Posts tagged farmers market
Posts tagged farmers market
It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. To be honest, the winter months left me uninspired and a little sick of the repetitive nature of the citrus and squash options.
Well, the sun is back and so are berries, peaches, and lots of other delicious, fleeting options to shake things up. Went back to the market today and enjoyed cooking a bit as well. Two things I hadn’t done in a while…
Hope that June finds you well!
January with Supermarkets - Week 2 and 3 of the Self-Imposed Challenge
No, I didn’t make it a whole month without supermarkets. After somehow escaping the flu that had been spreading around my co-workers and friends for over a month, I finally found myself at home sick mid-January, missing the weekend farmers’ markets. I was craving fresh citrus and some greek yogurt to whip up an enlivening smoothie, but my kitchen was empty except for some wilting, earthy greens and roots. Oh, and nuts. So many raw nuts.
So, here we are after a quick trip to Safeway:
Personal lessons learned as part of the January resolution challenge
1) Sometimes, going to the supermarket will actually be the healthier choice. Yes, it may be a great goal to try to avoid supermarkets and focus on sourcing your food from farmers’ markets. However, when you run out of food and are starting to sustain yourself on raw nuts for breakfast, lunch and dinner, maybe you should give in and just go grocery shopping the now “normal” way. Nuts day in and day out do not represent any kind of healthy balance. I can’t wait to hit up the Whole Foods salad and veggie bar for lunch again, because health-wise, it’s bound to beat multiple slices of whole wheat bread with honey or nut butter on the days I ran out of time to cook…
2) Some things are worth buying instead of making. My “make your own nut butter” experiment ended in a total disaster and lots of money wasted on a cruddy machine that fell apart after a single use. Turns out, unless I want to shell out $200 for a fancy food processor, homemade results will likely be questionable and frustrating. Back to Whole Foods I go to grab the freshly-ground stuff there! Sometimes, convenience is key.
3) To get used to new foods, introduce them slowly. I bought fennel despite some initial apprehension, and rolled with it, making it a main ingredient in this recipe. However, another bulb of fennel arrived three days later via my CSA box. Dun dun dun. I was not happy. I live alone and thus cook for one, and there’s only so much I want to eat of a new food unless it blows me away the first time around. So, the second fennel is still sitting in my fridge rejected. Poor little thing. Again, that’s where something like the variety at Whole Foods comes in - I try new things all the time, but I just add a spoonful of new tastes onto familiar tastes. Less risk, less potential disappointment, and way more fun. It’s how I’ve vastly increased the variety of my diet over the past one to two years. It’s sustainable personal change. Going Full Monty on it, though, by eating 100% seasonally, was a little too much for me. That CSA-delivered avocado is still staring at me from the fridge —— it’s just TOO BIG.
So despite all of those shortcomings, what practical, more universal advice can I share?
These are the take-aways I’ll keep applying to my life:
1) Start your grocery shopping at the weekly farmers’ market, and only supplement your kitchen with supermarket purchases.
2) Try at least one new fruit or vegetable a week.
3) Don’t stick to any food rules too closely. Live a little. If you’re too limited, you’ll start making irrational choices. Too little salt, too little variety, etc. just because something is not in season. If a banana is a great on-the-go breakfast you know has worked for you, don’t shun it. Nope, it’s not local. Yep, it’s still healthy. How many mornings in a row can you eat yogurt with kiwi or oatmeal before you start missing variety? I WANT MY BANANA, and I want it now. Eat what feels right, fuels your body and is mostly natural, and you’ll be off the best. Balance, kiddo, balance.
No Supermarkets in January - Week 1 of Self-Imposed Challenge
I started off with such enthusiasm. I had made up my mind to eschew supermarkets for the month, and I was ready to get this thing started. January 1st of this year conveniently fell on a Sunday, which meant the beautiful and expansive farmers’ market out in Mountain View was open for business. Hurrah!
Armed with about 25$ and a few bags, I was on the look-out for the most seasonal foods I could find. Sure, you can find strawberries at a farmers’ market in California in January, but how natural and tasty that is is an entirely different question. Instead, I filled up with a variety of organic apples, kiwi, pears, cauliflower, green onions, fresh eggs, cabbage, carrots, nearly a pound of pork from Full of Life farm and some other stuff I’ve since likely forgotten about.
So far, so good.
After I cooked up a random vegetable cornocopia in preparation for my first day back at work, I arrived at the office on January 2 only to realize it was a holiday. Oh. Who shows up at work on a holiday? This woman, apparently. So… Back at home with the whole day ahead of me, I then had the opportunity to prepare for a few other work lunches as well. With all my other competing New Year’s resolutions, I definitely welcomed the extra time. Jackpot!
That day and for the rest of the week, I tried my hand at creative cooking. Try, try, fail again, my friend. I really do need to begin planning my food shopping with recipes in advance, and then actually follow them. Week two? Yeah.
Left to my own devices, I made rather mediocre:
And then, a few days into the challenge, I realized I had greatly underestimated the amount of food you need to buy at the farmers’ market if it is your sole food source. Oopsies.
Enter rule #1 for my personal challenge - “It’s ok to shop at local stores if you must”. This may seem like a cop-out, but a girl’s gotta eat. I ended up hitting up both Sigona’s and the Milk Pail Market. I also added a stop at Mayfield Bakery and was finally set with a borderline-farmers-market-worthy-list-of-extra-stuff to carry me over until the weekend: organic whole milk, 1 greek yogurt, kiwis, California olive oil, parsnips, beets, dark Levain bread, and, of course, both 70 and 90% chocolates. Yum.
As best I could, I stuck to rule #2 is - “If you go to a food store, buy only what would be available at a farmers’ market.”
Yep, that’s except for rule #3of my personal challenge - “It’s ok to eat chocolate with 70%+ cocoa levels and drink coffee/espresso concoctions”. Within limit, of course. For the safety and sanity of those around me, this exception is a purely preventative measure. You’re welcome.
I topped all of that off with a trip to Williams-Sonoma which is, as I learned, a much more entertaining store if you actually cook. I walked out with a yogurt maker I had been eyeing and got to work on it. This morning, I woke up to creamy, tangy splendor. The deliciousness exceeded anything store-bought that has ever hit my lips. Well, ok, that’s a lie, but that is what I had envisioned, of course. Instead, I ended up with a less tangy product that tasted more like a clumpy version of the whole milk I had used than the yogurt I am used to, but ok. The great news is that I have a whole week worth of the substance left. Mhhh! I’ll have to work on the flavor and consistency a bit next week. Nothing some fresh kiwi, local Ollalieberry honey and chopped walnuts as topping cannot fix.
Does anyone have any tips for better results?
So, here’s the round-up of week 1 of my supermarket-less adventure:
Well, on to week two!
Disclaimer: I used other staples I already had, if few, in my meals as well. Lots of raw almonds, some sea salt, lentils, beans, etc. No need to waste that $! :)
My January Food Goal: Supermarket-Free Zone
I remember during my college days, which if I wanted to be cute I’d say weren’t too long ago, my roommates and I would carpool to the grocery store. Moving from the sweltering humidity of central Florida through the doors into the frigid air-conditioned cold, I felt like I was entering an alternate world. My eyes would light up: Disneyland!
Yes. You read that right. Moving to the US from Germany, my experience of American supermarkets was akin to a theme park visit. As my roommates patiently waited by the cash register, I combed through what felt like endless aisles of prepared foods. Deep-fried, brightly-colored, caramel-covered, frozen something on a stick. Super-natural ingredients that should come with their own cape. Bold lettering, cartoon figures left and right. An entire aisle of esssentially identical toast bread in different shades. What wonders! Wheee!
Now, mind you, despite my fascination, I standardly walked out with only a few products I knew from home that elicited the question: “Where did you find that?” It made me wonder how the Pumpernickel (dark bread) I had bought was, to my roommates, the strangest product in the store, but the moral of the story is —- there’s a lot of questionable things in American supermarkets that, while highly entertaining, should probably not be consumed.
Of course, to say I’ve always lived a healthy life would be a lie. I did end up indulging in the delectable stickyness that is Nutella by the jar-full, made meals out of a package of cookies or magically made a whole tub of ice-cream disappear. Ta-da! Such habits resulted in a hefty 20 pound weight gain that took intensive training for a few half marathons and eating a clean athlete’s diet to undo.
My mother still likes to tell the anecdote of how, as a child, I would somehow spy some non-organic food in the kitchen and spontaneously break out into tears. According to her, I would then refuse to eat the food. I find this organic robo-vision hard to believe given other streaks of genius in childhood such as hiding a candy stain on my sheets by preemptively cutting a giant hole into the sheet before handing it over for laundry. Nonetheless, it makes for a wild story.
So let’s pretend I really was destined to appreciate an organic, clean diet, and that my fatty processed foods phase was really just that - a phase. I still end up shopping out of convenience. My work day lunch, almost without exception, comes directly from the Whole Foods salad or hot food bar. All things considered, eating prepared or processed foods probably isn’t much healthier when they contain organic ingredients. I’m beyond sick of dissecting labels trying to find products with ingredients I can pronounce and envision before my inner eye. So…
This January, I will not shop at supermarkets.
One month of food sourced only from local farmers’ markets, or specialty stores like small, independent butchers and bakeries. I’ll run through the self-set rules later this week, but just know that though this goal will be a challenge to adhere to, I am giving myself a few sanity outs. Step 1 of good intention: Made veggie soup (above), so when I get up late on January 1, I don’t fail right off the bat. I even ended the year by learning something new.
And what are your food goals for the new year? Will you join me in this quest for health?
During my mother’s recent visit from Germany, we spent countless hours soaking up food culture and nutrition information, waxing poetic about our family heritage and how much appreciation of and approach to food differs between generations. We watched mind-blowing documentations about the food industry, and cooked up a storm with our much-anticipated California farmers’ market produce.
Other than changing how you yourself eat, though, my mother raised an interesting question: What can we do to change the food culture that permeates America and most of the world? What can we do to contribute to a return to natural, healthful eating that allows us to listen to our bodies as we were always intended to?
Enter some fabulous and worthwhile projects on Kickstarter.com. For those of you who haven’t heard of it before, Kickstarter is a terrific online avenue for projects of all kinds to raise awareness for their idea and funding to make that idea become a reality. You donate to the cause in exchange for a creator-defined piece of the project. It’s like getting to try on the shoes of an angel investor for a day, minus the billion dollar price tag.
I’d like to share a few of the projects that piqued my interest due to their potential for positive influence on different public health areas - whether further increasing our appreciation of fresh and seasonal meals at a new city-rooted restaurant in San Francisco, providing access to fresh fruits and veggies in the now infamous food deserts across America, or documenting the struggle of farmers in Oaxaca, Mexico to maintain the diversity of their crops. In addition to supporting projects you are interested in, campaigns on Kickstarter actually give you cool things in return. Do good, feel good, be rewarded? Alright!
Without further ado, here are a few interesting initiatives to check out:
Please watch the video above to learn more about this exciting new restaurant, scheduled to launch in San Francisco in the fall of this year. The menu will change with the season, with ingredients sourced fresh from local, California-grown farmers’ markets. Basically, you’ll be eating just like nature wants us to. You’ll get to look forward to a fabulous root vegetable menu in the fall, and regain the excitement of the first fresh strawberries next year rather than grabbing the ever-ready and ever-half-frozen strawberries from your supermarket. Need I mention that the fresh, seasonal sourcing will lead to full-bodied flavor explosions? Yes, explosions. That’s right.
If that’s not reason enough to support AQ, consider some of the benefits you could ream from showing your allegiance: May I interest you in a free drink at opening ($10), your name on a brick in the restaurant ($25), a culinary class at the restaurant ($50) or for those who are truly swept away, twice yearly dinners at the restaurant for as long as it is in business ($1500)?
AQ restaurant needs ca. another $21,000 to realize their vision. You can contribute anything from $1 here.
Stockbox aims to address the challenge that families living in food deserts - areas of the US where there are no grocery stores or markets selling fresh produce, but only convenience stores or big-box stores selling packaged foods - face. While many of us California residents are surrounded my organic farmers markets and have the salaries to cover the associated costs, many individuals involved in harvesting the produce do not have access to these luxuries. The same goes for many rural and urban parts of the country.
The Stockbox project is about $11,000 away from being able to open a test pop-up store and food education center in a parking lot in Delridge of Seattle, WA, where many residents must currently go without access to fresh foods or take two different buses to reach the nearest grocery store. I’m particularly impressed with this project because it combines two of the most important factors of changing the way we eat - we need both the education and access to be able to make healthy choices. Without both, we’re stuck in a fruitless fight, pun intended.
Though this truly is a charitable support you should consider giving, there are also perks if interested - reusable grocery bags, limited edition food-focused art prints, exclusive dinner with the founders of Stockbox, etc. Go take a look here.
Support one woman’s quest to document the shift in farming practices as they contrast with the interest of preserving cultural history in Oaxaca, Mexico. Erica Bacon’s journey will result in an essay, photo essay and be suplemented by a collection of native recipes. In exchange for your support, you can choose to receive a postcard from Erica’s travels, a hand-bound copy of her completed documentation, or a home-cooked Oaxacan meal served by Erica herself. To learn more, click here. Erica needs about $400 more to make the documentation of her trip a reality. I can empathize with this cause because doing something similar one day is a passion and a dream of mine. Go Erica!
Certainly, Kickstarter is full of interesting ideas to address the topics of food, public health and travel. Have you seen any particularly though-provoking or entertaining ones? Are you considering supporting any of the above?
In honor of National Farmers Market Week, which started today, I would like to share my first visual ode to the farmers market.
Much inspired by Michael Pollan’s works and movies like Food, Inc., I have re-discovered the joy of natural food. In a time where new, questionable food-like products are popping up in American supermarkets, which now carry on average 38,718 items, I have ventured into the land of local farmers markets instead.
Mind you, I never learned to cook growing up, though I am certain my grandparents and mother, being very active in the kitchen, would have appreciated my help and attention. Years later as I sit squarely in my mid-twenties, the lack of proper cooking utensils in my kitchen bears witness to this, and presents a challenge onto itself.
Recently, though, foraging the markets for organic vegetable varieties that are not known to me has taken me on a sensory journey brimming with new smells and stunning colors. Despite supposed advances in food science, there truly is no artist greater than nature.
This weekend, I shopped at two abundant markets - CUESA’s renowned Ferry Building Farmer’s Market in San Francisco on Saturday and on Sunday, Urban Village’s California Avenue Farmers Market in Palo Alto.
In this initial documentation, vibrant heirloom tomatoes and Chinese long-beans take center-stage alongside organic German butterball potatoes, mixed greens, apples, white peaches, radishes, free-range eggs, and more. After braising and drizzling and cooking and reducing and generally flailing in the kitchen like a misguided flounder, I stumbed upon a simple truth: with produce as fresh and flavorful as this, there’s not much you can do wrong.
Here’s to good health and reclaiming the kitchen, one in-season fruit or vegetable at a time.
(Click on each image for larger version.)