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Honoring Okra

Posted on August 27th, 2020 by Lilly Emendy

Yes, yes I know. For some of you Okra is and has been a non-starter for a long time. And no, I don't expect to write a few sentences and see you all jumping over to this side of the okra patch, nibbling on the raw pod with all of it's crunch and complexity. BUT, I do hope you'll hear me out. This is why we grow okra...

1) It loves growing in NC. Part of our farm mission is to focus on sustainable practices. Caring for the earth, for our labor force, for our community, and the ecosystem that surrounds us. An important strategy to achieve those goals is to grow plants and specific varieties that actually want to grow in this hardiness zone, in this soil, with this particular population of pests and insects and disease. And 'clemson spinelss' okra is as about as hardy and happy as you get.

2) We aim to grow culturally appropriate foods. What many of us think of as true "Southern American" food is at it's core, directly linked to the foodways of many African countries; introduced to this part of the world through the enslavement and exploitation of African people. These foodways converged with Indigenous foodways, which converged with colonial foodways and over the centuries produced what we think of as the modern southern fare. Okra is central to this story. If food history interests you, check out Michael Twitty:

3) Okra is an underappreciated SUPERFOOD. Within its star shaped walls is a serious source of vitamin C and K1 and a notable amount of protein, fiber, magnesium folate, vitamin A, and vitamin B6.

4) When we talk about food as medicine, okra is a prime example. Okra is full of nutrients and vitamins essential for our well being and okra connects us to our shared history. When you grow it yourself, you also receive the gift of bounty as the seeds are incredibly easy to save and you are always left with an abundance to share and save for the next year. 

Check out this recipe that incorporates eggplant as well:


Thanks for indulging me, it is The Teaching Farm after all. And for those of you who love and appreciate this vegetable already, I see you! Let's share in our love of this gift from the earth and eat some delicious late summer food.