To Market to Market

So, it’s August and I have literally no zucchini to write about. This time last year I was up to my eyeballs in cocozella di Napoli. I have to admit I’ve been a little bummed out about not having massive amounts of summer squash to contend with. My carrots need a few more weeks, my string beans are done for the year, and my fall plantings of broccolini and chard are about three quarters of an inch tall. Thankfully, there are plenty of places to purchase locally grown veggies in my neighborhood. Most of the regional grocery stores stock produce from New England this time of year. However, If you really want the localest and freshest in locally grown fresh food you need to find a farmers’ market.

What’s a farmers’ market?  Think of it as a pop-up shop that sells locally grown vegetables, fruits, and if you are lucky meat and dairy products! Farmers’ markets can, and do,

Mr. Food It Yourself and I are no strangers to this place. The restaurant is one of our favorite "date night" locations.

Mr. Food It Yourself and I are no strangers to this place. The restaurant is one of our favorite “date night” locations.

pop up in the strangest places.  I’ve seen them in front of Worcester’s city hall, in public parks, in business parks, and at highway rest stops. Take a spin on your favorite search engine- search “farmers market” and your local zip or postal code- to find markets near you.  Or, click right here to use the USDA’s Local Food Directory.  I found a great market at a local restaurant and ice cream parlor.

First, I stopped at the ATM for a little cash. When you go to a farm stand or farmers’ market I advise you to do the same. Yes, many vendors at these markets have that little pay-with-plastic-slidy-thing for their cellular smart phone. However, everyone takes cash. I always bring cash.

As soon as I saw the tent from Harper’s Farm and Garden  I realized that it is August and I haven’t eaten corn on the cob yet this summer. Yes, I am just as shocked as you are. How could I pass up local ears of butter and sugar? I didn’t.

If you do not live in an area where Butter and Sugar Corn is the prevalent variety you have no idea what you are missing. It is both super sweet and wonderfully flavored.

If you do not live in an area where Butter and Sugar Corn is the prevalent variety you have no idea what you are missing. It is both super sweet and wonderfully flavored.

The farm’s saleswoman, Annie, pointed out the photogenic nature of their heirloom tomatoes.

Those little orange ones, according to Annie, are the "Sungold" variety.

Those little orange ones, according to Annie, are the “Sungold” variety. There was another attendant working the stand who’s name I did not catch.  If you see the Harper’s Farm and Garden (Lancaster, MA) folk at your local market you should ask her name.

Harper’s also had a rainbow assortment of beets and carrots, broccoli, summer squash in green and yellow, leeks, onions, potatoes, and kale (if you consider kale to be food). I’m going to remember these folks for sure. I will also remember that there is another Harper’s farm in the area; I was advised not to confuse the two.

Next, I wandered over to the Balance Rock Farm tent, intrigued by the collection of insulated boxes and coolers they had.  A quick glance at their sign revealed Balance Rock sells meat, poultry, eggs and cheese.

If you have only ever eaten meat and poultry from the grocery store please buy some local stuff at least once. It is so worth it. You might just find that the cling-wrapped stuff at the mega mart no longer holds any appeal.

If you have only ever eaten meat and poultry from the grocery store please buy some local stuff at least once. It is so worth it. You might just find that the cling-wrapped stuff at the mega mart no longer holds any appeal.

I somehow managed to resist their bacon, although I will very certainly buy some another time. I bought a whole chicken. Saleswoman Lynette was proud to show off their multi-hued eggs from the multiple breeds of chicken they keep.

Lynette also told me that Balance Rock sells chicks in the spring. Mr. Food It Yourself is planning a chicken coop this very moment, so I will have to remember to swing by Berlin, MA in April.

Lynette also told me that Balance Rock sells chicks in the spring. Mr. Food It Yourself is planning a chicken coop this very moment, so I will have to remember to swing by Berlin, MA in April.

Food Safety Note: See how I bought the veggies first and the chicken last? You don’t want to walk around in August temperatures with meat or dairy for long. Especially at a farmers’ market where you might get caught up listening to the local musicians playing really good Bob Dylan covers. (Yes, the farmer’s market at Pinecroft Dairy has local musicians.) Either shop for refrigerated foods last or bring a cooler with you. Farmers put a lot of work into your food. Respectfully, please keep it safe to eat.

The chicken was amazing.  The corn was amazing. Farmers are amazing! I admit I am just a little disappointed in my garden this year.  However, I was super happy to meet some friendly farm folks who seem to be having a decent season despite the North East drought. There are plenty of ways to get local food into your DIYet- give your local farmers’ market a try. Where do you go for farm made goodies? Share in the comments!

 

PS: Because I know you’re wondering…

Here's that chicken, with herbs, garlic and tomatoes in a crock pot.

Here’s that chicken, with herbs, garlic and tomatoes in a crock pot.

 

Chicken, cooked and accompanied by gravy made from the crock pot drippin's.

Chicken, cooked and accompanied by gravy made from the crock pot drippin’s.

Half dozen ears of butter and sugar corn, cooked in their natural wrappings under a broiler.

Half dozen ears of butter and sugar corn, cooked in their natural wrappings under a broiler.

Husked and ready to eat!

Husked and ready to eat!