“It’s kind of like a mini version of 'Chopped,'” said Cherie Michaud, a member of the Junior League of Orange and Durham Counties. “You have to go to the farmers' market the week before and use the products from the farmers' market.”
Michaud has entered the contest before and sees the contest not only as an opportunity for local bakers to test their skills, but also as a way to promote local produce. Michaud said the Junior League was happy to sponsor the contest, since local produce plays such a key role in the group’s mission.
“That’s a big reason why we partner with the Chapel Hill Farmers' Market — because we help collect food donations,” Michaud said.
Claudia Sanders is a board member and volunteer for the Chapel Hill Farmers' Market and helped plan the market’s first pie contest.
Sanders, who works as a personal chef, said she has avoided grocery stores and shopped only at farmers' markets and local produce stands for years. Sanders stressed the importance of supporting local business by shopping local, as well as the environmental benefits of local produce’s reduced shipping costs.
“I challenged myself around eight years ago to stop buying food at the grocery store and start cooking just what I found at the farmers' market because I wanted to eat really well,” Sanders said.
Though farmers' markets may not always be the most readily available food option, Sanders said the Chapel Hill Farmers' Market has worked to improve access by accepting Electronic Benefits Transfers and food stamps.
Kate Underhill, the Chapel Hill Farmers' Market’s manager, stands by the produce she sells as better-tasting and longer-lasting than what might be found in a grocery store. In addition, Underhill said promoting local produce can help a community in other ways.
“Supporting local farmers and artisans at the farmers' market is keeping money within our local economy and supporting your neighbors,” Underhill said.