Having fresh ingredients is Food 101 and if you find yourself desiring to eat more veggies hitting up the market and getting to know your seasonal harvest and growers is an incredible experience that I guarantee will make your food taste better and fill your heart with a kind of joy and satisfaction that will certainly improve your personal well being, physically and emotionally. When I am down, I notice that the first thing to go is my eating habits, nourishing the body is a closed loop cycle and as soon as I throw refined sugar and alcohol into the mix you can almost bet Hurricane or Volcano Michelle is going to rip through any perfect day with a storm cloud over her head!
Anyways, back to the Market, here are a few tips for those trying to accomplish a successful market day that makes you feel that you are actually participating in your local economy and enriching your life with delicious nutricious whole food ingredients. ( But first can I rant just a little about WHOLEFOODS. Yes, I shop at whole foods but I just need to get on my soup box and state the obvious, WF literally bought out all the small mom and pop family organic grocers in my home town and then these days they have a ridiculous amount of conventionally produced fruits and vegetables. Just to remind you, conventional means GMO and contributes to pesticide use in the US, today pesticides as well as huge agro farming are the cause for one of the most crucial ecological weaknesses we face, pollinator decrease around the world. I just watched an excellent film you must take the time to see called, More than Honey which showed the horrific existence that bee's endure and the startling facts of colony collapse disorder. In the US, the latest estimates suggest that a total of 1.5 million (out of 2.4 million total beehives) have disappeared across 27 states. 80% of plant species require bees to be pollinated. Without bees, there is no pollinization, and fruits and vegetables could disappear from the face of the Earth. The movie suggests the cause of this serious decrease in the bee population is not caused by solution or stress alone but a combination of all the environmental factors effecting the bees ( and us ). So we must all try our best to support food systems that guarantee no connection with destructive practices, the good news is I can guarantee they all taste better too!!
So here it is my market list of tips for the best possible experience!
1. What to Bring: Baskets and CASH! If you happen to have a family or are planning a party I suggest bringing a rolling basket or Radio Flyer to fill up so you are not weighed down by all your cornucopia and can enjoy your shopping experience.
2. What to buy: Winter Basics: Onions, garlic, lemons, Kale, Cilantro, Parsley, sage, Rainbow Chard, Broccoli, carrots, cabbage, kabocha squash, brussel sprouts, leeks. In the winter I eat warmer foods, stewed curries with root veggies and quinoa or rice. pumpkin is super flavorful and quicker to cook than you think. Overcooking potatoes, yams and butternut squash is always a gooey treat but Kabocha squash has a rich, nutty flavor that is really well suited to a denser texture. Keep your eyes open for spring treats like asparagus, strawberries, blueberries and daffodils!
3. Summer Season: Tomatoes!!! ( though they are a fruit, you can enjoy this vegetable raw or cooked, as a snack or in addition to any spread. ) Basil, zucchini, yams, potatoes, cauliflower, little gem lettuce is my favorite, peppers for roasting and raw in salads. AVOCADOS! Hey we are lucky enough to live in california ( most of us ) and avos are the best nutrition to add to any simple meal to give you substantial energy with fast burning fats and delicious flavor. I usually get about four for myself and put them in the fridge to last me through the week.
4. Fruits and Nuts. These are important ones to purchase at your market and please check to see if they are organic and pesticide free because remember our pollinators are depending on us and we are depending on them to deliver not only the sweet honey ( that we steal from them ) but the precious fruits and nuts that make life abundant! WINTER FRUITS: (oh this is so much more fun than you think) Pomegranate, this my friends is an antioxidant love bomb that I love to add into my kale salad with roasted walnuts, its festive and delicious. Apples; crisp and hearty these treats are a hunger killer you can take with you everywhere. This winter I enjoyed slicing them into my oatmeal in the morning as a natural sweetener with raisins and a scary amount of salt to create a saliva tingly rich bowl of filling and delicious oats, I never knew last could be so good without brown sugar! But trust me, its worth it! You will see me spindling salt on my oatmeal at restaurants that don't have a romantic relationship with their oatmeal like I do. Ill post a recipe, ok, back to fruits and nuts: walnuts, persimmons, guavas, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, pears, and grapefruits. I love all winter fruits in my salads or roasted with veggies.
5. If you are fortunate enough to have poultry, eggs, fish and dairy at your market its a beautiful treat. I always go for the eggs and since I have been limiting my meats I go for the fish or 1/2 chicken from Fogline farms here in Santa Cruz.
6. CSA Community Supported Agriculture : If you find a farm you like check to see if they have a CSA. Some folks just can't make it to the market and take the time to search for the goods of the season so this is a great way to make up for lost time and perhaps get some goodies you were not expecting to try and get to know some new recipes!
I hope this article has been helpful and I hope to see you at the Market!