Friday, May 21, 2010

It's Farmer's Market Time!

I am so excited because my local farmer's market, in Central Square Cambridge, opens this coming Monday! It runs every Monday from May 24 through November 22nd in the Harvest Co-Op parking lot. Every year there are an amazing variety of fruit-and-vegetable farms, bakers, grass-fed meat producers, and luscious flowers.


Gorgeous variety at the Central Square Farmer's Market, by Tiny Urban Kitchen

If you live in Massachusetts, you can find your own nearest market at massfarmersmarkets.org and if you live elsewhere, you can search on Local Harvest. If you haven't jumped on the bandwagon yet, give one a try! It is so important, more than ever, to support our local farms before they disappear, and to keep your money out of the hands of the huge food conglomerates who care more about production quantity than safety and quality. Have you seen Food, Inc. or read any of Michael Pollan's books and articles? Some of the most important journalism of our time.

New studies have shown that there is a definite link between ADHD and pesticides, and who knows how many of the increased number of cancer diagnoses are related as well... Given this recent revelation, most advice stresses washing "conventional" (non-organic) produce thoroughly. Unfortunately, a good number of the vegetables and fruits we eat are so high in water content that the pesticides on the outside almost always penetrate through the entire fruit. For "the dirty dozen" - the most notoriously contaminated foods- it is imperative to choose organic. Unfortunately Dole and other large companies have started their own organic production in countries where who knows what that designation really means, so the word begins to carry less and less weight. What you can almost always be sure of if you buy from local, small farms is that they use best practices even if they're not certified organic. It's expensive and wasteful to use chemical fertilizers and pesticides, when a good biodynamic farm requires none of it-- it's a perfect, closed system and it's the natural, truly "conventional" (as in throughout all of history except WWII until now) way to grow food. No scary chemicals, no petroleum-based fertilizers. If a farm stand doesn't have signs saying "no pesticides" then ask!

It can be more expensive to buy organic, of course, especially at natural foods stores like Whole Foods, but the seasonal bounty at a farmer's market almost always costs less than produce which has been trucked thousands of miles and passed through the expense-adding processes of marketing and middlemen. To further stretch your budget and survive through the winter when the less temperate areas close up production, think about learning to can or using a deep freeze!
If you are intimidated by the variety of strange veggies you encounter, pick up a book like How to Pick a Peach or Farmer's Market Cooking and start experimenting!

Happy produce shopping!

2 comments:

  1. Gorgeous produce and good advice too xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. great post! this is enlightening. i love farmers' market too. our area started this about two weeks ago. love the vendor foods and the music too. the store space, robin's nest, im renting is just on the street where the vendors are and i make a point of going there. you can see everybody just having fun. you have a fabulous week and stay safe! verbena cottage

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