Monday, October 25, 2010

a fall bounty

a couple weeks ago, my sister molly and i met our friend rebecca at the farmers market near our office at about 8 am. it was so beautiful to be there first thing in the morning on a cool, crisp fall day, and the morning sunlight streaming in created a totally different feel than i've felt at the farmers market before. it was like an otherwordly light filtering through all the layers of beautiful greens and colorful shapes.

as we perused, we talked about the ways we shop for produce and how to minimize waste and maximize the use of seasonal produce when it's at its best. just a few days before that, rebecca had emailed me to pose this question for discussion:

do you have a game plan when you go to the farmer's market? like, do you go there looking for particular things or with a recipe in mind? or do you just go and see what's there and figure out what you will make with it as you go along? it's just so hard to resist the beautiful things that they have there, especially when you don't know if it will still be available the following week.

so we walked and talked about this conundrum that i think a lot of people feel in some form. my personal thought is that it's a great idea to have a plan B for everything you buy at the farmers market. for example, you might see some beautiful squashes and peppers you want to try - interesting colors and shapes, and you have lofty goals of sauteeing or grilling them, drizzling with some herb-infused olive oil, blah blah blah. and that would be lovely. but if it doesn't happen, for whatever variety of reasons make things like that not happen, then you can have a plan in the back of your mind to make a big pot of chili on sunday to use up the things that never made it to their culinary promised land.

and about the idea of not knowing what will be available next week making it hard to pass over something particularly interesting, i say ask the sellers. one of the best things about farmers market shopping is that you're buying directly from the source (which is so nice in so many ways). they've known that huge eggplant since it was this big. so they'll gladly tell you when things will be available and when they won't, even when they're at their peak. and they can also give you ideas of how to prepare each specimen if you're not sure.

one of my favorite things at the farmers market is seeing vegetables in their full, uncut form. it totally makes them more exciting to use, though it can sometimes be a little intimidating. seeing them (and buying them) that way makes me feel even more connected to the true source of this goodness, and that's really something to feel good about it, especially in a food world that we know is over-processed and so very disconnected from its source and its intended form.

i was happy to see all the gnarly and huge heirloom tomatoes (the uglier the better, right?) after last year's tomato issues. these are the kind of tomatoes that just sliced on a plate are a showstopper.

what have you been buying at the farmers market? and do you have a system or strategy to share?

some more honey living farmers market posts:

fresh ideas

local harvest
on the grid
good and green

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