Fresh on the table

Most college campuses offer pizza, burgers, sandwiches, and don’t forget the “all-you-can-eat” cafeteria options complete with soda, desserts, and ice cream. Lack of variety, freshness, and healthy choices at meal times for on and off campus options is a concern of college kids.

One way you can ensure a healthy lifestyle is by eating local fresh foods.

When shopping for local foods in your grocery store look for the Appalachian Grown logo to help ensure you're eating truly local food from Western North Carolina

When looking for a place to dine think local. Guadalupe Café and City Lights Café in Sylva are places in our town sure to be serving fresh food. Locally grown and produced greens and vegetables, dairy products, fish, and beer are options you can choose from any time of the week. Guadalupe Café and City Lights Café are Appalachian Grown™ certified restaurants. This certification guarantees the products used to create your meal were raised or produced on farms in Western North Carolina by partnering with the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP).

“As a college student in a rural area, it can be difficult to find locally sourced food that fits within a budget,” said WCU student Briton Bennett. “Guadalupe Café actually provides great tasting food at a relatively reasonable price, and it’s locally sourced.  It gives me the satisfaction of knowing I am supporting local businesses, which in the end is the best thing I can do to help those in my community.”

Located in downtown Sylva, Guadalupe Café’s menu consists of a variety of Caribbean- style cuisine. Plantains, jerk chicken, and desserts are just a few items featured on their menu. If you choose to dine with them on Tuesdays you can enjoy the sounds of live Bluegrass music while drinking fair-trade coffee or wine. Check out their menu for a complete listing of meals as well as to view their commitment to serving local foods, organic foods, and free-range animal products.

Seasonal fruits and vegetables are always changing. Visit the Jackson County Farmer's Market to find out what you can buy now, as well as what will be next. - Photo by Meredith Oakley

City Lights Café is also located in downtown Sylva near First United Methodist Church.  Vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan meals are all available options when dining with them. Enjoy breakfast at any time of the day with a crepe, waffle, or yogurt parfait made the way you want it. Lunch and dinner are also an option at City Lights. Pasta, salads, Paninis, and local beers and wines can be found for dining in or take-out. Local honeys, wines, and desserts are for sale as well.

Cooking with local ingredients can seem impossible while living on a college budget, but that’s not true. Every Saturday the Jackson County Farmers Market is open for business, providing in season fruits and vegetables as well as crackers and bread, honeys, salsas, salads dressings, jams and jellies, and even meats and cheeses. You can place your order for meats, fish, and eggs as well if they are not available.

Jackie Hooper of Shared Blessings Farm in Cullowhee sales her produce and eggs year round at the Jackson County Farmers Market.

“People don’t realize a lot of the food they eat is local.  We sell our eggs to Annie’s Bakery in downtown Sylva and our produce and eggs to Guadalupe Café,”  Hooper says.

From April until October the tailgate market is located every Saturday outdoors in Downtown Sylva at Pavilion Park.  From November until March the market is located every other Saturday at St. John’s Episcopal Church in downtown Sylva. For specific times you can visit their Facebook page.

“During the summer, one of my favorite things to do is go to the farmers market on Saturday mornings,” Bennett said.  “The selection of locally sourced food is always great and the prices, comparatively speaking, are even better. I would much rather purchase produce from a local farm, than to purchase produce from a chain grocer,  which I might add is the only other option in my town.”

If you’re not sure how to cook what is in season, as well as how to cook with local foods, let ASAP help you out. Visiting the recipes section on their website will provide you the option to choose recipes specific to which local foods you have.  Also, visit the website to find other restaurants in Western North Carolina serving Appalachian Grown™ products.

For more information on how you can eat local and why you should, visit ASAP’s website and blog ( or by visiting your local tailgate market.