Saturday, August 13, 2005

Eat Like You Live Here

Ah, Saturday... time for my weekly trek to the farmers' market downtown!

Today's finds:

--green beans and a pint of locally-produced honey from a sweet older couple

--more of that yummy red popcorn from the local corn farm... two more bags for me and one for my Granola Girl

--organic okra, broccoli, and sweet corn from the man in the ponytail

--organic garlic and homemade soaps (rose and spice) from the cheerful lady

I was also tempted by some dried runner beans from the older lady who told me it was an old-fashioned way of preserving beans from the hills of West Virginia and Kentucky... maybe this coming Saturday I'll pick up some (and I'll consider growing some heirloom beans to dry next year!)... but I didn't have quite enough money this time around.

I've been reading Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating From America's Farmers' Markets by Deborah Madison of late, and the gorgeous photographs of fresh heirloom vegetables and recipes for using the local bounty have sent me into raptures of good eating. I'll share a couple of good quotes from the book:

When food is cheap, we tend to treat it carelessly and wastefully. But when it's dear, when it costs what it's actually worth, we tend to pay closer attention to it. In this sense, good food can sharply focus our world. (p.xviii)

And while thoughts like that are inspiring (see also the latest in the Hundred-Mile Diet, "Why We Pay Too Little for Well Travelled Food"), Madison also points out the down side and the real risk of local agriculture and challenges us to do our part to save it:

Although for most Americans where food comes from is a vague concept that's not geographically set in the mind, food doesn't come from "somewhere else"; it comes from someplace. When a farm is "developed," we town and city dwellers, as well as the farmers, lose the tie to the land that nourishes us. We also lose the security that comes from knowing that we can eat from our landscape and not have to depend on large and ultimately unsustainable food systems...

We need to use our markets deeply if farmers are to continue to farm and we are to continue to eat well in the deepest sense, being nourished by our immediate landscape and community. How fortunate that meeting this need is one of the most pleasurable obligations we can assign ourselves. (p.395)

If you've been following my tales of the farmers' market this summer, you can probably guess what joy it gives me to walk down there every week and see and buy such a wonderful variety of fresh, seasonal, often organic produce. You've guessed how much I enjoy talking to the people who bring their crops and products to market with such enthusiasm. And you know how much I love to cook with good food.

So if you haven't been to a farmers' market yet this summer, please... GO. Some of you Dear Readers have shared with me your own tales of market visits and your excitement about finding new markets nearby. But if you haven't yet been, please go and support your local growers, your local producers, and your local ecosystem. And remember the motto of my local farmers' market:

"Eat Like You Live Here."


At 8/16/2005 6:31 PM, Anonymous Tina said...

I checked out Ann Arbor's farmer's market a couple of weeks ago, and was thrilled at how big it is! It's Huuuuuge, and I've gotten some great stuff! And this past Saturday they gave away free ice cream, from Washtenaw Dairy which has been around since my Granny was a kid, along with toppings from some of the farm market's vendors. I had it for breakfast!:-)

At 8/17/2005 7:42 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

That would be a great market to visit sometime, if I could ever get up that way! (Of course, there's always Zingerman's to tempt me, too...)

Ice cream at the farmers' market... what a great idea! I can pick up the occasional cookie or pie at ours, though I don't usually since I bake so much on my own. What I'd really love to see at our market is locally-produced cheese, especially goat cheese.

Or, if the folks at the local winery brought their wares in (though alcohol might be allowed at the market)... hmmmm....

At 8/17/2005 4:50 PM, Anonymous Tina said...

Yes, local wine from the farmer's market *would* be great! I had a chance to go winetasting at a couple of the Northern Michigan wineries when I was visiting my parents' in early July. FABULOUS wine! If you haven't checked out Chateau Chantal or Chateau Grand Traverse on Old Mission Peninsula, you should try to get up there sometime. Especially Chateau Chantal, which not only has fabulous wine, but also great scenery. It's in a beautiful building on a high hill surrounded by vinyards and cherry orchards, with a panoramic view of both arms of Grand Traverse Bay in the distance. Incredibly gorgeous!

Drop me an email if you ever do make it up this way, perhaps we could do lunch at Zingerman's!:-) (Followed by ice cream from Washtenaw Dairy, I could go for some more of that Michigan Black Bear I had Saturday: vanilla ice cream with swirls of raspberry and tiny, raspberry filled chocolates--pure heaven!)


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