What an absolutely gorgeous day to wander around the Union Square Farmer’s Market! The bounty of the season seems almost surreal: bicolor corn, heirloom tomatoes in so many colors and shapes, Peruvian Purple potatoes, fresh mozzarella balls made from local milk, gigantic watermelons, juicy peaches and apricots and plums! The list simply goes on and on.
So what’s all this buzz about farmer’s markets and eating locally? Why the big fuss? Well, think back to what a fresh, just-off-the-vine tomato tastes like. It’s like the sun has been captured in a fruit. The taste is absolutely divine. Now, think about what a tomato in the middle of winter tastes like: dry, mealy, bland. Different foods grow better in different weather (asparagus are the first harbingers of spring in late April, morphing into strawberries in early June, and on and on).
Eating through the seasons is not only a constant new adventure for your tastebuds, it’s also the way Nature intended. Winter is a time to slow down, yielding squashes, beets, potatoes, carrots and parsnips. Spring is a time of rebirth and we see the first eager signs of summer yet to come: asparagus popping up through snow. Summer is an explosion from every plant, and when the living is easy: food takes less preparation–a handful of blueberries, slices of watermelon, corn and tomato salads.
Buying from local farmers helps keep dollars in their hands and in your community instead of sending it to a big box store executive. You have power as a consumer–every dollar counts–and you can vote to keep your neighboring farmers in business. Buying directly from them also presents an incredible opportunity to really learn where your food comes from. They can tell you how they grow their food, and what they believe in terms of environmental stewardship. Plus, there is nothing like the excitement of watching (and tasting!) the seasons roll through your life. It’s a connection to the earth, no matter where you live or what your lifestyle is.
Want to find local farmers, but don’t know where to start? Check out LocalHarvest, a website dedicated to connecting consumers with farmers, markets and CSA shares. Time for me to go make a basil, heirloom tomato and fresh mozzarella sandwich!