- Cut up 4-6 washed peaches into bite sized pieces (about 4 cups)
- Add a big handful of chopped cilantro or mint (about 3/4 cup)
- Add about 3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
- Squeeze in one juicy lime (3-4 Tablespoons) and toss.
Did you know it was National Farmers Market Week? I found out from a Union Square Greenmarket post yesterday. As those of you who follow A Good Dish know, I am a devotee of our local markets and always seek out a market when I travel. With the internet, it is easy to find a market near you. This time of year, markets are bursting with tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, carrots, leafy greens, melons, peaches and nectarines, plums, flowers and herbs as well as the year round offerings of meat, dairy, bread, pickles, onions, potatoes and root vegetables. If you don’t already shop at your neighborhood farmers market, find one near you and go weekly. There is no fresher produce to be had unless you actually go to a farm or grow it yourself. Check out these photos and then tell me, how can you resist?
All these images are from the Friday 97th Street Greenmarket in Manhattan.
Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer and with it comes the fresh fruit and vegetable season – finally! For those who have been scouring the markets for something green and fresh, local spring asparagus and strawberries are cause for celebration. I was at our farmer’s market on Friday and there were fresh herbs, lettuces, Asian greens and green garlic alongside said asparagus and berries and much of it was organic.
Buying organic vegetables is one easy action we can take toward healthier eating. There are reasons beyond health to buy organic. Every time you buy organic produce, especially local, you help keep family farms thriving, protect workers and water and keep deadly pesticides away from land, animals and people. Organic is more widely available than even a few years ago and, in many cases, not so expensive as it once was. Our neighborhood market carries organic produce at reasonable prices to say nothing of Costco and Amazon. But does all the produce we buy need to be organic? The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization acting to protect the environment and human health, publishes an online “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce” which includes the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean 15” lists of the most and the least pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables. I rely on their research to know what I must buy organic and what I don’t have to and you can, too.
The EWG’s lists are a big help toward understanding where we can be flexible in our shopping choices. According to them, we must choose organic strawberries, spinach and peaches but not necessarily avocados, onions or pineapple. Go to their website (I’ve linked to them above), print them out and put them near where you make your grocery list. Their recommendations will make your fruit and vegetable shopping much easier.
When you just don’t know what to make for dinner, head out to your local greenmarket. Farms are producing at their peak in much of the country right now and all that bounty is just waiting for you to bring it home.
Community supported agriculture (CSA) is a partnership in which individual farms are supported by customers/members who pay up front for a season of vegetable deliveries. We have belonged to a CSA for 21 years, since our son was born. Our first farmers, Hugh and Hannah from Threshold Farm, stopped making city deliveries after 7 or 8 years to concentrate on their local community and their orchards (but we have followed their progress and family over the years and still buy delicious apples, dairy products and vinegar from them when in Columbia County). Our current CSA – Roxbury Farm, to which we have belonged for more than 10 years now, was one of the first to start coming to New York. We receive not only amazing vegetables every year, but also learn so much about farming and the farming life from their thoughtful and insightful weekly newsletters, including recipes for each week’s bounty.
Our current farmers are not only organic but also biodynamic (as were the first), so they farm without pesticides. Their knowledge and practice provide us with a steady source of nutritious and tasty food, including their own lamb, pork and beef which can we order from their website. Every week we pick up whatever 8 – 12 vegetables they picked that that were ripe that week, except in the fall when there are squash, garlic, and onions, etc. that have been aged appropriately so we can store them. We get everything from sugar snap peas, scallions and asian greens like mizuna or tatsoi to basil, dill, cilantro and parsley to tomatoes, broccoli rabe, sweet corn and buttercup squash, to name just a few.
Since we get whatever they grow, I try things I might never have purchased because I wasn’t familiar with them or didn’t think I liked, such as beet greens, celeriac, and Swiss chard, all of which I now have learned to prepare and enjoy. Because their newsletters keep us informed of their weekly struggles (like equipment, insects and the effects of weather on crop outcomes), as well as interesting essays on farm life and work, our farmers have become the rock stars of our summers and autumns; They provide us not only with produce but also remind us of the hard work and commitment demanded in cultivating the land, growing, harvesting, and delivering those vegetables. We feel deep gratitude to Jody and Jean Paul, and their crew, as we collect our share each week and when we eat it.
In recent years, we have subscribed to their winter box program, a 30 lb. box of winter storage vegetables that comes monthly December through February. That means we have local carrots, beets, cabbage, onions, sweet potatoes, celeriac, garlic, watermelon radishes, squash and potatoes for most of the winter. All I have to do is supplement with greens or frozen veggies until the spring crops appear at the farmers markets.
If you are interested in joining a CSA, check out the Just Food website – justfood.org/csaloc – for NYC. For locating a CSA in the tri-state area, localharvest.org is a useful site. Different states and areas of the country have their own websites. Just search CSA and the name of your state or part of the country. Or try https://pubs.nal.usda.gov/organizations-and-websites-related-community-supported-agriculture. It’s an easy way to support local farms, get fresh, local produce directly from the farmers and connect to a community of people who care about well grown food and the people who provide it.