Monday, July 5, 2010

Food Sources: Farmer's Markets

CSAs are a great way to connect to your local food source.  Another way is through the farmer's markets in your area.  At farmer's markets, local farmers bring their wares to a specific location
 and members of the community show up at the predetermined time to purchase these products directly from the source.

While on our trip across the country, we visited the farmer's market in Salt Lake City, Utah.  This weekend we rode our bikes to a local farmer's market in Mountain View, California.

Like CSAs, farmer's markets offer the opportunity to see what is in season and to buy your food directly from the grower.  Unlike CSAs, you have a choice of what you purchase rather than accepting what is harvested that week by the farm with which you have a contract.  For those unable to consume a random box of produce or unwilling to deal with the unplanned variation, farmer's markets are the best choice.

A few benefits of farmer's markets include:
  • Recently harvested, local food in the peak of season.  Food purchased at your local supermarket are harvested early and shipped across unknown distances.
  • Investment in your community.  Not only do the dollars you spend at your farmer's market stay in the area, they create jobs in the area.
  • Inexpensive, high quality food.  We found produce at 1/3 the cost of our local grocery store, and in far better condition.
  • Knowledge.  Often you'll meet the farmer.  It's a great opportunity to ask questions and learn more about your food.
There are many more reasons to visit your local farmer's market.  What's in season in your area?  What do you appreciate about your farmer's market?

    Grilled Farmer's Market Bruschetta ~ Early July 2010

    1 pint cherry tomatoes
    1 clove garlic
    2/3t culinary salt, such as Maldon
    rustic loaf of bread, we chose an olive loaf
    olive oil

    Start your grill.  Halve the cherry tomatoes and place in a large bowl; add salt and stir.  Add the garlic, through a garlic press to the tomatoes and mix well.  Slice the basil into thin strips (chiffonade) and stir into the tomatoes.  Slice the bread ~ 1" thick and brush lightly with olive oil, set aside.

    Grill the bread until toasted to your liking.  Cut the grilled bread into individual portions and top with tomato mixture.  Enjoy!

    Grilled Farmer's Market Corn ~ Early July 2010

    1 ear of corn per person
    olive oil
    Aleppo pepper (any spicy, dried red pepper will do)

    Prepare your grill. Peel back the husk of the corn and remove the silk.  Brush each cob with olive oil, salt lightly, and sprinkle to taste with the pepper.  Wrap the husks back around the corn and place on the outside of the grill.  Turn the corn every 5 minutes or so for a total cooking time of 20 minutes.

    We also made a Wild Fennel Sorbet from the tops of the fennel we purchased on Sunday.

    Farmer's markets are a worthy stop, even if just to meet people who grow the food we all eat every day. Beyond that connection, you'll have access to a wealth of incredible food. Just take a look at the Flickr feed embedded above.

    To find a farmer's market in your area, just click here.

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