It is almost that time again...the season for Farmer's markets will soon be upon us! Many farmer's markets start in April and run as late as October, growing in bounty as the season progresses.
Farm food is important to me, because I was born and raised on a farm in Central Washington. If you have ever had a fresh tomato, apple, ear of corn, chicken, potato, cherry, asparagus, beet, carrot, pea or egg...well, then you know what it is like to be spoiled and you should have no doubt in your mind what good food is. You also know just how overprocessed and tasteless much of the food you get at the store is. My grandfather was an apple orchardist and I was raised with orchards all around. When I was young I was taught that if you wanted an apple you could just pick one (the farmer's were generous-just respect the property you were taking it from), but I still remember very clearly the first time as a young adult that I debated buying an apple from the store. Paying for apples seemed so strange. I bought 3 golden delicious (my favorite) at $1.29 per pound and they were so mushy and flavorless I could not eat them.
Living in western washington is challenging, most of my tomatoes have been mealy and they don't ripen as well on the vine during our short (and rainy) growing season. My attempt at corn was eaten by deer and peppers fell short as well. Zucchini and summer squash thrived, as did leeks and salad greens- enough success to make me want to try, try again. Produce from the farm lands of central and east Washington are very accessible here, and west of the Cascade range we have an added blessing of fabulous seafood; oysters, crab and salmon and clams are harvested very near my home.
If you are appreciative of farming- you know that being a farmer is a tough profession. It is for this reason that I want to highlight farmers in my blog today.
Visiting a farmer's market is just one way to keep our farmer's farming. You can find many great resources on the internet, just search on "farmer's markets and (insert your town, county, region here)". If you are in the puget sound region, http://www.pugetsoundfresh.org/ is a great website for locating markets and farms and for learning about what is in season, and http://www.snohomishmarkets.com/ is another good resource.
When I am done with school (many of my most ambitious statements begin this way...*sigh) I plan to explore the locavore lifestyle with a little more vigor. Right now, I am just a little too dependent on fast food and meals that my husband can prepare easily...and I have a horrible penchant for my "study food" (salty, sweet, and junky assortments).
Locavorism - eating what is local and in season- is a great way to support local farms and show some sensitivity to the environment.
A fabulous book on this subject of becoming a locavore is by Barbara Kingsolver, it is called "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" and it details the year that this author and her family moved from the desert to a family farm where they vowed to eat only what they could grow or find within a close proximity to their home. The book contains some great recipes and information on challenges that face our farmers today- especially those who are trying to preserve and employ sustainable practices. http://www.animalvegetablemiracle.com/
Another option that Simon and I have used is to order weekly produce from a local farm. Klesick Family Farms delivers straight to our door. The fruits and veggies are seasonal- so they are fresh-organic, and priced better than our local grocery chain. http://www.organicproduceshoppe.com/ They also sell homemade bread and eggs.
I will be making an effort to get my own garden up and running this year, in spite of my crazy school schedule. I have a cherry tree, a fuji apple tree, blueberry bushes, strawberries and blackberries (in overabundance!) that will require very little effort between now and graduation in June. The garden itself will be a bit more of a challenge- but any time I can get my hands dirty out there, will be like "day spa" time for me.