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What natural/wild foods have you discovered in Florida?

in the Tampa bay region there are have many opportunities for locally raised, grass fed beef, start with "My Mother's Garden", an organic grower who has contacts with beef ranchers in the area. She is at the Sarasota Farmers' Market, Saturdays. Also The King Family Farm in Bradenton can suggest many resources for pastured poultry, eggs, pork and beef. they are open, at the farm from Tues. to Sat. 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Also if you are pressed for time and cannot catch your own seafood; A.P. Bell, Cortez will sell individual whole Grouper, (Reds, Gags, Blacks and occasionally Yellow Edge), at $4.00-$6.50/lb, "on the bone", One can call and find out what boats are unloading that day, some are day boats, and others are longliners.

I am working on meeting a young couple that makes cheese from their organic dairy herd, will let Florida CH know once I have more info. on this. I have purchased pastured chickens, dressed large fryers, in a town called Gulf City, it is just a crossroad near Ruskin, from a farmer who specializes in naturally raised Heritage Turkeys," Bouirbon Reds", for Thanksgiving;Pate's Farm, Gulf City.
Overall, getting back to alternatives to Tilapia and other "Factory farmed" fish and/or animals if you look and ask there are more and more ways to get really good tasting, Organic and/or naturally raised food with the added benefit of seeing and knowing what you are eating, is raised/grown.Any others care to "share" their finds????

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  1. thanks for that list, Osprey -- I've saved this thread so that if and when I ever return to the Bay area (even if just for a few weeks to see my folks) -- I've got it at my fingertips.

    Does My Mother's Garden still have their buying co-op going? I remember when they first started their business, and I bought a lot of herbs from them.

    You have to have it shipped, but Sweet Grass Dairy up by Thomasville makes some of the best cheeses I've had in the US.

    Hydro Harvest Farms (on Shell Point Rd and 12th St NE in Ruskin) grows some killer-gorgeous nearly-organic veggies (they grow everything in vermiculite, but they won't certify vermiculite as organic) and I just saw that they're now carrying free-range eggs, and I'm pretty sure I remember seeing local honey on the shelf, too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sunshine842

      Sunshine842....Thanks for the info. I did not know about Hydro Harvest. Going to King Farm today for the local peaches, Blueberries and Heirloom tomatos, all in "full harvest mode"!!

    2. I took a fascinating field trip to visit Roy Burns, "the huitlacoche guy" in Groveland to visit his huitlacoche operation, one of very few in the U.S., and had a rare opportunity to try the genuine article in its very brief seasons, one in summer and a more robust harvest in October when there has been more rain. I returned with 6 ears of fresh and 3 pounds of frozen, and enjoyed it thoroughly. Plus, Roy is a riot.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Veggo

        Wow! that is a new one on me, will check it out Roy as Groveland is under 3 hours drive for me.

        Went to King Farm this A.M. Peaches are great, peak of harvest, some really good Chard, their Blueberries are beautiful and $#.50/lb will start with the "Pick Your Own" Peaches and Blueberries next week; they have pick your own flowers now, Snap Dragons, Sun Flowers, etc. Heirloom Tomatoes in many varieties, Cherry to big slicing typesof Yellow, Zebra, Purple, and Reds.

        They even have a deal with a mariculture guy in Terra Ceia to sell his clams 50 for $13.99 or 100 for $25.00. Overall it was a good morning with plenty of fruits and veg. to start the week!!!

        1. re: Veggo

          Hey Veggo! I had to google this - it sounds ...umm...interesting. Do you eat the corn also or just the fungus? How did you prepare it and how was it? Sounds like it would be strong tasting. Funny that they call it "corn smut" LOL...

          Good explanation here:
          http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-huitl...

          1. re: joan

            Joan, huitlacoche is great. You can find it in cans in many mexican grocery stores. I am sure it is much better fresh, but at least you well get a sense of the flavor. I have mostly had it as a filling in quesadillas. I bet there are other fun things you can do with it. I am also curious about how Veggo made use of his 3 lbs.

            1. re: joan

              One eats just the fungus and it pops off the ear easily and cleanly, save for a few strands of corn silk. The nubs range in size from the last joint of your little finger to the end of your thumb. My 6 ears of fresh yielded a pound or more of huitlacoche. While fresh, I sauteed several batches in oil or butter. It cooks down substantially, maybe by 2/3, for the high water content, higher in the fall crop. It begins a dark silvery blue and becomes jet black as it oozes its contents. It's flavor alone is surprisingly mild, and needs to marry up with other, stronger flavors - garlic, onion, chilies. It made for great omelettes with swiss cheese, quesadillas, and some rudimentary enchiladas. My ladyfriend's casserole in Mexico I simply don't know how to duplicate. It was awesome and is what turned me on to the subject. I included some (by now frozen and thawed) in my Thanksgiving dressing along with my customary chestnuts and oysters and it was a huge hit. I experimented with a small batch of huitlacoche soup but haven't developed a complement of additional flavorings. Sweet corn would of course be a natural. A few Mayan glyphs of mexican crema on the dark soup at plating would be a nice touch.

              Alas, my 3 pounds of frozen is in a freezer in Florida and I probably won't get back until fall.

              Roy's spring crop may be just about ready. Leave him a message @ 352-429-4048, he will call you back.

              1. re: Veggo

                Thanks, that was very interesting. I will definitely have to give Roy a visit. The stuffing sounded great. It's a shame that Thanksgiving is so far away.

                1. re: Veggo

                  Thanks, Veggo and CFishman too. Sounds tasty, I will have to try it.

                    1. re: ospreycove

                      Ospreycove, this is a great thread. I am glad you started it. I have been collecting links of places I want to go to. I thought I would add them to the mix even though I have yet to try the products:

                      Pork: Palmetto Creek Farms- http://www.bestpork.us/Home_Page.html
                      Lamb and Beef: Deep Creek Ranch- http://www.deepcreekranch.us/
                      Chicken and Duck: Lake Meadow Naturals- http://www.lakemeadownaturals.net/
                      Goat and Sheep: Golden Acres Ranch- http://www.goldenacresranchflorida.com/
                      Rabbit: Seely's Ark- http://www.ssawg.org/seely.html

                      1. re: CFishman

                        I am in complete awe of y'all -- I looked for years and years for stuff like this and just gave up.

                        I'm glad to see so *many* small family farms and cross my fingers that they'll continue to succeed (and promise to try to buy from a few next time I'm home).

            2. Heh, when you say natural/wild foods, I automatically think of pig and deer hunting in Central and North Florida, fishing in the Bay, or frog gigging down at Lake Okeechobee.

              Outside of that, we hit the Cognito farms guys up a couple of times when we went up to the Union Street Market in Gainesville. The free range pork is good, but it cost a pretty penny. And that was even after I haggled them down a few dollars in price.
              http://www.cognitofarm.com/Cognito_Fa...

              1. We like Winter Park Dairy's cheeses - we buy them at the Winter Park farmer's market, which is open on Saturdays. Their claim to fame, according to their website, is that they are Florida's first 100% raw milk cheesemaker:
                http://www.winterparkdairy.com/
                Cheers!
                Heather W

                1 Reply
                1. re: hmp2z

                  Uh Oh, I see another road trip in my future!!!!

                  Thanks, for the info. hmp2z!!