Three years ago I moved to the Cary, North Carolina and quickly became aquatinted with my new rural surroundings. My neighbor suggested I visit the Raleigh Farmer's Market conveniently located on I-40 and Lake Wheeler Road, exit 297; and it turned out to be am unforgettable experience. I was soon taken back by this 75 acre facility providing up to 225,000 square feet of covered, climate controlled, year round retail and wholesale space. Sold were seasonal vegetables and fruits by the pound or by the bushel. There were homemade baked goods, jellies, jams, honey, and the North Carolina Seafood Restaurant serving up deep-fried Calabash-style seafood, with mounds of home fries and hush puppies.
On that beautiful Saturday morning the baked goods caught my eye. I had not seen snicker doodle cookies or buttermilk pies in years; the array of baked goods was awesome. Let there be no misunderstanding, these are serious bakers and they take as much pride in their products as the North Carolina farmers.
First time visitors will be amazed at the amount of food and the number of customers that rolled through the market and after talking to a number of the vendors there is not doubt that North Carolina is a special state; not because it grows more sweet potatoes than any other state in the nation, but because it actually encourages home food processing. Food entrepreneurs can try their luck at creating unique specialties like pickled okra and homemade snicker doodles; taking their culinary creations from kitchen to market.
Years ago when the United States was predominately rural there were many home-based bakers, farmer's wives who sold their jams, and jellies for pin money, along with homemade breads, pastries, cakes, pies and cookies. It is this opportunity that is fueling the local economy by providing local bakers the chance to share their baked goods and earn extra income. Who knows when that culinary hobby will turn into a full time venture?
North Carolina is one of twelve states that allow home-based food processors the opportunity to sell their goods directly to the public. In fact the idea of selling homemade baked good has become so popular there is now a gated area for home-based bakers at the Raleigh Farmer's Market; and featured are homemade carrot cakes, pound cakes, pies, a wide assortment of cookies, and breads; there is literally something for every sweet tooth at the market.
So, the next time someone says, "You really should think about selling that pie," you might want to mosey on down the Raleigh Farmer's Market and see if your sweet treat can stand the heat.