Are you like me? Do you see all of the farmers markets during the summer and just stare in wonder? I drive by, crane my neck, but continue on. I’ve even said I want to go to one, but I never do. Or if I happen upon one, I tend to feel lost as to what to buy or how much or whose product is better.
Yes, I’m farmers market phobic. I want to use them, I believe local is the best way to shop, but I’ve always been full of excuses not to. Well, this summer I decided ‘no more.’ I was ready to get past my reservations and earn my farmers market newbie badge. And I decided I was going to go to a market blind and manage to find all of the ingredients for that night’s dinner, even if I had to ask questions.
So I rolled into the nearest market to my house on a recent weekday morning. There were plenty of tents to choose from so I started at one end and got quite an education as I weaved my way through the various stands.
Given the most popular items this month were squashes, tomatoes, and eggplant and considering the fact I had just watched Ratatouille with my son, I got the vision for my dinner pretty quickly. I then pulled out my phone and searched for a recipe. The top search yielded a recipe for Summer Ratatouille and with a quick glance, I could see the market had all the ingredients I needed.
I had a great time asking the vendors about their farms and where they were located. I was pleased to learn my dinner would be completely supplied from farms that were less than 30 miles from my house. Some of my vegetables were from a farm completely dedicated to sustainable farming, a total added bonus to the trip.
Once I got comfortable talking with the farmers, many explained to me how long I could expect certain vegetables to be available so I could plan for my next dose of fresh and local produce. And when I came across a vegetable I truly didn’t recognize, the vendors were great about answering my questions. The result? I had lemon cucumbers with my lunch, something I never knew existed until that morning.
Our dinner was fantastic. The colors were beautiful. The flavor was great. I loved that some of the vegetable weren’t the typical shape. One of the eggplants was long and white and the green peppers were very small. This just spoke fresh and natural to me. I commented to my son, “dinner all came from Kansas dirt.” His smile was a great reward and I felt a certain sense of new pride over this. I recycle, I try to buy organic, but this felt like really walking the walk.
If you’re afraid of the farmers market like I was, I urge you to face your fears. It’s a painless process and you’ll be so glad you went. And really, dinner grown in your local dirt just tastes better.
July 20th, 2012