August 5-11, 2019
One reward we receive for our work is the enthusiastic feedback from our customers at the farmer’s market. We see and hear how excited they are to have access to such beautiful foods to prepare as they share stories with us about how wonderful the previous week’s purchases pleased their palates. Interest in wholesome organic foods crosses cultural and socio-economic boundaries, so we enjoy conversations about recipes that go in wildly diverse directions. These connections with people inspire us to continue to work hard at our job, and to be the best farmers we can be. In that vein, we would like to share some tips on how to shop the farmer’s market and eat seasonally with style.
We notice how shoppers approach the farmer’s market with different strategies. Some folks come with list in hand, while others craft menus in their heads as they make their way to the market. Another strategy is to take in the entire market with a bagel or a steaming cup of coffee. Note, this strategy is effective early in the day, but savvy customers know that some prize finds will be gone if they lollygag about too long.
It is hard to watch when someone finds out that a key item on their list is not available. They kinda shudder, look past us at the tubs or trays to be sure we are sure, and then give a long look at the list as if it has no meaning anymore. Do arrive early in the day to head off such disappointments, and as CSA shareholders you have a leg up on knowing all the seasonal possibilities.
Creating a list can also be a means to stay on budget. Nothing encourages us more than seeing young couples with young children rationing their hard-earned dollars on tasty organic produce, investing in their long-term health. It’s easy to get carried away with all the colors and smells going on at the market and make numerous impulse buys, but hey, you’re going to eat great all week, your co-workers will be jealous.
However you approach rounding out your CSA share with market shopping for the week’s nourishment, here are some tips on how to be an effective farmer’s market shopper whatever markets you attend:
- Does the overall look of the display have eye appeal? Scope out the general appearance of the booth and produce as an indicator of the farm’s style and attention to detail. Look at how the produce was transported or packaged. Are the products neatly arranged, clean, easy to identify, and clearly priced?
- Is the vendor proud of the products as well as attentive and eager to assist you?
- Is it organic? This is a yes or no question. In a newsletter last year we described some of the responses a customer of ours told us she got to this question. There is no good way to spin the application of highly toxic synthetic sprays to food. This is why our organic certification is so important to us.
- Is the produce shiny? There are two primary reasons that we run produce through wash and rinse sinks. We may need to rinse it in order to get the dirt off. The first dunking washes off most of the dirt, and the second finishes that job. Another prime reason to rinse produce with cold water is to get the field heat out before it goes into a cooler to preserve freshness. Some things like beans, peas, and okra should never be washed but do need to be chilled. Tomatoes get hand wiped but never chilled. All this effort is what allows our products to last several days after purchasing. Without this effort, the produce has a very short shelf life.
- Crop specific things to look for:
- The single biggest mistake we see people make is to get hung up on finding a certain variety. This happens most often with corn and tomatoes. Instead of asking for a specific variety of corn, ask if the corn has been cooled (refrigerated) after harvest, a critical practice to preserve freshness.
- Heirloom tomatoes should be displayed on their shoulders to not bruise the bottom. Round reds are fine in a box if under ripe, but we usually still display them on trays.
- Leafy greens should look fresh, not wilty.
- Potatoes should be clean, not dusty, otherwise other items may get muddy in your market shopping bag.
We take growing and providing food very seriously, and we are proud of the wholesome certified organic produce we take to market. Shopping the farmer’s market is a great way to revel in the availability of local, organic food.
When you go, try new foods and new recipes with what you purchase. If you want to know about anything food related, just ask. We like to educate our customers about the difference between what we have and what they may see in the supermarkets. We enjoy sharing and learning new cooking techniques with our customers. It is important to us that you enjoy your farmer’s market experience, and more importantly, that you have the opportunity to secure items that may not be in your share. So, please, enjoy the smells, colors and textures, and do not only shop for taste, but shop tastefully. – Mac
In Your Share
- New Potatoes
- Summer Squash
- Surprise Me!
Check out our Pinterest board for this week’s recipes! https://www.pinterest.com/elmwoodstockfar/recipes-2019-summer-csa/