So, just what is a CSA, anyway? The letters stand for Community Supported Agriculture. Here’s a basic definition: “CSA is a partnership of mutual commitment between a farm and a community of supporters which provides a direct link between the production and consumption of food. Supporters cover a farm’s yearly operating budget by purchasing a share of the season’s harvest.”

It’s a way to get your own box of fresh stuff, every week, during the farm’s season. Most often, you pay up front, which gives your local farmer some operating capital.

I got that first definition from, and you can read more about it there. Also, you can enter your ZIP code and the site will link you to farms in your area that have CSAs. Even thought it’s the middle of winter, farmers are thinking about their upcoming season’s planting, and possibly selling shares. Farmers’ markets are another great place to find CSAs. Check out your local market in person or online; many have links to participating farms, and you can start your search there. (Click here for a list of Triangle-area farmers’ markets.)

No more Orangina: Weaver Street Market (101 E. Weaver St., Carrboro, 929-0010, has banned both high fructose corn syrup and trans fats from its shelves. The reason? They’re unhealthy, wrote general manager Ruffin Slater in announcing the decision. “Research from the Institute of Medicine has shown that trans fats are associated directly with heart disease … linked to increased levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) and reduced ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL), as well as increased coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, and gall stones.” Yikes. Slater says this about HFCS: “Researchers have linked high fructose corn syrup to obesity, especially in children, and to a wide range of health disorders. They contend that high fructose corn syrup has no nutritional value, does not satisfy hunger, and may prompt the body to crave more sweets.”

Poole’s Diner (426 S. McDowell St., Raleigh, 832-4477, is open again in Raleigh, and this time it’s run by Chef Ashley Christensen, also of Enoteca Vin. Poole’s is her first solo venture. The menu at Poole’s has a strong focus on local, organic ingredients, and “offers seasonal dishes with a Southern-meets-French flair.” For example: roasted pumpkin soup with toasted pistachios, crispy frog legs with fried herbs, venison meatloaf with red dragon cheese open-faced on challah, and fried flounder with tomato slaw. Christensen preserved the luncheonette’s popular double-horseshoe shaped bar, red banquettes and stools, but eliminated the kitsch and clutter from previous incarnations.

Here’s what Christensen had to say about the first month in business: “We are very fortunate to already have a core group of regulars and guests who we see at least once a week. Because of Poole’s history dating back to the late ’40s, our patrons over the course of an evening range from 20-somethings to 70-somethings, and all seem proud to call a piece of it their own.”

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