The growing season is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere and soon we will be able to get freshly picked, locally grown foods!
One of the best things you can do to improve the nutritional value and taste of your cooking is to venture over to your local farmer’s market or roadside stand and buy fresh, locally-grown produce. Your local natural food store may even feature local food growers and producers. Mine does and they usually have special weekend events where you can meet and talk with these local growers and ranchers.
I would much rather make the acquaintance of the people who are actually growing and raising my food than suffer a distant, from-my-wallet-to-your-cashier relationship with a huge mega-supermarket conglomerate food chain. I am much more interested in supporting a local grower and seeing that my dollars go into his/her hands rather than having my food dollar pay for transportation, packaging, marketing and warehousing my food—all of which contributes to reducing the taste, freshness, safety and nutritional value of that food.
There has been quite an increase in farmer’s markets over the past decade or so. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, operating farmer’s markets have increased by 17% between 1994 and 2011. One resource I found quoted Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of the USDA, saying, “There’s a yearning for the 99 percent of Americans who are no longer connected to the farm to reconnect.” Check here for the entire article which includes tips for locating truly organic food at these markets. http://www.mnn.com/money/green-workplace/stories/farmers-markets-spur-job-growth-new-report-finds
That is good news and it reflects a demand for fresh, locally-grown food. In a economically stressed environment it is refreshing to see this food marketing niche showing such healthy growth. (Pun intended!)
For both experienced and budding cooks, preparing fresh, locally-grown foods has the big advantage of creating great taste without much effort. We’ve all probably had the experience of picking or buying fresh-picked corn on the cob at the height of its season in the summertime and taking it home and cooking it same day. Can’t get any sweeter! And we’ve all probably had the experience of buying same corn and storing it for a few days in the refrigerator and then tasting the disappointing starchy corn that results from letting it sit. No comparison. Fresh-picked corn wins!
The same is true for all vegetables and other food products. When you buy it fresh and prepare it right away you have superior taste as well as superior nutritional value. That alone makes it easier to create incredibly delicious food without breaking a sweat. And I’m all about making my cooking life cooler and easier in the summertime!
Do you frequent a farmer’s market? I’d love to hear what you find there and how you like it.