Monday, December 8, 2008

Local diet update - December 8, 2008

Alright. So you caught me. Last week I kinda mentioned, in my Garden Update, that we most likely wouldn't be harvesting any of the spinach or cabbage until the end of December or early January. The truth of the matter is, soon after I wrote that, I started nipping a few leaves of each and am enjoying them in my veggie stir-fry-n-rice lunches. I've pulled a couple onions too. Yep, that's a photo of what I picked for Friday's lunch. And let me tell you, food out of the backyard is just better. And no it's not like those mothers  who insist that their babies are the cutest ever! No, my food actually is better. Really, it is!  

It's amazing to be nibbling on goodies from the backyard - plants that I nourished, visited, and tended. As much as I love the weekly bike rides to the farmers market, and the discovery of what's been picked "this week," it can't compare to the beauty of eating my own harvest. And there so much yet to come!

That being said, don't think I skipped this weekend's farmers market. I have no intention of completely sustaining my addiction to good food. Especially when the market can provide a wider variety of treats than I'll be growing in my backyard (we'd have chickens if we could, but we can't so we won't - farmers market it is). Not to mention, I'd be lonely without my farmer friends. They really are a wonderful bunch!

Right. Now about Saturday's farmers market. It was SOOOOOO COLD! As in 30 degrees cold. I totally chickend out and instead of biking, Dave and I took the car downtown. I know many of you are thinking that 30 degrees is nothing, but keep in mind, the Heather-ometer runs differently. It sets the freezing point at 60 degrees. So do the math. A 30 degree temperature is WAY below the Heather-ometer freeze point. And does anyone really want to see me, fresh off a bike, with snot-scicles hanging off my nose? That's what I thought. I mean, we have to keep things in perspective, right?  

Anyway, as you can see, I hit the mother load. Unfortunately, there weren't any broccoli left, but do you see those gorgeous tomatoes there on the right? Well, it turns out, I'm gonna have access to them all winter long. Tanya, our big tomato producer out of Millican, has her greenhouse in full swing and has promised year-round tomatoes! No joke! Anyone want to move to Texas? I have an extra room or two in my house...

Right so back to those veggies. I picked up 6 large carrots, a dozen eggs, a pound of green beans, three yellow onions, lettuce, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, mint, sage, and 5 gorgeous, ripe, red, juicy, tomatoes. Oh, yeah. I mentioned those already didn't I?

Although I don't have a photo of it, what amazed me most about the market this week was remembering last December's market. We had two egg vendors and one veggie vendor and the customers were few and far between. This year, customers are everywhere and there were 12 vendors selling... red potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, yellow onions, red onions, green peppers, green beans, leafy greens of all kinds, canned veggies, salsas, kohlrabi, cabbage, jalapenos, tomatillos, broccoli (gone before I got there), carrots, honey, baked breads and desserts, jams and jellies, pecans, locally roasted coffee, eggs, dried fruits, lemons, plants, and all kinds of crafts. Yeah, and you have to assume that I missed a dozen or so items (sucks getting older - you forget everything). 

With that spread, you would assume we're set, but no, there's more!  On Friday night we picked up 2 pounds of mozzarella from the dairy. This is their first run at mozzarella so I was sure to order some for Dave. I immediately shredded it and froze it in one cup servings to pull each time we make a homemade pizza (which, of course, is definitely going to happen more often now that we have a stead supply of tomatoes... did I mention we picked up some tomatoes?). 

And my friend Tammy gave me some snow peas from her garden (mine are still in blossom stage) as well as a bag of the apples she had shipped in from Washington (not local, but oh so good). Thanks, Tammy! I do have lots of local fruit though. I still have some oranges from the Home Sweet Farm Market Day, and I stay stocked with lots of local grapefruit that I pick up regularly from the grocery store.

As for other odds and ends, I have local mushrooms (from the grocery), local rice (from the natural food store), local beans (from DiIorio Farm and Market), and lots and lots of local soups in the pantry that I canned over the summer.

This is truly a week to be thankful. Not only do we have access to wonderful local food all year round, but I am witness to what an amazing difference a year can make. A dozen vendors were there, when last year there were only 3. Customers came in droves to get the freshest goodies in town, when last year we were few and far between. The economy may be struggling, but it looks like our farmers market will be just fine. Go local!

Have a great week everyone, and as always... Happy (and mindful) eating.

For more information on where you can find local food in the BCS area, check out the side bar (on the right) or visit my post on Shopping Locally in the BCS.


ttammylynn said...

Our market is pretty great. With the prospect of tomatoes year round, I think that some of the other vendors will be encouraged to "hang in there", too. I try to buy something from everyone when I go which may not always be the best thing for me(figuring out what to do if I should have excess), but I think it stimulates a sense of creativity and a bit of generousity too. I am sure, for example, that the broccoli would have been gone even if I hadn't bought the two little heads. My sis is becoming addicted to the market now, so I am thinking, good job, local food. I am a bit inspired and in awe of the whole movement toward "mindfulness".

Chile said...

Wow, the offerings at your farmer's market sound wonderful. The huge increase in vendors is encouraging. Our farmer's market seems to have the same produce vendors as last year, although there are a couple of new ones from the area we visited over the weekend. The holiday season, however, sees an annual influx of vendors selling prepared products like jams & jellies, salsas, breads, and even spice mixes. Not all of the ingredients are local, but I believe most of the vendors are from the general region.

Kudos on those gorgeous tomatoes!

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

I agree that food that comes from your garden is something special. I do adore the farmer's market and our CSA, but every time I eat a butternut squash that Brett and I tended to over the course of the summer - that is much better, I remember it in its "infancy".

OK, Texas here I come! Tomatoes year round? That is almost enough to send me packing!

What a nice looking haul you got for a chilly December morning. I too was able to find some local beans recently, so Brett and I will be able to eat even more locally. Now if I could only get some Missouri grown brown rice, all I can find is white, ick...

Heather @ SGF said...

Tammy - Quit feeling guilty about that broccoli, girl! :) There'll be plenty more this year and you even shared the little bit you got. It really did sound like your sis was hooked on fresh, local food. Who needs word of mouth when all that good food just about speaks for itself?

Chile - We definitely had some holiday items last Saturday and I'm guessing we'll have even more in the next couple weeks (compared to nothing this time last year - atleast as far as holiday stuff goes). It's just wonderful to watch the market grow.

Did you pick up any holiday-ish items?

Jennifer - just let us know when to get your room ready? We'll keep it open for you. :) You would think that if you have white rice, there would be brown rice somewhere. I mean, it's just a matter of not polishing the rice, right? Have you tried the grocery? Ours has some local rices.

Chile said...

No holiday shopping there, although I did try some fried plantain chips from the Cuban restaurant's stand. I also made the mistake of buying bread from a vendor other than the normal one I go to. That wasn't the mistake, though. I erred by just pointing to a loaf without asking first. It turned out to be six bucks (double the other place!) and when we tried it at home, we found out it had cheese in it. Expensive lesson. *sigh*

Heather @ SGF said...

Chile - oops! Were you at least able to give it to a friend? That is pretty expensive for bread.