I've gone three times so far this year; it didn't start until the week of our honeymoon but I've gone every week since. Last week was a bit of a dud, since I didn't get there until late in the day, but this week and my first week were glorious. The only problem is that every week I go, I wonder how much longer I will be able to. I am currently unemployed, which allows me the luxury of mid-day produce purchases, but ideally this situation will not last because we need money! The market is only open once a week, on a weekday, from 11am to 5pm. It seems as though it's designed for only those who can afford to be there (i.e. can afford to have a family member who doesn't work or are lucky enough to have a job flexible enough to allow a midday grocery trip). This is much the same problem that we see with most organic foods - only the wealthy can afford them, which continues to feed this nation's obesity crisis and denies health to millions who deserve it. Even though the market is cheaper than the grocery store, it's still less accessible It's a Catch-22 of course - organic foods cost more to grow and, thus, are only sustainable if the growers and producers charge more. It's either organic foods for the rich or none for anybody.
Happily, my town is trying to find a solution to this very problem. Today I saw a flyer asking local growers with a surplus to donate organic produce to the local food pantry, to provide residents who need it with fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables. The town describes itself as "New Jersey's First Green Community." I'm not sure how accurate this is but within its two square miles, it does manage to host a weekly farmers' market, maintain both a community garden and a garden shared by the middle school and high school, and recently open A Better World Cafe, which strives to provide seasonal meals at affordable prices and flexible serving sizes with minimal waste. (Read more here... I haven't been yet but I really want to check it out!) I think it could do more, particularly in the realm of promoting vegetarianism (which is very green) but there's always room for improvement. It seems to do what it can with its resources and has a long-term plan with more steps to implement. It may not be perfect, but it's better than a lot of places and seems sincere in its efforts.
But this post isn't about the social health divide or my town's efforts at being green. It's about my local farmers' market and the goodies to be found there! I'll start with my first bounty of the year:
sour cherries. There was a lot more that I would liked to have bought, but I went a little crazy on my first produce purchase at Stop & Shop after the honeymoon, so I was trying to be practical and not fill my fridge with food that would inevitably be thrown out. The cherries of course became a cobbler, the bread was devoured, the zucchini became a raw lasagna, the green onions went into something or other, the kale is miraculously still holding on, and the corn flowered!
The husband, our friend and former roommate Robin, and I had a little fourth of July barbecue at a little park and the corn made a guest appearance. That's me pre-grilling on the left, and Robin, post-grilling on the right. We removed the silk and grilled the corn in its husks but it didn't go very well. It may partially have been because the corn itself was not very good (I know, that's impossible but it was early in the season) but it's probably mostly due to us not knowing what we were doing. The grill wasn't hot enough and everything I've read online since says that we should have only left on one layer of husk and left the corn on the grill for longer. Oh well - at least it was pretty!
On to yesterday's bounty:
Another stuffed loaf of bread, some broccoli, blueberries, more corn, and this week's new-to-me fruit - sugarplums! I have yet to do anything with any of it, though the husband has nearly finished the bread already. Sadly, the market has lacked cherries since that one fortuitous happenstance. Apparently, unlike Bing cherries they have an incredibly short growing season which both explains why they don't show up in the grocery store and probably won't show their faces on this blog again until next year. :[ As for what I did actually buy this week... The broccoli, corn, and blueberries are all pretty straight-forward but the sugarplums I have some plans for. I have already determined that they are delicious raw but would also like to create something with them... I'm really enjoying finding these new fruits at the market and hope that it keeps happening! Stay tuned to see what happens to those vision-inducing sugarplums...
- Do you prefer to buy your produce at the grocery store or farmers' market? Why?
- What do you think of the social divide regarding the availability of organic foods? Is it fixable?
- What would you do with a basket of sugarplums?
Not to be outdone by Turbo's cameo yesterday, today Ralph insisted on hamming it up in front of the camera as well...
What a big yawn for such a little boy! <3