Sunday, July 27, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Looks like high summer has settled in the past few days. Its supposed to be 97 today! And picking in the sun I can assure you is much hotter. But the good news is that ripe red tomatoes are finally here. The farmers market will be swarmed. Great photo in the Hampshire Review this week of the nice crowd at the market. Please come early for the best selection. They are at least two weeks behind last year, but they are indeed finally here. The new Sun Gold salad tomatoes are even better than we expected. They go very fast. Its been interesting and fun.
I think every person that sampled a Sun Gold at the market immediately bought a pint. Fun to see the smiles, comments and head shakes they bring. Even one fist pumping in the air if you can imagine that. We've been picking blackberries daily. So from now and for the next few weeks it will be high season for the blackberries. So if blackberry cobbler, pie, jam or blackberry anything is on your wish list, now is definitely the time. Red raspberries will follow the blackberries. Plan accordingly. Sweet peppers are nice size now. We'll have at least a full crate of those. For those making chutney and salsa and the like, we have green heirlooms which work well for that. Last weekend was a new phenomenon for the Romney market. There were actually people waiting in the parking lot when we pulled in at 8:30 AM. The market doesn't even open until 9 AM. Pretty amazing. Its encouraging and motivational to meet these folks that "get it". For ex, we sell our summer squash for 3 for $1, any size. They are $1.29 per pound at the grocery store. So there is the value, you get fresher and at least 1/2 price at the farmers market versus older, dried out and more expensive at the grocery store. By cutting out the shipping, handling fuel, delays, storage, etc. we can pass on the savings to everyone at the farmers market. I field lots of emails and inquiries all week from folks. Please feel free to introduce yourselves to us so we can put names with faces. Hope to see you there.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Very informative blog post from The Simple Dollar. See www.thesimpledollar.com You can subscribe to their RSS feed or with your email address.
Posted: 16 Jul 2008 03:00 PM CDT
I’m always on the hunt for fresh food, grown locally and preferably grown organically and with sustainable practices. Not only are such items healthier, they’re also almost always much more flavorful, too. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried a salad made up of greens that were cut less than an hour before.
The only problem with this approach to eating is that it’s often perceived as very expensive. If you browse through the food options at your local mega grocery, you’ll usually find that healthy options, like organic fruits and vegetables, free range chickens and eggs, grass-fed beef, organic milk, and so on are usually substantially more expensive than the regular versions of the products. For a family on a budget, that’s a hard one to justify - is someone trying really hard to get by going to spend an extra two dollars a pound for organic carrots versus regular carrots? How about an extra two dollars a gallon for organic milk? It’s not something that fits well into the average budget.
The secret, though, is that fresh and healthy food is often just as cheap as the regular stuff - if you bother to do a little bit of looking around. Over the years, I’ve tried all sorts of methods for getting fresher and more healthy food on our table without exploding our food budget. Here are ten tactics that work.
1. Know what’s actually available to you.
The 100 Mile Diet Map identifies original sources for fruit, vegetable, dairy, and meat in your area that originate from within 100 miles of your zip code. In other words, it’s a great way to find truly fresh locally grown stuff.
LocalHarvest.org finds all sorts of retail sources for locally grown foods all around you.
2. Be adventurous in your food choices.
If you have an opportunity to try a new fruit or vegetable or other fresh food at a very inexpensive price, don’t skip it because you’re unfamiliar with it. Instead, pick some up, go home, flip open a cookbook, and try something new - you’ll almost always be glad you did, plus you will have saved some money. I used to avoid okra, for example, but once I tried it in a dish with red beans, rice, and andouille sausage, I was a convert.
3. Shop for produce regularly at farmers markets.
The challenging part of a farmers market, though, is that you’ll never be quite sure what you’ll come home with. The selection is completely dependent on what’s in season, and thus you’ll not find preserved and shipped out of season items there. Thus, it’s much more difficult to make a shopping list for a farmer’s market. Instead, when you’re in need of produce, find out when your local farmers market is open and hit that before stopping at the grocery store. Then, use what you buy there as the backbone for your meal planning.
4. Use farmer’s markets for information, too.
Almost everyone I’ve interacted with at a farmers market is glad to help with all of these questions. Why? First of all, they love this stuff. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be at a farmers market. Second, they know that providing you with good information will likely make you a happy customer and keep you coming back.
So ask. Ask lots of questions. Learn more about the food you’re eating and where to get more of it.
5. Join a CSA.
I stopped by to check out how their system works. Basically, you buy a “share” early in the year that costs around $300. This “share” earns you a giant box of produce every week throughout the late spring, summer, and early fall - twenty weeks in all (making the cost effectively $15 a box). The content of the box is basically an equal share of whatever happens to be in season at the moment - early on, it’s heavy on the lettuce, asparagus, and other greens; by mid-summer, there’s lots of tomatoes and corn; later on, you might see squashes and the like. For the volume of food you get, it’s a tremendous deal, especially considering it’s fresh and local.
You can use the tools in tip #1 to find your own local CSA. You might also find that some of the people at farmers markets also run CSAs, so they may be able to give you a lead, too.
6. Start your own garden.
It’s even lower when you add in the concept of gardening as a hobby when compared to other hobbies. An hour spent in the garden, if you enjoy it, is an hour well spent, never mind the fact that it provides some financial and nutritional benefit over the long haul.
7. Share a garden with someone else.
Not only does this provide you fresh food, it also transforms gardening into a social activity that you can share with a friend. Even a medium sized garden can provide a good amount of fresh produce for two families, and with a partner you can spread out the costs of the materials and the effort, too. A win-win all around, and it gets tasty fresh produce on your table.
8. Establish a bartering relationship with someone who gardens extensively.
Again, this turns fresh produce into a win-win. Not only is it free for you now, you’ve also got an afternoon at a friend’s house, helping him or her out. Good conversation, an afternoon well spent, and some fresh food later on? You can’t beat it.
9. Use your grocery flyer to identify healthy sales, then plan around them.
Since you have the advantage of knowing the fresh produce you’ll have, use it as the backbone for your meal and shopping planning. Find recipes that use these fresh items, then construct a shopping list out of what you need for these recipes.
10. Join your local Slow Food convivum.
Slow Food is an organization dedicated to “slow food” - the opposite of fast food. They organize into local chapters (called conviva), where people meet and share ideas about eating locally and often share information online, too. These groups are treasure troves of information on inexpensive, local, fresh produce and well worth looking into if you’re interested in the topic.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Friday, July 04, 2008
Other content on Culinate related to farmers markets includes:
- A monthly column by Deborah Madison, the award-winning chef and author of Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers Markets http://www.culinate.com/columns/deborah
- Recipes from our kitchens, our contributors, and featured cookbooks � using ingredients readily available at most farmers markets http://www.culinate.com/recipes/collections/farmers_markets
- Articles on shopping at farmers markets on a budget, by Matthew Card; what questions to ask farmers at the market, by Culinate Managing Editor Caroline Cummins; and an interview with CSA (community-supported agriculture) pioneer Elizabeth Henderson
Sent: Thursday, July 03, 2008 11:38 AM
Subject: From the First Lady's Desk: July is West Virginia green month
July 3, 2008
JULY IS WEST VIRGINIA GREEN MONTH
From the First Lady’s Desk:
A monthly message by First Lady Gayle C. Manchin
Contact: Lara Ramsburg , 304-558-2000
West Virginia has definitely gone green. There is not a nook or cranny anywhere in this state that is not lush and green from trees, foliage, ferns and other beautiful plants that call West Virginia home. Joe and I came across the scenic highway from Marlinton to Richwood recently, and the vista of vibrant green against the blue sky was absolutely breathtaking.
With all the green around us at every turn, it is a great time to think of ways individually, as a community and as a state that we can be better stewards of our beautiful landscape and environment. One of the biggest win-wins for everyone is buying fresh, locally grown produce in our own neighborhoods. The vegetables and fruits grown in West Virginia taste better and are better for us than those shipped in from other states and countries. I was amazed at the variety of vegetables and fruits grown regularly and organically across our state. In addition, many chefs and restaurants are promoting buying West Virginia products, and they have found poultry, beef, fresh fish like mountain trout and artic char, eggs and dairy products that can accommodate all their needs and recipes.
Within our own homes and yards, we can do many little things everyday that begin to add up when you calculate over weeks and months from one house to an entire community. Adding insulation and sealing cracks around doors and windows can reduce both heating and cooling bills, and is also a great start in practicing energy conservation.
In that same vein, just remembering to turn off lights, televisions and unused electrical appliances are among little efforts that pay off. The newest energy-efficient light bulbs cost more initially, but will pay for themselves in savings in a big way over their lifetime. Also, using solar or LED (light-emitting diode) lighting around your lawn is a big energy saver. The LED lights are very bright and use very little power and will last five to 10 times as long as standard outdoor lights!
It is also interesting to note that it is not only professional chefs, but everyday “mom-and-pop chefs” that are taking a little corner of the yard for an herb garden and a few favorite items like tomatoes and peppers. Again, a few steps to the garden, a fresh salad and a little pruning on the side are other win-wins for a healthier lifestyle and greener environment.
It is worth noting that when doing seasonal planting, plants, flowers and grasses that are native to our region are the most attuned to our soil, climate and water particularities. Therefore, they will thrive with less care than tropical and other imported varieties and, let’s face it, they are gorgeous! While water is not necessarily scarce in West Virginia, a barrel sitting in an area of the yard to collect rain water is another way to conserve and cut down on our water bills and is handy for watering our new gardens.
Enjoy the green of West Virginia, whether it is in your own backyard or in one of our beautiful state parks or national forests. If we each do our part in a small way, it will make a big difference in the conservation of our land and energy.