Farmer's Market Finds
Headed for your local market in search of farm-fresh produce? Check out these tips and recipes
Where can you get the season's best produce at reasonable prices? Where can
you chat up the strawberry grower himself, and talk about the crazy winter we
just had? Where can you sample a plumcot or a white peach for the first
The farmer's market, that's where! I look forward to it every summer. It is,
after all, where I buy flats of berries to make my signature ''less-sugar
Every community farmer's market is going to be a bit different, because each
market reflects what the local farmers can grow in that particular part of the
country. I don't often see blueberries at my market, for example, but I'm
guessing there are hoards of blueberries at farmer's markets on the Eastern
seaboard. On the West Coast where I live, you do see other berries, with
California strawberries being the consistent star.
If you haven't yet made it to your local farmer's market, I've got six
reasons for you to do so. And before you go, read up on my five tips for
farmer's market shopping.
6 Reasons to Love Farmer's Markets
1. Free samples. Generally, farmers have samples of their
produce out and ripe for the picking! This is your chance to sample fruits
you're curious about before you buy them. I tried a plumcot (a cross between a
plum and an apricot) the other day, and I loved it!
2. Organics abound. You can usually find at least some
organic produce at your farmer's market. In my experience, it seems that the
flavor in organic produce tends to be pleasantly strong. Often your taste buds
just go ''wow!'' after a taste. Don't underestimate the popularity of organics,
either. The natural/organic foods business is expected to grow 63%, to surpass
the $46 billion mark, by 2010, according to a report from Packaged Facts, a
market research publisher.
3. You can support local farmers. Supporting local farmers
is a good thing. I respect this profession immensely, and smaller farms need
all the support they can get to keep things going.
4. Everything's in season. Most everything you'll see at
your neighborhood farmer's market is in the peak of its season. From week to
week, you never know for sure what produce items will show up at a given
market. But if it isn't in season, it's probably not going to be there.
5. You can ask an expert. At the individual fruit or
vegetable stands, you can often ask the growers or helpers about the produce
they are selling. You'll learn something every week. On my last farmer's market
shopping spree, I learned that it's going to be a poor cherry season here in
Northern California. It seems the unusually heavy rain we had in spring washed
too many blossoms off the cherry trees.
6. Inspiration. There is nothing quite like the vibrant
colors, fresh smells, and fabulous flavors of a farmer's market to get you
excited about incorporating the gorgeous bounty of produce into as many meals
and recipes as possible.