A Day at the Farmer's Market
Hands down my most valued source for purchasing organic fruits and vegetables is the local farmer's market. Years of seeking out the best ingredients whether for a restaurant menu or meal for 2, price and quality is proven over and over again when I give my dollars to support local farmers who exemplify care and integrity for the food system.
It's my go-to source for stocking a kitchen with staple vegetables, the best local raw honey, artisanal bread and scoring seasonal/ heirloom varieties (old/non-hybrid cultivars of plants that have been passed from farmer to farmer over generations) that tend to not be sold at most local grocery stores.
The thing is, discovering the diversity of foods can be the most fun and rewarding part about learning what and how to cook. The next time you're presented with a rutabaga you'll know exactly what to do with it. Even the coveted national chain Whole Foods Market tends to carry the basic most familiar varieties of organic and conventionally grown (non-organic certified) seasonal vegetables.
i want to help make your trip to the local farmer's market as easy as possible. Check out my list of shopping tips below and a sample grocery list.
1. Make A List: Don't get lost in the sauce. Save time and energy by knowing what you need before you get there.
2. Do A Walk Thru: If it's your first time visiting a market, give each stand a "once over" before making your first purchase unless you're sure of the vendors you wish to support. Compare appearance, price and pesticide use. The goal is to get the best deal for the best product.
3. Know Your Farmer & Ask Questions: "Do you use pesticides on your produce?" "I'm unfamiliar with this vegetable, how do you suggest I cook this?"
4. Negotiate: If you're looking to buy in bulk or a dollar short, vendors want to make a sale don't be afraid to ask for a deal.
5. Cash Is King: Don't forget to stop at the ATM before heading to the market. Many vendors only accept cash. It's easier for them on the back end and also helps to keep you on a budget.
6. BYOB: Bring Your Own Bag. Let's practice eco-consciousness at all opportunities. Bringing re-usable bags to the market is always a plus.
Below is a list of easily found market staples. It's a good starting point to help get your kitchen stocked with plant foods enabling you to whip up a quick meal packed with flavor supported by fresh herbs.
1. Leafy Greens: kale, collard greens, chard, arugula, spinach (to be eaten raw and sautéed)
2. Potatoes: white and sweet
3. Tomatoes: (seasonal) large heirloom, cherry
4. Onions: red, white, sweet, shallots
6. Herbs: parsley, cilantro, basil (Thai and Italian)
7. Squash: (seasonal) butternut, acorn
8. Root Vegetables: carrots, beets
9. Fruit: (seasonal/imported) lemon, oranges, apples,
10. Avocado: (seasonal/imported depending upon location)
11. Raw Honey