one, in which hostess Lisa Prince highlights Seaview Crab Company and Port Land Grille, both in Wilmington.

Blue Crab, whose scientific name Callinectes sapidus translate to “savory beautiful swimmer,” is found all along the North Carolina coast, including in creeks and sounds. In this episode, Lisa goes crabbing with  Joe Romano with Seaview Crab Company in the Masonboro Sound. Joe, his brother Sam, and friend Nathan King started crabbing commercially in 2004. Joe shows Lisa how to empty a crab pot, re-bait and sort the crabs by size.

The crabs are then sold at a retail seafood market in Wilmington, roadside stand in Fayetteville and through their mail-order business.

Lisa then visits Chef Shawn Wellersdick of Port Land Grille to cook a few recipes with fresh and local crab meat. Below is his recipe for macaroni and cheese with crab meat, peas and oven-dried tomatoes.

Logan’s “Mac-n-Cheese” with Local Crab Meat, Peas and Oven-dried Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
  • 2 cups grated Asiago cheese
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons butter, plus 2 tablespoons for pan
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 pound cleaned, picked North Carolina lump crab meat
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped oven-dried tomatoes
  • 1 cup English peas
  • 2 teaspoons Italian parsley
  • 4 cups dried pasta (for 8 cups cooked) ziti, shells, rigatoni or macaroni

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter 13-x9-x2-inch glass baking dish. Whisk nutmeg and cayenne pepper with flour in small bowl. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a heavy, large pot over medium high heat. Add flour mixture, stir one minute – do not allow flour to brown. Gradually whisk in milk, add bay leaves and bring to simmer. Cook until sauce thickens, about four to five minutes. Whisk in 1½ cups each of sharp cheddar, Asiago and Gruyere plus ¼ cup Parmesan or Pecorino into sauce. Season generously with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaves, stir in pasta and remove from heat. Gently stir in crab meat, oven-dried tomatoes, peas and Italian parsley. Pour pasta mixture into prepared dish, sprinkle with reserved cheeses. Bake for 35–40 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

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