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Top 5 Local Food Products

The local and sustainable food movement is not a new one, but for the last few years the interest here in Houston has grown as more and more chefs and restaurants have really begun to prominently feature and use local foods. The term "local" is still loosely interpreted, but in most instances it is food grown within a 100- to 150-mile radius and spends no more than a day on a delivery truck. The basic ideology is "food produced as close to home as possible."

I've always loved going to farmers' markets and picking up great local finds, and I was like a kid in a candy store on my first trip to Revival Market. It had a lot of old favorites, and I also made new discoveries of products made in Houston's own backyard -- or just a quick trip down the highway. Here are my top picks for local products.

5. Lavande - About an hour outside of Houston, in Bellville, is a lavender farm run by Houstonian Craig Stewart and his wife. They make a terrific lavender seasoning rub and lavender sugar. Lavender is a very fragrant herb and, when used sparingly, can add great flavor to poultry and fish. For those who prefer their lavender in candles and lotions, they have those as well. I usually find their stand at the Houston Farmers Market.

4. Bee Wilde - There's nothing like fresh honey. It's an excellent all-natural replacement for sugar and other sweeteners. I like to dip my fruit in it, and I use honey on waffles and pancakes instead of syrup. The Reed Family in Montgomery, Texas produces delicious honey and even sells fresh honeycomb. And you can't beat the fact that it comes in the bear-shaped squeezable jar we are all familiar with. You can find them at the Urban Harvest.

3. Katz Coffee - Katz is one of the most well-known local products and for good reason -- Avi Katz knows his coffee. Katz Coffee continues to grow in the number of blends offered and the number of Houston establishments that serve it. My favorite is the Ethiopia Harrar, a dark blend with spicy notes. You can find Katz at most of the farmers' markets and at Whole Foods.

2. Slow Dough Bread Co. - If you've been out to eat in the last few days, then you've most likely had some form of baked good from Marlo Evans and Heath Wendell. A number of Houston's finest restaurants are supplied by Slow Dough. Pick up one of their baguettes along with a few slices of prosciutto at Revival Market for the perfect afternoon snack. And you've gotta try the pretzels!

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1. Fresh Produce - You could almost turn a steadfast meat eater into a vegetarian if you gave them fresh fruit and vegetables everyday. It's amazing how different a salad can taste when the produce gets picked and eaten that very same day. It can't get any more local or healthy than having your own garden, but if that's not possible, the local farmers' market has everything you need.

What local gems have you found?


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