Support your farmer’s markets and local food artisans!
Local fresh produce is best however, frozen is a very close second choice. Frozen produce is harvested at it’s peak and frozen within 1 – 2 days. Conventional and organic produce found in grocery markets, unless it is local, can travel over 1,000 miles. That produce is picked before it’s peak and ripens en route to your local store. The concentration of vitamins and nutrients may be lower than produce that is local fresh or frozen.
June marks the launch of farmer’s market’s! While it is still early in the season there are a variety of lettuces, kale, onions, carrots, and fresh herbs available. Local food artisans often complement local produce by offering local cheeses, jams and more. Each week my husband and I look forward to new arrivals.
Here are my tips to navigate a farmer’s market and take the most of your experience.
- Do a little research to find out what produce is available in our area.
- Check-out cookbooks and the web for recipe ideas.
- Bring cash to the market, smaller bills are always welcome.
- Bring re-usable grocery bags.
- As the weather heats up, bring an insulated cooler bag with 1 – 2 ice packs.
- Before you shop, walk the market and enjoy talking to the various farmers.
- Ask questions regarding the types of pesticides they use, location of their farm, what is in season and if they have any recipes.
- Shop for non-perishables first.
- When you get home, store perishables as recommended by the farmers. Most produce does not require refrigeration, however, always check.
- Try something new each month, expand your palate!
- Beware of market booths that offer a variety of products that have been purchased from a distributor. Those booths typically carry tropical fruits and veggies along with conventional produce not grown in the area.
YOUR SUMMER CHALLENGE!
Create your very own farm to table dinner. You are only allowed to use produce, meats, cheeses and other products grown or made within a 100 mile radius. Create colorful menu cards for your guests that outline each course and the farm.
Experiment and have fun!!
RECIPE: Quinoa Salad
During the hot summer months I prefer to avoid potato and macaroni salads laden with mayonnaise. Quinoa is a nutritious grain that can be served hot or cold. There are two varieties; red heirloom and white. Dress the salad with lemon and a cold pressed olive oil. Season with fresh herbs to complement the veggie or fruit medley of your choice.
- Rinse the grains carefully in a strainer
- Soak grains in cold water for 20 – 30 minutes
- Prepare quinoa as directed on package (I substitute low sodium chicken or veggie broth for water)
- Refrigerate for 1+ hours (good for 3 days if stored in air tight container)
Create a savory or sweet medley to add to the quinoa:
– Greek style: sliced grape tomatoes, chopped cucumber/nicoise olives/feta cheese
– Roasted Asparagus/Red pepper/goat cheese/fresh parsley
– Mandarin orange slices/slivered almonds/craisins/squeeze of fresh orange
– Serve salad immediately or refrigerate and serve at a later time.