Left Bank Butchery in Saxapahaw, NC

Last month I visited a few fantastic local sustainability resources in the Burlington, NC area: Burlington’s food co-op Company Shops Market, Piedmont Feed and Garden Center in Chapel Hill, and Left Bank Butchery in Saxapahaw.

Left Bank Butchery

Have you been to Saxapahaw? It’s a magical oasis of local food, drink, art, music, and nature in the middle of rural Central North Carolina.

Food and drink: Saxapahaw General Store, The Eddy Pub, Haw River Farmhouse Ales, and of course Left Bank Butchery

Art, music, nature: Haw River BallroomPaperhand Puppet InterventionHaw River Canoe & Kayak Co.

Combining all categories: the weekly farmers market and outdoor concert series Saturdays in Saxapahaw, running from May through the end of August; and this coming weekend (May 2) is the annual Haw River Festival!

On the gloomy March day of our visit, we stopped only at the General Store for a delicious lunch (I wrote about our first visit there here), and Left Bank Butchery for some treats for dog (pig ears) and human (grass-fed local steak from Braeburn Farm).

Left Bank Butchery believe in using sustainable farming practices to raise healthy, happy animals. They start with whole carcasses from cows, pigs, and chickens pasture-raised (or, for the pigs, pasture- and forest-raised) on local farms, and butcher them in-house to ensure the highest-quality cuts of meat possible.

Our arrangement with local farms is simple- we buy from farmers that use the highest standards in regards to animal welfare, ecologically sound farming techniques, and quality of meat.

The day we visited our only planned destination in Saxapahaw was the General Store for lunch; we were thrilled to see Left Bank Butchery a few doors down. Next trip to NC we’ll have to go back on a summer Saturday for Saturdays in Saxapahaw… or to see a band at the Haw River Ballroom… or for dinner and beers at The Eddy… or to paddle the river. So many reasons to return to Saxapahaw!

The New York Times and Washington Post love Saxapahaw too. If you go there and don’t want to leave, here’s who you should talk to about real estate.

Have a Saxy day!

Piedmont Feed and Garden Center in Chapel Hill, NC

The next stop on our tour of local shopping highlights in the Burlington, NC area, was Piedmont Feed and Garden Center, right down the road in Chapel Hill.

I’ve been dragging my feet on this post because my sad, sorry, rainy day pictures are an embarrassment and don’t do the place justice. The store is bright and welcoming, full of feed and products for livestock, dogs and cats; a carefully curated equestrian section; bulk farm and landscaping supplies; and anything you might need for your garden. And if the greenhouse was lovely on the dreary March day I was there, it must be gorgeous now in Spring bloom.

See their Facebook page and Instagram feed for photos full of vibrant colors that show off the store way better than I do here, or better yet, go visit in person!

Piedmont Feed & Garden

The greenhouse 

This was before the Spring plants were fully stocked; the greenhouse is even more impressive now.

Greenhouse plants

Greenhouse plants

Greenhouse plants

The equine section (my favorite)

Equine section

Wanted: everything

Purchased: a Shires grooming kit bag (I am absolutely loving this bag), and a hoof pick/corkscrew combo (for emergencies)

The pet, poultry, and livestock sections

Poultry and livestock sections

Wanted: the fancy chicken coop and the squirrel-proof bird feeder (the sales video at the feeder display is pretty entertaining)

Purchased: a duck-shaped dog toy (HPuppy’s current favorite) and some limited-ingredient dog treats

If you live in the Burlington or Chapel Hill areas, Piedmont Feed and Garden should be your go-to gardening and farming resource. Check their events calendar to learn about upcoming plant and animal workshops and seminars, and go see Chris and Lilly–then vote for them as Best Garden Store and Best Pet Store for Chapel Hill Magazine’s 2015 Best of Chapel Hill Awards! Hurry, polls close on Wednesday the 22nd.


Next and final Burlington area tour stop: Left Bank Butchery in Saxapahaw. (We also stopped at Saxapahaw General Store for lunch but I’ve already written about how wonderful that place is.)


Burlington NC’s local food co-op

Company Shops Market

My sister lives in Burlington, NC, a town just off the interstate between Greensboro and the Chapel Hill-Raleigh-Durham area. While it may often be overshadowed by its better-known neighbors to the east and west, Burlington is the anchor of a fast-growing local food scene in North-Central NC. On Saturday my sister and her family treated Mr HP and me to a tour of local food resources in the Burlington area, starting with breakfast at the Company Shops Market, Burlington’s food co-op. Their slogan: Local Food for Local People.

Company Shops Market

Burlington food co-op aisles

Burlington’s food co-op sources as much as possible of what it sells from local farms and producers, and charges members a fee in exchange for discounts at the store and the opportunity to participate in elections. Membership is a bargain one-time payment of $100 for individuals, or $150 for a two-adult family. The Burlington co-op is a strong supporter of the local community:

For every dollar you spend, 68% goes back into the community through donations, purchases, taxes and payroll. We’re helping to support the local small farms, businesses and producers and offering our customers all-natural, free-range, fair trade, organic and REAL food products!

I particularly appreciated the bulk eggs: fill your own container! Genius!

Our breakfast was fantastic, with more variety than the Charlottesville Whole Foods breakfast bar, for about half the price.

Burlington is lucky to have the Company Shops Market. I’ll definitely be back.

Co-op breakfast bar

Local food for local people

Downtown Burlington’s Saturday morning farmers market is also getting ready to open for the season on April 4:

Did you know that all of our vendors grow, raise, and create everything they sell at market within a 60 mile radius of Downtown Burlington? Now that’s what you can call local!

Next stop in our tour, Piedmont Feed and Garden Center in Chapel Hill!

Local and sustainable dining in Berlin


Guten Tag!

Sorry I’ve been MIA around here. Mr HP and I adopted a dog at the beginning of the year and my free time has since evaporated. Now that we’re in a routine I’m hoping to be able to write more.

Plus, winter is depressing and demotivating. So this is just a quick post to try to get back into the swing of things.

checkpoint charlie

Mr HP is in Berlin, and asked me for a restaurant recommendation. I, in turn, asked Google. Here’s what I found:

In “The Global Guide to Local: Berlin” from Modern Farmer, we learn that in Berlin “there is a compelling movement toward sustainable design and community-based markets – and it’s growing fast.” The article lists sustainable food-related businesses of different types, including two restaurants – Katz Orange, specializing in seasonal, local organic produce and happy pigs (“…one of Berlin’s most adventurous and upscale farm-to-table places to eat” according to this list), and Kantine at David Chipperfield, offering simple food made from local ingredients – and a food hall/produce market, Markthalle Neun. At the market, according to Alternative Berlin, “…you can find an incredible array of delicious, sustainable, local food (as well as a brewery!) sourced in ecologically and socially responsible ways, in direct contact with the producers.”

Kantine’s success led to the creation of a second location, Das Lokal, which sources game from the forests surrounding Berlin. Wild game is about as far from industrial livestock as you can get!

Kantine is not to be confused with Kantine Kohlmann, a …”trendy bar and restaurant [that] uses local, sustainable ingredients to make delicious modern twists on German classics” per this article.

Pantry is a homey, affordable, recommended dinner spot whose “…produce and animal products are allegedly procured during visits to local markets or shipped in from within a 100km radius.”

For a splurge, try the “quite near” (as opposed to the “far away”) menu, which is based on local ingredients, at Reinstoff. Another special occasion destination is Pauly Saal, which sources local ingredients, including from its own garden.

And finally, it doesn’t get much more local than the Café and Restaurant in Prinzessinnengarten, which sources ingredients from Prinzessinnengarten itself.

We serve local and regional organic food and drinks if possible and support small-scale organic producers in and around Berlin. All the revenues from the bar and the kitchen contribute directly to the non-profit learning activities in Prinzessinnengarten.

Prinzessinnengarten is an urban farm raising organic produce, and neighborhood education center where the community can learn about sustainable living. The garden, built on an abandoned city plot, is run by a non-profit and tended by volunteers, and hosts workshops and other educational opportunities. It reminds me of a similar effort in Perth that I was lucky enough to visit last year.

Here is a map showing the locations discussed in this post. If you visit any of them, or if you know of others that should be included, let me know in the comments!

Stockholm’s Best Burgers

exterior view of Flippin' Burgers

Just before Team HP left on a short jaunt to Stockholm, the ever-observant Mr HP caught a tip in one of Huffington Post’s ubiquitous Top X Most Amazing [Random Thing]s Ever lists: the Number One Greatest Burger Outside America is at Flippin’ Burgers in Stockholm–and, per the article:

All Widegren’s beef is grass-fed, sourced from local farms, and ground in-house. A nearby bakery provides the buns.

As a recently recovered pescatarian, I have discovered that I love a good burger, but my rule is that I will only eat a burger if it’s from a local, happy, pastured, hormone- and antibiotic-free, humanely slaughtered cow. Flippin’ Burgers does it right:

Well, we only buy meat from small producers who have an eye on animal husbandry and slaughter. With animals staying outside and eat grass because they simply feel the best of it… Right now, we use E-marked Archipelago Meat from a small slaughterhouse in Värmdö who slaughter animals mainly from farms in the Stockholm archipelago. We have also worked with  Swedish Grass Meat and Greens Farms .

In Charlottesville this summer, Mr HP and I have enjoyed a Sunday tradition of burgers and beers at Champion Brewery: Every Sunday Champion hosts JM Stock Provisions and their magical grill of delights, serving fantastic burgers from local, pastured, hormone/chemical free cows, and man, are they good. So we were excited at the prospect of local happy-cow burgers on Sunday despite being 4200 miles from home.

Flippin’ Burgers has a wait for tables ALL THE TIME. We arrived at 5 and still waited for a half hour at the bar. While there, we got some tips from the (normal-sized) man next to us polishing off his order of FIVE cheeseburgers.

Flippin' Burgers bar

Flippin' Burgers menu

Based on our bar friend’s recommendation, we opted for Burglers, a basic cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and house sauce. Mr HP got a double because he is extra manly. My sad phone pictures do not do the food justice, so you’ll have to take my word for it that these burgers were excellent: juicy, flavorful, not too saucy, and the buns were fresh and not overly bready (you know how sometimes there’s too much bread for the quantity of innards? these were well-sized).

Flippin' Burgers Burgler

Part of the fun of the Flippin’ Burgers experience was the Americanish diner scene. The food was American-inspired: burgers, fries, and Ben and Jerry’s milkshakes. The Swedes next to us ordered Blue Ribbon beer (PBR to you and me). The Spotify station (Spotify started in Sweden, remember? Seems like all restaurants/cafes/stores here have “Check out our playlist on Spotify” signs.) was heavy on early-90s American Top 40. But we were surrounded by Swedish-speakers and we were drinking Swedish beer, so all culture was not lost.

Flippin' Burgers diner scene

Ice cream case

Stockholm Brewing Co

We considered sharing a milkshake for dessert, but instead shared another burger for dessert. Five Burger Guy’s ladyfriend recommended the Cricket burger, which is not made of crickets, but rather a burger topped with cream cheese, pickled onions and jalapenos, inspired by the Cherry Cricket in Denver; this was our dessert.

Flippin' Burgers Cricket

Oh what a terrible picture. The onions were sweet, so it was sort of dessertesque. I wonder how the calorie count compares to that of a milkshake… no, I don’t want to know anything about the calories involved in this meal. It was an interesting and surprisingly tasty combo, but the more traditional burger was better in my opinion.

In conclusion, pastured, local, happy cows make the best burgers, and if you’re craving a top-notch burger in Stockholm and have the time to wait for a table, check out Flippin’ Burgers. If you’re craving a top-notch burger in Charlottesville, meet me at Champion on Sunday!

Adventures in Brazilian steak eating: the Rubaiyat restaurants

While in São Paulo last week, I was lucky enough to feast at A Figueira Rubaiyat, one of the city’s top restaurants. The “figueira” part of the name comes from the magnificent Bengal fig tree, over 100-years-old, that the dining room was built around. Here’s a picture from the restaurant’s website:

… because the pictures I took don’t do it justice:





But probably more interesting to you, dear readers: who are the cows served at A Figueira Rubaiyat and its sister restaurants in the Rubaiyat Group?

The Rubaiyat Group claims to be a “Farm to Plate” operation that rears pasture-raised beef cattle, chicken, and pigs on their own farm in Dourados, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, since 1968. The animals are “fed naturally and raised in freedom,” according to a press release; but it is unclear from everything I could find online if “naturally” means they’re not fed hormones or unnecessary antibiotics, if the cows are finished on grass or on a feedlot, and if humane slaughtering practices are employed.

The meal was enormous and delicious and we were too busy cramming food into our faces for me to take any pictures, other than of the tree as we were leaving. Sorry. Imagine, along with the steak and fish entrees: fresh breads; an appetizer platter of sliced salami, olives, mozzarella balls and tomatoes, and salmon chunks; sides of grilled veggies, puffed potato slices, and hearts of palm; and an elaborate dessert buffet that we were sadly too painfully stuffed to try.

I’m sure you’re wondering if I ate steak. Unfortunately for me (by all accounts from my cohorts at the table), I didn’t do this research into the origins of the beef until after our dinner, so not knowing if the meat was from happy cows, I didn’t try the steak. Instead, I tried the exotic-sounding pirarucu, a large, ancient, air-breathing fish from the Amazon. It was good, but the steak eaters said there was no comparison to the meat. I’ll just have to go back to Brazil to try it!

In closing, since I didn’t get a food shot, here’s a cityscape. It’s a really neat town.

Sao Paulo

Marfrig: World Cup sponsor and global meat corporation

This post’s target demographic is the huge population in the center of this Venn diagram with me. Hello? Anyone else there?

target demographic venn diagram

While watching the World Cup, I noticed a curious ad plastered across the pitch-side advertising boards: Marfrig, qualidade em carne.

Marfrig sponsors the World Cup


I know zero Portuguese, but my Spanish-based powers of deduction suggested that Marfrig might be a major Brazilian meat company worth checking out. Brazilians love their beef, so I figured Marfrig might be focused on quantity rather than sustainability and ethical treatment. Here’s what I learned:

Blah blah blah. Lots of businessy speak about profits and brands and diversification and portfolios, but what about the animals?

The Marfrig Group is managed by an experienced team committed to the highest standards of corporate governance and environmental responsibility.

Ok, now we’re getting somewhere. Please go on.

We currently operate 183 processing plants, distribution centers, feedlots and offices in 17 countries in South America, North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.  We have a daily slaughtering capacity of 20,730 head of cattle, 3,726,860 chickens, 11,179 head of pork, 41,000 turkeys and 11,900 lambs.  

So they can churn through lots of animals quickly. That doesn’t make me optimistic about their treatment of those animals. Oh, but wait, the first item on their Strategy page is this: Invest in organic growth. That’s promising! No… they don’t mean that kind of organic, they mean they’re going to invest in their current infrastructure. Reading on… what about their sustainability practices?


The Marfrig Group considers it a moral duty to prevent the unnecessary suffering of animals. The Group’s animal welfare programs seek to guarantee the safety and humane treatment of animals, through internal rules and regularly audited procedures, as well as investment in the implementation of modern technologies, which led to the upgrade of facilities and pens, the laying of anti-slide floors and new forms of rearing and logistics.

The Company also seeks to implement innovative techniques to improve the welfare of animals. For example, transportation equipment in the United States was recently fitted with temperature controlling technology. This effort led to an increase in live birds on arrival during instances of extreme climates.

The Company offers to its integrated producers and partners qualifying courses ministered by professional instructors in the areas of animal nutrition, rearing and well-being, aiming to provide new tools and knowledge to maximize production in a sustainable way.

In 2013, a report from the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare commended Marfrig in improvements in animal welfare policies and reporting. Said Philip Lymbery, CEO of Compassion in World Farming, about the report: “The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare has played a catalytic role in putting farm animal welfare on the business agenda. It has pushed companies to acknowledge farm animal welfare as a business issue and, critically, it has forced them to take action.” As a result, farm animal welfare is becoming both a business risk and a source of competitive advantage.

Last year, Marfrig joined with The Nature Conservancy to promote sustainable cattle farming in the Amazon. That program is mostly concerned with forest management and water and soil use, but also, interestingly, includes a tracking system so consumers will know where their beef was sourced from, giving more transparency to the production process. They have worked with Greenpeace to decrease the impact of cattle operation in the Amazon, with Walmart to improve energy use and reduce waste and emissions, and the treatment systems at some if its facilities generate carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol.

I started off my random little research project expecting to find Marfrig to be a cold corporate behemoth, but despite being a multi-national processor of thousands of animals per day, it has some really positive qualities, and is a leader in showing other companies that improving animal welfare can be a good business practice. The moral of the story is: Tim Howard is a beast. 


Marfrig corporate profile

Marfrig corporate strategy

Marfrig corporate sustainability

Marfrig animal welfare

The Provisioner Online

The Pig Site


South American crop report

HP in Australia #4: The ethics of kangaroo meat


Fun facts about kangaroos:

  • Their long back legs cannot operate independently. That’s why they hop. When they are moving slowly (can’t really call it a “walk”) they pitch forward onto their T-Rex arms and use their thick tails as support as they swing their legs forward. Here’s a video.
  • A joey stays with his momma for up to 18 months, and in the meantime Mom can have new baby tucked away in her pouch. Kangaroos are the only mammal who can produce two different variations of milk at once, targeting the specific developmental stage of each joey. Here’s more about joeys.

When we went on our Wild Kangaroo Odyssey last week (see #4 in my Perth Favorites list–they are not in any particular order btw), the ever astute Mr. HP asked our gracious tour guide where kangaroo meat comes from–are there kangaroo farms in Australia? We were pleased to hear that no, kangaroos are not farmed; kangaroo meat comes from wild kangaroos shot by licensed hunters. Seemed ethical to us. But as I read more, I learned it’s not that simple.

Kangaroos are recognized worldwide as Australia’s mascot. They are protected by state and federal law, and appear on the federal coat of arms. They are also a nuisance to farmers, gardeners, and drivers, and lack natural predators in an urbanized environment, similar to white-tailed deer on the East coast of the US (watching the kangaroos, they reminded us a bit of deer). As with deer back home, hunting helps to keep the kangaroo population in check. The Australian government has strict regulations regarding hunter licensing and kill quotas, and only permits hunting in areas where kangaroos have been declared a nuisance. The quotas are reviewed yearly, based on population trends and climate predictions, with conservation of the species the most important objective. Kangaroo meat is touted as a leaner, hormone- and antibiotic-free alternative to beef, and more environmental: wild kangaroos require far less water and release much less methane than farmed livestock.


For people who are not against kangaroo meat, there is a movement called kangatarianism, which prescribes following a vegetarian diet with the addition of kangaroo meat, since “Australian kangaroos live natural lives, eat organic food, and are killed humanely.”  There’s also a similar cameltarianism movement! Bonus points for great names–and who knew there are feral camels in Australia?

So, as with everything, it’s up to the consumer to understand the issue and make an informed decision for herself on the ethics of kangaroo meat. What are your thoughts?


HP in Australia #3: Perth City Farm

At the end of the free Yellow CAT bus line* just outside downtown Perth lies an urban oasis where once a polluted scrap metal yard stood: Perth City Farm. Their motto: “Working together to create greener cities and sustainable landscapes for the future.”

Perth City Farm

Perth City Farm, managed by the non-profit Men of the Trees, not only grows organic food in the city, but also hosts workshops, seminars, art galleries, and group events. Local volunteers and those seeking training or experience tend the gardens and cafe. The founder’s dream was to create “… a place in the city with a nursery, gardens, soup kitchens; a whole educational facility where young people could tend plants, meet each other, learn skills and find respect for themselves.”

perth-city-farm-men-of-the-trees perth-city-farm-inside

The Farm hosts a Saturday morning market featuring food and personal and household products from ethical and sustainable growers and producers, and has a popular onsite cafe serving simple breakfasty fare. I visited the cafe on a Monday afternoon, the first day they were open after a 3-week holiday, to find that they’d closed a bit early due to low traffic. It turned out the farm itself is closed on Mondays so I couldn’t observe the workers bustling around–which actually was nice in that I could stroll through the quiet gardens all alone. So even though I didn’t get to try any of the cafe’s food, the trip definitely was not a bust.

perth-city-farm-inside-seating perth-city-farm-inside-path

The Farm’s Facebook page is updated often with hours, events, and photos.

*CAT buses run four free loops within the city. Best part: most people, when exiting the bus, called out “thank you!” to the driver, who thanked them right back. It’s the little things, people!

HP in Australia #2: Perth

Perth is a peaceful, clean, easy to navigate playground for outdoor activities, with its river setting, biking and running paths, and ubiquitous green spaces, capped off by the enormous (larger than Central Park) Kings Park. It’s not all about fresh air though: go downtown Saturday night for some fantastic people-watching, as the ladies (oddly, it really is just the ladies) get all gussied up to hit the bars. Pro tip: don’t wear flip flops if you go out in the evenings, as most places have a dress code banning them.

Favorite things about Perth:

Jacob's Ladder

The view from Jacob's Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder, a popular workout location, is 242 stairs leading straight up to near the entrance to Kings Park. Go there early to share a great workout and fabulous views with half of Perth’s population. You will be sore for days.Lemon scented gum trees

Lemon-scented gum trees smell amazing and have a unique look. Find the column above at the entrance to Kings Park.

Western Australia coat of arms

In the Western Australia government coat of arms, the kangaroos are holding boomerangs!

wild kangaroos

Wild kangaroos! A thoughtful local took us to a lovely park-like cemetery north of Perth to do some kangaroo-spotting. They were all over the place, lounging in the shade and nibbling the grass.

Perth bike lanes

Extensive bike lanes follow the river, and lead into and around the city for bike commuters, bike sightseers, runners and walkers. Remember to stay in the left lane!

Australian raven

Perth coat of arms

The crows (actually ravens) here have the oddest voices, sort of like a long, strangled goat bleat–especially amusing when you get the Doppler effect from a flying crow. The birds around here are fantastic in general.

Friday food market

Twilight Hawkers Market in downtown Perth every Friday night serves tasty global street food in a festive atmosphere. Favorite stall (visually–we didn’t eat there): a French place that had a red carpet and chandelier.

I have a couple HP-relevant post planned, so this is just random travel musings; but I am happy to report the free range trend seems to be just as strong here as in Sydney!