Showing posts with label Farmers Markets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Farmers Markets. Show all posts

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Eating for the Seasons

Also known as eating seasonally, "eating for the seasons" is an idea that promotes eating and cooking foods that are harvested and available seasonally, rather than eating things that are available year-round. In addition, a special emphasis is placed on foods that are locally grown.

Need some ideas for seasonal eating and cooking? Read on.

Why is eating for the season important?

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is important to your health. Experts believe if you’re eating seasonally, you are more likely to be consuming your daily share of fruits and veggies.
Eating locally grown foods may offer you more nutrients, while supporting local farmers. It's a win-win!
 Eating seasonally supports your body’s changing seasonal needs. Ayurvedic medicine supports the idea that your body’s needs change seasonally. There’s a reason you’re drawn to lighter foods during the warmer months, while you crave heartier meals during colder months.
Eating seasonally can result in cost savings, too, if you grow your own produce.

What are some examples of eating for the season?

1. Fresh salads are popular during the warmer summer months when a variety of salad greens and vegetables are plentiful.
2. Root vegetables such as beets, turnips, and carrots are great for you during the transition from warmer to cooler weather. These veggies are harvested during the fall months.
3. Soups, chili, and stews are hearty meals that offer you the warmth and nutrients you need during the damp, chilly months.

How can you include seasonal foods in your family’s meals?

Check out your local farmers' market to see what’s in season.
Refer to food charts for help determining what food items are available when.
Find ways to add seasonal ingredients to basic recipes. For example, seasonal berries make a nice addition to a salad in the summer months, while apple slices and cranberries are a nice supplement in the fall.

Recipe ideas

Looking for some delicious recipes for seasonal favorites?  Check out these ideas:

Want to try a hearty pumpkin soup?

Interested in making a tasty kale salad?

Here are some interesting ways to use asparagus in your meals.

Find other unique ways to use veggies on our blog.

Where can I learn more?

Check out Sustainable Table, which allows you to find foods in season in your particular area. There are listings for local farmers, too.
Cookbooks offer recipes and ideas for cooking for each season.
Visit CUESA for seasonal recipes and ideas.

Eating and cooking seasonally can be a healthy way of eating for your family, great for the local economy, and a fun lifestyle to adopt.  Experiment with new foods, new recipes, and enjoy all that seasonal eating has to offer!

Do you have your own ideas or recipes for season eating and cooking? Feel free to share!

Live Healthy. Live Smart.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Exploring Local Farmers’ Markets

If you are anything like me, the words “Farmers’ Market” fills your mind with images of brightly colored vegetables and fruits, fresh meat recently butchered by hand, and various garden and kitchen sundries waiting for discovery.  Fresh air filled with scents of home-cooking flutters your (recycled) bags full of homegrown goodness, and you return home with recipe ideas to try and perhaps a new fruit or vegetable to explore.

Apples at farmers market

Alas, that all Farmers’ markets were such troves of treasure. I recently stopped by a Farmers’ market that offered little more than 8 stands, two with fruits and vegetables, and the rest were prepackaged foods, sugar-laden desserts, and a knife-sharpening kiosk. I came away less than thrilled. What makes a Farmers’ market great? What sets them apart?

Some Farmers’ markets focus more on price than others. Some offer a large array of vendors who have foods that might be very similar (if not the same) as the ones in your grocery store. Other markets include a lot of local, organic vendors. Some markets include crafters and antique sellers, giving them more of a flea market feel. The best way to tell the difference is to visit and take a walk around. Not sure where the local Farmers’ markets are in your area? Check out Local Harvest and for local listings, or stop by a health food store near you.

There’s no “right” kind of Farmers’ market, but if you are searching for locally grown, sustainably harvested foods, grass-fed and pastured protein sources, and perhaps a good deal as well, here are a few tips to help you find the right stuff.

Look for quality, but watch the price. As much as I love homegrown vegetables, I also have a budget to mind. So when you arrive at the market, tour the vendors and note what they have available. Take a look at their price lists. Did they come in from quite a distance?  You might see their transportation costs play out in their prices. And if you plan to stock up, you can ask if they’ll offer a discount. Many are happy to offer a small discount for someone purchasing in bulk.

Kale at farmers market

Special requests. If you are looking for something specific and can’t find it, don’t hesitate to ask the vendor if they can get it for you. Often, they bring with them what sells the most but are happy to provide a future loyal customer with whatever they might need. For example, today I was searching for pasture-raised lard (rendered pork fat), and no one had it. However, one vendor was thrilled to bring it the following weekend for me.

Pay attention to time. If you go to a Farmers’ market later in the day, about an hour from closing time, you tend to get better deals. The vendors mark down their bounty so they can pack less to take home. But it also means that you are left with what everyone else didn’t want. For example, if you have your heart set on sweet corn or a fresh head of endive, you probably should arrive at the start of the market day to get the best pick.

Strawberries at farmers market

Ask questions. I recently went to a huge Farmers’ market. I was so in awe of the size that it took a while for me to realize that much of the food was not homemade. Rather, it came out of huge tubs that they’d bulk ordered from a manufacturer. Most of the vendors will be up front with what they’ve made or raised themselves, and what they purchased from a supplier. If you are looking for things that are homemade with wholesome ingredients, make sure to ask a lot of questions. And if you are buying a cut of meat and you aren’t sure how to cook it, ask the butcher! They can advise you on proper heat settings and times to ensure you get the most enjoyment out of your purchase.

Farmers’ markets are a wonderful way to connect with nature and support local businesses, not to mention an enjoyable way to spend your morning, whether you go alone or with a friend. Check out what’s in your area, and let us know how you make out!

Contributing Writer

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Savings at the Farmer's Market

Farmer's Market Stand
Ma & Pa produce stand that gets the job done.
I have to be honest with you that I am not a big Farmer's Market shopper.  Mainly because I live in a small rural community and we don't have the big demand for it and we only have a Farmer's Market every weekend.  I know, CRAZY!!!  Not to mention Safeway is only a 30 second drive and when I am in the mood for some good veggies and fruit I don't want to wait for the weekend.  What we do have are the Ma and Pa farms with fruit stands that you can go to and purchase all the fresh produce you want and also plenty of flowers and some nuts.  You can even purchase homemade salsa that will please your taste buds.

fruit produce
Fresh wholesale fruits are a great find.
When I started on my 40 minute trip to the local Farmer's Market to see what kind of money saving tips I could tell everyone, I really didn't know what to expect.  I was actually pleasantly surprised when I got there and saw all the variety of home grown and wholesale products that was offered to me.  When I think of a Farmer's Market I think of fruits and vegetables with maybe some flowers.  To my pleasant surprise it had everything I could think of.  From the typical farm produce you see at market stands to wine, cooking oil, eggs, jams, chocolates, and seaweed.  You name it they had it.  As for the prices, their farm fresh produce wasn't much different from the grocery store prices.  There were some things that were cheaper like my favorite zucchini (3 for $1), plums (.99 per pound), nuts ($1.99 per bag, awesome) and  the flowers (.10 per flower).  I also bought some nectarines for $1.99 per pound which I thought was a good deal since that is what I usually get it for at the grocery store when they are on sale.  I actually went to the store that same day to pick up some things and saw them on sale for .99 per pound.  So that ended up not being better but the Farmer's Market nectarines were locally grown and fresher so it wasn't a complete bust.

Farmers market Flowers
Money saving finds in fresh flowers, produce.
I did notice that there were some big price differences with the flowers, nuts, jams, local wines, and homemade products.  I think I would just go every weekend to purchase those products.  I am not a big flower person but when I saw all the different types, I think I became one.  You can do so many different arrangements on your own and save big bucks.  I purchased a bundle of flowers for $2.00, YES $2.00.  That same bouquet at the flower or grocery store would have been at least $20.00.  Just on that savings alone you can pay a little extra for your fruit and vegetables and do all your shopping in one place.  As for the local wines we live just North of Napa Valley so we are still considered wine territory and there are always good deals on the local wines.

Wines, Vinegars, Farmers Market
Great sauces, wines, and oils were
throughout the Farmer's Market with great prices!
The bottom line on saving at the Farmer's Market is that it all depends on what you buy.  If you are going there solely to buy produce you may not save much. If you are going there to just check things out and browse around and see what kind of deals you can get you will save. I personally just liked the atmosphere of the Farmer's Market and I would go just for that alone.  As for the fresh fruits and vegetables I would purchase what I could get for a good deal since my family isn't too picky and whatever I brought home they would eat without any complaints.

The Farmer's Market was very lively but quaint at the same time and not to mention smelled great.  When I left I felt healthier and more peaceful for some reason.  Call it coincidence or maybe since I knew I was buying healthier and giving back to my community I felt better about myself.  Just that alone will get me back to the Farmer's Market next week.

Contributing Writer