Farm Stands and Farm Markets

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Farm Stands and Farm Markets

Fresh Local Produce – Three of my favorite words. At this time of year fresh food is available everywhere you look. Parking lots have produce stands, different days of the week tents are set up in various areas downtown, and farms we pass all winter long, through the various stages of tilling, planting and growing, are now ready to harvest.

There is nothing more delicious than a fresh local fruit or vegetable.  Nothing! Tomatoes melt in your mouth, berries taste better than candy, and zucchini actually has a taste!  This is also a time when you can try new foods like garlic scapes.

For those of you who are new to this Here’s The Scoop:

Why Buy Local: Locally grown food is healthier and tastes better! From the moment produce is picked it loses nutrients. Food from the grocery store can be anywhere from 7-14 days old. Produce from a stand* is fresh picked!

Do a good thing: financially supporting a local farm benefits the farmer and the community; it keeps your money local. You will be helping to decrease emissions by not have it shipped to you on a truck**, and keeping the farms alive will decrease land development, keeping many species of wildlife in a perfect environment in our farmers fields, hedgerows, orchards and ponds.

Commercial produce is bred to endure the time and conditions of transportation, and a long shelf life. Only hybrid varieties of fruits and vegetables can meet these needs, almost NO heirloom*** varieties can handle the travel.  For those of you who have not experienced heirloom, my apologies, you have not lived!

Local food is often safer, says the Center for a New Dream (CNAD) “Even when it is not organic, small farms tend to be less aggressive than large factory farms about dousing their wares with chemicals”. Small farms are also more likely to grow more variety, says CNAD, protecting biodiversity and presenting a wider agricultural gene pool, an important factor in long-term food security. The fewer steps there are between your foods source and your table, the less chance there is of contamination.

Eating locally ensures peak quality of freshness, nutrition and taste.

How to Buy Local: Stands* are not open all year-long, so check out their web sites to find out when they are open.

TIPS –

Go early for the best selection.  Some items are only produced in small quantities.

Bring bags – Sometimes they are provided, but produce is heavy, so reusable bags are a better option. Just keep them in the back of your car for when you see a roadside stand!

Be spontaneous when you go. You might find an early crop of blackberries, or a new food. If you want advice on a new food, just ask the farmer for ideas on how to prepare.

Buy Big. When your favorite blackberries are in season, buy more, and freeze the extra, so when winter comes and you want something delicious, pop them our of the freezer and make a blackberry cobbler or s nice sauce!

Good to Know: Local restaurants and smaller grocery stores can /do purchase local vegetables. Ask your favorite restaurant where they get theirs.

Where to Buy Local:  One of our favorite Farm Stand is SIW Veggies, this is where we discovered Garlic Scapes.  They have fruits, vegetable, herbs and much more. SIW grows over 85 varieties of heirloom tomatoes! They are also supporting the local businesses; they have refrigeration at the stand and sell pies, cookies, Henretty’s Crab Cakes, artisanal breads, and gourmet cheeses, balsamic vinegar & oil, and more from local producers. SIW also makes their own tomato sauce and soup, fruit and pumpkin butters, as well as local honey.

For those of you in the Wilmington, DE area, please check:

http://www.farmersmarketonline.com/fm/Delaware.htm

http://www.delocalfoodexchange.com/

http://siw-vegetables.blogspot.com/

What to Buy Local: This is easy. Buy everything you like and a few more things to expand your palate for fantastic fresh and local produce!

The bottom line is that along with all of the wonderful things buying locally can do, the most important is that it provides you with high quality foods that help with your journey to health and wellness.

*Stand = Farm Stand, CSA, Farmers Market
**Fresh food items sold in a grocery store travels and average 1,500 miles to get there.
*** Heirloom varieties are unique seeds that have not been genetically modified. They have been passed down for generations, Varieties not considered heirloom are called hybrid.

Sources:
www.About.com
E. The Environmental Magazine

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