Do you shop at your local farmer’s market? If not, you should! I work at my local market on Sundays selling fermented foods – cucumber pickles (now that cucumbers are back in season), sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, etc. I love the products I help sell to folks, but I also really like to see what is in season from week to week and plan my meal prep for the week based on what I pick up at the market.
There are so many benefits to shopping at your local farmers market. Below are a few reasons why you should shop there, if you are not already:
- Farm Fresh – Fruits and vegetables at your local grocery story are often several days old before they reach your local produce aisle. Farmer’s market produce, on the other hand, is picked right before the market, so you know the food is fresh.
- Seasonal – Some nutritionists (including Lemma) and scientists suggest eating seasonally available foods is better for your body, but eating produce in season only makes sense. Lighter fruits and vegetables are available seasonally in the spring and summer, while heartier winter vegetables like squash and parsnips provide sustenance for the cooler autumn and winter months.
- More Nutritious – Compare the vivid colors of the produce at your local farmer’s market to produce at the grocery store, and you’ll see that the supermarket fruits and vegetables pale in comparison. Vivid colors in fruits and vegetables are a reflection of the nutrients they contain.
- Ripeness – Offerings at the farmer’s market are generally picked at the peak of their ripeness when the plants’ natural sugars are at their peak. Eating produce when it is ripe not only tastes better, but it also provides the best nutrition possible.
- Taste – Buy a tomato from the supermarket and a gorgeous heirloom tomato from the farmer’s market. Taste them side-by-side and see what you think. Produce from the farmer’s market almost always tastes better. This is because it is picked at the peak of ripeness and is incredibly fresh when it gets to you.
- Variety – Industrial farms tend to grow only a few varieties of popular vegetables. Small local farms, on the other hand, tend to favor variety, offering fruits and vegetables you just won’t be able to find in the produce section of your local supermarket.
- Supports Local Economies and Farms – Most farmer’s market produce is grown within 100 miles of the market. This means that the farms are a source of local jobs and likely to spend money they make on their produce in the local economy.
So how do you know when fruits and vegetables are in season? Check out this seasonal produce guide: https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide
I am also really into Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables, by Chef Joshua McFadden. Whenever I get something new and interesting at the farmers market, I look to see what recipes he suggests and how to cook the produce.
Some of my favorite vegetables that just came in season now are corn, eggplant, garlic scapes and summer squash!
Garlic scapes are the flower bud of the garlic plant. This bud is removed in late June to encourage the bulbs to thicken up. Scapes taste just like garlic! I got 4 bunches of scapes two weekends ago and I made a big batch of garlic scape pesto! You can also grill them up or use them to make marinades and vinaigrettes, too!
Garlic Scape Pesto (adapted from NYT Cooking)
Recipe Notes: If you don’t have sunflower seeds, you can also you roasted almonds or toasted pine nuts. I also usually end up doubling this recipe, depending on how many scapes I get at the market. If you are vegan, omit the parmesan or add a little nutritional yeast, instead.
YIELD: About 1 cup
TIME: 3 minutes
1 cup garlic scapes, sliced crosswise (about 10 to 12 scapes)
¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
½ cup basil leaves
Juice of one lemon
- Place the garlic scapes in a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds.
- Add the sunflower seeds and pulse for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the olive oil and process on high for 15 seconds.
- Add the Parmesan cheese and pulse until the ingredients are combined.
- Add the basil and lemon juice, and process until reaching the desired consistency.
- Add salt to taste and serve immediately.
Photo Source = The Prairie Homestead
I also really love fresh corn in the summer! My bestie, Amanda, is getting ready to move back to the West Coast to attend law school, so I wanted to feature one of her favorite summer recipes from Ina Garten – Fresh Corn Salad!
Fresh Corn Salad
Total Time:13 min (Prep: 10 min Cook: 3 min)
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
5 ears of corn, shucked
1/2 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the corn for 3 minutes until the starchiness is just gone.
- Drain and immerse it in ice water to stop the cooking and to set the color.
- When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob.
- Toss the kernels in a large bowl with the red onions, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Just before serving, toss in the fresh basil.
- Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.
Photo by Sarah 🙂
Post by Sarah