Brake for Farmers Markets
I know I do whenever I get a chance. I spent the morning wandering through a farmers market on the Northern Neck of Virginia. In our move up the East Coast, I am enjoying the regional food culture of wherever we are staying. The Northern Neck is rich with farmers markets and produce stands dotting the countryside. The markets here tend to rotate among towns very weekend. It is not just fresh produce, but locally-made cheeses, bread, and meats that are sold.
I cannot help myself; I always have been that way. I have to stop and check out these markets and stands out. Growing up, my family had a huge garden on the side of the house on Greenlake Drive in Middletown, NJ. During the summertime, what we didn’t grow, we would go to produce stands along side of the road. Everywhere I have lived there was a summer farmers market. Lexington, Kentucky had the best one to date. It was huge and the products offered was of an amazing variety. They were very progressive by taking credit cards and accepting food stamps. The market made it easier for you shop fresh and wholesome regardless of your economic status. The last town I lived in, Tarboro, North Carolina, just formed a farmers market with the leadership of local business owners and town government. Every market day it is getting bigger as more vendors and visitors come. Having access to fresh, affordable produce is important to the health of the community.
There is something special about picking out fresh off the vine tomatoes while talking to the farmer about the weather. The farmers are very passionate about what they produce and are very proud of it. And you should too be passionate about what you eat. The produce you purchase is in season and fresh. Most of it came from a couple miles away and often you can see the actual farm where it was grown.
Visiting a farmers market forces me to think about food and meals. You never know what kinds of produce will be offered that day. It depends on what is ripe and ready. Today I came across butter beans, tiny tomatoes, green tomatoes, sweet pepper, and big sandwich slicers. That sets my thought process as to what I can make with these fresh ingredients. Lots. I plan on making a tiny tomato butter bean salad where I will add some asparagus and a vinegarette. With the green tomatoes, I will make fried green tomatoes. The sweet pepper and some of the tiny tomatoes will go in tonight’s hummus roasted veg tart.
This summer and fall, think local for your produce. It will open your mind and taste buds to new flavors.