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Farmers Market Update: Takoma Park, Maryland

by | Aug 7, 2011
Purple Basil

Purple Basil, Arugula and Garlic

Halona Black is a personal food shopping consultant, teaches raw and vegan cooking classes, and is building a personal chef business. To learn more you can subscribe to her blog, Garlic & Lemons, follow her on Twitter, or email at garlicandlemons@gmail.com

Farmers Market Update: Takoma Park

by Halona Black

What I love most about living in DC is being so close to small towns. Many people who have not visited DC do not realize that Maryland and Virginia are a quick train or bus ride away. So when I grow tired of looking at backyard alleyways lined with garbage cans, one of the places I head to is the Takoma Park Farmers Market.

Takoma Park Farmers Market

Takoma Park Farmers Market

The Takoma Park Farmers Market is a year-round market that has been serving local residents every Sunday since 1982. It is located smack dab in the center of town on Carroll Avenue, Takoma Park’s own mini “main street.”

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

Most main streets in America are closed on Sundays, but here the shops stay open during the market to take advantage of the traffic. So after picking produce, you can go antiquing, peruse a bead shop, or visit Middle Eastern Cuisine for a delicious brunch for under $10.

Green Beans

Garlic Scapes

What I like most about this market is their commitment to selling local produce. The sellers grow their food within a 125 mile radius of Takoma Park.

Summer Squash

Summer Squash

I have been to a few other area farmer’s markets and have seen produce with the PLU code sticker on it. I’m not a farmer, but if the produce was picked and packaged for travel to the market within the last 24 hours, who has time for putting on stickers?

Melons

Halona Melons

On my last trip I was able to find a few goodies. Eager to utilize my new raw food skills I had learned in a recent class with raw food expert, Aris Latham, I was looking for a few fresh ingredients to use in a recipe.

Here are a few of the jewels I found:

  1. arugula
  2. purple basil
  3. garlic
  4. red early girl tomatoes (Blue Ridge Botanicals)
  5. garlic scapes
  6. savoy cabbage (Waterpenny Farm)
  7. Halona melon (I’m excited about finding a melon that shares my name…) (Blue Ridge Botanicals)
  8. cherry tomatoes
  9. zucchini
  10. hibiscus (Blue Ridge Botanicals)

I used some of these beautiful red early girl tomatoes and garlic to make a delicious, raw spaghetti.

Summer Tomatoes

Summer Tomatoes

Here’s the recipe:

Raw Spicy Spaghetti For Two

Ingredients:

  • 1 package kelp noodles
  • 1 fresh tomato
  • 5 to 6 sundried tomatoes soaked in water (just enough to cover)
  • 7 to 8 dried apricots
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • season salt to taste
  • cilantro leaves to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste

Remove kelp noodles from the package.  Soak in room temperature water for 5 minutes. Drain and put in a bowl. Put all the ingredients except the cilantro in a blender and mix until smooth. Add more fresh tomato if it’s too thick, more dried tomato if too thin.

Adjust seasoning according to your taste. Mix the sauce with noodles and add fresh cilantro leaves. Let it marinate for 5 to 10 minutes and enjoy.

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Farmers Market Update: Omaha, Nebraska

by | Jul 24, 2011
Omaha Farmers Market

Omaha Farmers Market

Before we get started I wanted to let you know that we had another Farmers Market Boot Camp this weekend, and once again it was amazing. I scheduled two more classes on August 13, one at 8am and one at 10:15am. You can sign up here.

Kristin DeKay is co-owner of Image Made, an Omaha based web design company. She enjoys cooking, gardening, photography, and much more, which she writes about on her blog Everyday Potential.

Farmers Market: Omaha

by Kristin DeKay

Omaha’s largest farmer’s market is located in the Old Market. According to their website, the market traces its roots back to the turn of the century. Farmers, residents, and grocers would come together on the corner of 11th & Jackson to sell veggies, produce, jams, honey, and the like. The market continued in this fashion until 1964. Thirty years later, in 1994, the market was revived, and today continues to serve the Omaha community with access to beautiful farm-fresh goods.

Purple Broccoli

Purple Broccoli

I went to the market around 9:30am (It was already approaching 90 degrees!) with my mother-in-law, who was on the lookout for kohlrabi and some bean sprouts. I was just planning to browse and pick up whatever looked good at the moment.

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

The first thing we found was some beautiful kohlrabi. I’d never eaten this before, but my mother-in-law insisted it was great, so I bought one. If you’ve never tried it before, I highly suggest it! It looks a little intimidating to peel and slice, but I assure you, its easier than it looks! Its taste is very neutral, and the consistency is nice and crisp. It’s perfect raw, in a salad, or lightly sautéed for a stir fry.

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

I spotted some bright-colored Swiss chard at the next booth, as well as a pile of yellow squash and zucchini. My dad lives in a small town, and always jokes, ”The only time anyone in town locks their car doors is when zucchini are in season. You might end up with a huge box of it in your back seat!” We had plans to grill some steaks the coming week, so I picked up some to skewer on the grill.

Summer Squash

Summer Squash

I’ve always admired beets. They are so pretty and uniquely shaped. I’ve never actually tried fresh beets—I’ve only had the canned variety and didn’t like them. I’m making it a goal of mine to try as many kinds of veggies I can find, even those I’ve told myself I don’t like. Maybe when I’m feeling brave…

Beets

Beets

The next booth was full of Asian veggies—baby bok choy, Chinese spinach, and Thai eggplant.

Baby bok choy

Baby bok choy

I’d never seen Thai eggplant before, it’s about the size of a golf ball and is green with white stripes. They remind me of miniature watermelons. Apparently, they are commonly used in curry dishes, though in the U.S., the large purple eggplant is generally substituted.

Thai eggplant

Thai eggplant

I passed by a vibrant assortment of white and red radishes, and rhubarb.

Radishes, Rhubarb

Radishes, Rhubarb

I always stop by the Razee’s Berry Farm Booth. In addition to berries, they grow over 92 different varieties of garlic. I always buy some, their garlic is a must-have. I bought three varieties: Nootka Rose, Ontario Giant, and my favorite, Transylvania.

Garlic

Garlic

On our quest for sprouts, I happened to notice these little guys. They are called patty pan squash, also known as scallop squash. They are so adorable! I did a little research and found that they are one of the first squashes domesticated by the Native Americans before the English settlers came to America. These particular squashes only measured about 2 inches in diameter.

Patty Pan Squash

Patty Pan Squash

I love seeing common vegetables in bright colors.

Colorful Carrots

Colorful Carrots

I purchased a savoy cabbage to split with my mother-in-law (they are so big!). I like to throw cabbage in with my salad. I prefer it raw instead of cooked.

Savoy Cabbage

Savoy Cabbage

There were beans, beans, and more beans at the market Saturday.

Burgandy Bush Beans, Wax Beans

Burgandy Bush Beans, Wax Beans

These beautiful purple onions are sold by Rhizoshpere Farms. They are just a tad sweeter than green onions.

Purple Onion

Purple Onion

I don’t usually purchase herbs (I grow my own), but I had to stop and admire this Thai basil.

Thai Basil

Thai Basil

As we were heading back to the car, we found them. Squeaky Green Organics, a family run farm located about 30 minutes from Omaha, had a booth with all kinds of sprouts. Bean sprouts, sunflower sprouts, pea tendrils, and a bunch of other varieties!

Pea Tendrils, Sunflower Sprouts

Pea Tendrils, Sunflower Sprouts

My purchases:

  • Baby Bok Choy
  • Savoy Cabbage
  • Purple Onion
  • Kohlrabi
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Cucumber
  • Sprouts
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Farmers Market Update: Perth, Australia

by | Jul 17, 2011
Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

Carol Matasci is originally from Hawaii, but has been living in Perth, Western Australia for a year and a half. She’s an engineer who loves food and farmers markets.

Farmers Market Update: Perth, Australia

by Carol Matasci

The Subiaco Farmers Market is held on the local primary school grounds every Saturday morning and has become a bit of a ritual for us. All produce comes from Western Australia, with an emphasis on those who produce what they sell and on organic and ethical production. I get excited to see people getting closer to where their food comes from, especially young children.

Subiaco Farmers Market

Subiaco Farmers Market

The market is always bustling with families, people of all ages, and their furry companions. Farmers and vendors sell the freshest fruits and vegetables, ethically raised meats, seafood, honey, olive oil, cheese, eggs, and a variety of cooked foods and treats. I love to get breakfast at the market and listen to the live music.

Food Well Thought

Alice’s stall and her creations

This week I indulged in some stewed apples topped with muesli, yogurt, and honey from Alice Duzevich of Food Well Thought. Alice is passionate about fresh foods made with whole food ingredients that have been minimally processed. She let me taste biscotti she made with kaffir lime leaves from Myaravale Farm a few stalls down. Her foods are so creative and her flavor pairings are inspiring.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

It’s the middle of winter here in Australia, and although I envy those of you in the northern hemisphere with your peaches and tomatoes, I can’t be too upset with the variety that is still available in Perth. Rhubarb is in season almost all year here, and the ruby red stalks look (and taste) so happy despite the cooler weather.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are also in season all year here. Fresh Mushrooms is here every week with button and portobello mushrooms from Casuarina, Western Australia peeking out of their brown paper bags. Their flavor is hard to resist, and I’ve never found supermarket mushrooms that compare.

Apples

Apples

Apples, pears and citrus are at their peak this time of year. We picked up a bag of oranges, and I have an Alice Waters recipe for an orange and olive salad in mind. I also stopped by Alive Juice for some freshly squeezed orange juice slushy. This week, they had juice from Valencia oranges. Alive Juice uses only fresh oranges, not ones that have been stored. They will be squeezing more Navel oranges in the coming weeks as those come into season.

Lemonades

Lemonades

Passing by the Myaravale Farm stall, I tasted their lemonades. A cross between an orange and a lemon, the lemonades look like lemons but are sweeter and less acidic. The lemonade trees at Myaravale Farm in Keysbrook, Western Australia are still young, so the crop is small. I couldn’t resist taking a bag of them home with me.

Beets

Beets

I like to buy a new vegetable or fruit every time I go to the farmers market. Past experiments have included rhubarb, fennel, and broccoflower. This week I picked up a few beets, which I have very little experience with. Next week I think I’ll try kohlrabi. Does anyone have any inspired, wintry recipe suggestions for either?

Broccoli

Broccoli

This broccoli is always delicious simply sauteed with olive oil, salt and pepper, and freshly squeezed lemon.

Lilies

Lilies

Photo:  Lilies

Caption:  Valley Flower Farm Lilies

My sweet boyfriend buys me lilies from Valley Flower Farm every other week because he knows how much I enjoy them. Valley Flower Farm could make more money if their flowers weren’t so fresh: one bunch lasts a full two weeks, which is a prime example of the quality you find at a farmers market.

There was also a new stall this week selling blueberries and blueberry plants – I briefly considered buying a plant, but I’m a little intimidated. It looks like the kind of plant I could kill, and I take it personally when my plants die. I think for now I will focus on seeing the plants I already have through the winter, but I might get up the courage to grow blueberries in a few weeks.

Today’s purchases:

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Apples (Lady Williams, Pink Lady, Granny Smith)
  • Navel oranges
  • Lemonades (Myaravale)
  • Avocadoes
  • Garlic
  • Snow peas
  • Roasted carrot, cashew, and mint dip (Food Well Thought)
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Farmers Market Update: Puerto Rico

by | Jun 26, 2011
Sweet Red Ajicitos

Sweet Red Ajicitos

Before we get started on this week’s amazing farmers market update from Puerto Rico, I want to announce that I’m going to start offering farmers market tours/classes for small groups in San Francisco. I hope you can join us!

Adriana Angelet is a food lover and blogger from Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. She cooks and shares balcony gardening duties with her husband, Eduardo, and their recao eating kitten Gatamiaux. Visit her beautiful blog Great Food 360.

Farmers Market Update: Puerto Rico

by Adriana Angelet

I am very excited to share today some of our finds from the Cooperativa Organica Madre Tierra’s bi-monthly farmer’s market. The farmers set up their stands at the Placita Roosevelt, a fifteen-minute drive from the Old San Juan area, on the first and third Sundays of every month. The market operates year-round; this is definitely one of the blessings of our tropical weather! The farmers’ coop that organizes the market recently celebrated its tenth anniversary.

Cooperativa Organica Madre Tierra Market

Cooperativa Organica Madre Tierra Market

Our first stop was Nelson’s table, where we purchased our regular greens (curly leaf and red leaf lettuces, arugula, spinach, and pac choi), which are available year-round.

Cucumber, Name and Chayote

Cucumber, Name and Chayote

His stand is usually one of the most diverse in terms of its offerings: he had eggplant, yucca and ñame (root vegetables), plantains, cucumbers, chayote (mirlinton), and sweet little red peppers known as ajicitos. Ajicitos are usually used in sauces, chopped into savory dishes, and blended into sofrito, the base for most Puerto Rican dishes.

Root Vegetables

Root Vegetables

Green Papaya Green and Ripe Plantains

Green Papaya Green and Ripe Plantains

We moved on to the Desde Mi Huerto (“From My Farm”) table to check out Raul’s collection of potted vegetable plants and herbs. I really like that they not only sell from their harvest, but foster growing your own at home. I make sure to stop by whenever I have questions on how to tend our balcony garden. We have also purchased some vegetable compost from them to make sure our garden thrives.

Desde Mi Huerto Potted Herbs and Vegetable Plants

Desde Mi Huerto Potted Herbs and Vegetable Plants

In my previous visit, I purchased some honey from Apiarios El Pancho. Their apiary is located only a couple of miles from our house.  In addition to honey, they make honey “butter” – a creamy confection made entirely of honey. I think I might have to get some next time. It would make a great spread on tart fruit slices or crackers.

Honey from Apiarios El Pancho

Honey from Apiarios El Pancho

Since we arrived earlier than some of the farmers, we took a break to enjoy some homemade probiotic yogurt with granola and molasses from Naturalandia and perk up with cortaditos – espressos “cut” with a little half-and-half – from Finca Vista Hermosa (“Beautiful View”). From a bench we watched as the fresh fruit, root vegetables, and vegetables kept arriving and tweaked our shopping list.

Coffee - Hacienda Vista Hermosa

Coffee - Hacienda Vista Hermosa

Although I’m not a fan, a lot of people like pomarrosas, also known as Malay Apples.  They can be ground and juiced or cooked into compotes or jams. They are pretty to look at! From what I’ve read, the tree and flowers are just as beautiful.

Pomarrosas - Malay Apples

Pomarrosas - Malay Apples

This is the first time I’ve seen cacao pods in the market. I bought two, although I have no idea what to do with them (after opening the pod and toasting the seeds). It was only two for a dollar! If I can get two candies out of them, the experiment would be worth it.

Cacao Pods

Cacao Pods

We picked up two whole wheat baguettes from Stephanie at the Peace n’Loaf stand. Besides baking artisanal breads, she is part owner of the first vegetarian pizzeria in Puerto Rico. I know we should eat bread in moderation (Stephanie herself couldn’t stress it enough), but one of the loaves was gone in less than two days.

Baguettes

Baguettes

On the Siembra Tres Vidas (“Plant Three Lives”) tent, I went straight for the green beans. I participated in their CSA last summer, and got hooked on them. The green onions also looked too good to pass up. I used one right after I got home to make a quick dip to take to my family’s Father’s Day luncheon.

Siembra Tres Vidas Green Onions

Siembra Tres Vidas Green Onions

On our way out, we couldn’t help but notice these baby eggplants on the back of a pick-up truck. Although my husband is not a fan, we couldn’t just take pictures of them – we bought pound. It will likely turn into baba ganoush.

Baby Eggplant

Baby Eggplant

Our Purchases:

  • Arugula (Nelson’s)
  • Red and green curly leaf lettuces (Nelson’s)
  • Spinach (Nelson’s)
  • Pac Choi (Nelson’s)
  • Whole wheat baguettes (Peace N’Loaf)
  • Baby eggplant
  • Cocoa pods
  • Green beans (Siembra Tres Vidas)
  • Green onions (Siembra Tres Vidas)

If you’d like to share your local farmers market with Summer Tomato readers, we’d love to have you! Here are the guidelines.

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Farmers Market Update: St. Stephen’s New York

by | Jun 19, 2011
Broccoli

Broccoli

Rachel Haynes is, among other things, a writer, devout foodie, and former caterer. She lives in an apartment with a comically small kitchen.

Farmers Market Update: St. Stephen’s New York

by Rachel Haynes

Many most people think of NYC farmers markets, they think of the huge one in Union Square. With over 140 vendors each week, it’s not hard to understand why. However, it’s about a 30-40 minute trek for me via subway and unless you get there right when it opens, the crowds are insane.

St. Stephen's Green Market

St. Stephen's Green Market

So instead I usually opt for my tried and true St. Stephen’s Green Market just a few blocks away from my cozy (tiny) apartment on the Upper East Side. This market recently became year-round, much to my delight. Another thing I love about it is that they allow dogs.

A great thing the main GrowNYC information stand does is provide delicious recipes for current produce. This week I took the roasted beet and chevre grilled cheese recipe card.

GrowNYC

GrowNYC

I always hit up Samascott Orchards for produce first. Though they’re about two hours from the city, I am going to try to go up there some time this summer because you can pick your own produce.

Being that it is late spring, we got treated to the new arrivals of beautiful broccoli (hooray for leaving the leaves on!) and sweet and crunchy snap peas.

Strawberries

Strawberries

The strawberries here are the sweetest I have ever tasted. In addition to eating them on their own, I have been mashing a couple up with a fork and serving them with champagne at brunch, which people have gone absolutely nuts for.

I love asparagus and am trying to savor every wonderful stalk during its short season. I was inspired by the NY Times article about asparagus and eggs, and have been making that combination for dinner in some fashion almost every night this week.

Asparagus

Asparagus

They also have absolutely amazing baked goods and jams.

No Sugar Apple Pie

No Sugar Apple Pie

For the rest of my produce, I hit up Gajeski Produce, which comes down to us from Riverhead NY.

They always have a beautiful assortment of lettuce, spring mix, kale, arugula, spinach, any salad leaf you could ask for. Today I also found beautifully bright little new potatoes.

Spring Greens

Spring Greens

Gajeski always have something a little quirky, and this week it was elephant garlic. This stuff is as big as a tennis ball and it is STRONG.

Elephant Garlic

Elephant Garlic

And then out of nowhere – scapes!

Garlic Scapes

Garlic Scapes

These were my favorite find this week. Garlic scapes are the shoots of the garlic bulb. As the bulbs start to harden underground, the farmer can ensure further growth by snipping the shoots. They taste amazing. They are like garlic but milder and somehow greener and brighter. I have mainly been using them with my egg and asparagus combos, but I hear that scape pesto is not to be missed, so I will be attempting that this week as well.

The rest of the market, which is in a parking lot of St. Stephen’s church, consists of smaller stands which carry meat, cheese, eggs, bread, fish and flowers.

Farmer Dan from Rabbits Run Farm in Pennsylvania introduced me to the delightfully named Goumi fruit.

Goumis

Goumis

Despite looking like little tadpoles, these things are nutritional powerhouses. Originally from Asia, they have the highest lycopene content of any food, and contain vitamins A and E. The seeds can be eaten and contain essential fatty acids and proteins.

They also help other things around them grow as they are nitrogen fixers and pull the nitrogen out of the air into the soil, which makes it more fertile. They are both sweet and tart and the same time.

Farmer Dan also sells beautiful goat cheeses, goats milk soap and lotions, as well as goat meat.

Soaps

Soaps

I don’t eat much beef, but when I do, I don’t mess around. I get it from Rising Sun Angus Farms, who carry free range, grass fed angus beef. The farmer showed me some amazingly lean ground sirloin (2% fat).

Ground Beef

Ground Beef

It’s gotten to the point where I can do about 70% of my shopping at the farmer’s market, which has not only been a lot healthier, it has been SO much cheaper. (To give you some idea, a quart of orange juice and a quart of milk at the supermarket will cost you $10).

My purchases this week (~$50):

  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Spring Mix
  • New Potatoes
  • Shallots
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Strawberries
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Goat Cheese
  • Goumis
  • Eggs
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Farmers Market Update: Bowling Green, Kentucky

by | May 15, 2011
Spring Onions

Spring Onions

It’s that time of year again! With spring in the air, farmers markets are opening up all over the northern hemisphere. If you’d like to share your local market with Summer Tomato readers, please read the guidelines then let me know.

Greg Hayes is a father, husband, and unintentional health nut who writes about fitting fitness into busy lives at Live Fit Blog. Check it out to read his ramblings about fitness, healthy living, and being mauled by little boys.

Farmers Market Update: Bowling Green, Kentucky

by Greg Hayes

Over the last several years, my wife and I have slowly made the transition to living a healthy lifestyle here in southern Kentucky. Not a simple proposition in a state with one of the highest rates of obesity in the nation.

For me, the responsibilities of graduate school, career, and starting a family had crowded out thoughts of fitness. Seven year ago, after tearing an ACL, I decided it was time to get my weight under control and make fitness a priority. I learned how to lose belly fat, and made the commitment to start eating healthy. It’s taken some time, and making use of the freshest food in the region has been a cornerstone of that healthful eating plan. For me, that plan starts with the SKY Farmers Market.

SKY Farmers Market

SKY Farmers Market

Farmers markets in this area are usually open from mid-April through mid-October, so we’re just getting started with the local harvest. This Mother’s Day weekend the wife, kids, and I wandered out in search of some fresh spring vegetables, and a little camaraderie. We scored on both fronts.

The city of Bowling Green has two farmers markets. The SKY market, open on Tuesday and Saturday mornings, is the newer of the two. They distinguish themselves from their competitors by certifying that the vendors actually produce the wares you’ll find in the market. Membership requires an inspection by the market manager, so you can guarantee the goods available aren’t trucked in from elsewhere. It means you shouldn’t expect to find watermelons in May, but you can be certain to get the freshest possible produce.

Collard Greens

Collard Greens

The vendors do a wonderful job of establishing a festive atmosphere, with live music, animals to interest the kids, and even a hot breakfast, cooked right there.

Little Piggies

Little Piggies

There are no permanent structures, so the vendors pull their trucks and vans in on Tuesday and Saturday to open for business. Despite being a rather cloudy day with a threat of rain, there was still quite a crowd.

Live Music

Live Music

Being early in the growing season, the selection of vegetables is currently weighted heavily toward cool season crops. Kale, green onions, asparagus, and many herbs were in high demand, along with early strawberries.

Fresh Herbs

O’Daniel Farms is one of the most well-known family farms, and their asparagus always goes fast. In addition to a great selection of vegetables, they also sell locally raised beef and chickens. Antibiotic and hormone free, of course.

Local Meats

Local Meats

The kids always head over to check out the selection at Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese, where you can find locally made cheeses in a variety of unusual flavors. From there, its a beeline to look through the current choices of homemade dog biscuits for their two best buddies, Alvin and Jackson.

Homemade Dog Biscuits

Homemade Dog Biscuits

We were there to pick up fresh asparagus but spent Saturday morning celebrating Mother’s Day with my wife, so we arrived late. The asparagus had already sold out, but we found the following items to tide us over until Tuesday morning.

Cheese

Cheese

SKY Market purchases:

What special treats were at your farmers market this week?

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Farmers Market Update: Osaka, Japan

by | Mar 27, 2011
Osaka Market Customer Line

Osaka Market Customer Line

Huge thanks again to Joan Bailey for sharing another Japanese farmers market with us, this time from Osaka. (The first was Tokyo). I absolutely love Joan’s narrative descriptions of the Japanese markets and all the unique offerings, it makes me hunger to do more traveling.

I also asked Joan for a brief update on the situation in Tokyo, where she lives. You can read more about the what is happening there at the bottom of her post.

Joan lives, farms and gardens in Tokyo. Follow her from seed to harvest to market at Popcorn Homestead and Everyday Gardens as well as Twitter.

Farmers Market Update: Odona Farmer’s Market in Osaka

by Joan Bailey

Our final fling in Osaka before returning to Tokyo was a trip to the Odona Farmer’s Market. I’d missed it on a visit to the city in early January, and since we’d self-evacuated there after the March 11th earthquake it seemed as good a time as any to do a bit of exploring. (Nothing like a farmer’s market to scare off the aftershock-radiation blues, I say.)

Japan’s third largest city, Osaka lies about 320 miles south of Tokyo. A charming city with slightly rougher edges than its sleek northern cousin (think Chicago versus New York), it offers the market-goer a veritable cornucopia of shopping locations year-round.

While not the largest in the city, the Odona Market was certainly one of the busiest I’ve seen in Osaka so far. Named for the posh department store whose front sidewalk it fills, market vendors benefit from being on a direct path to Yodoyabashi Station in a major business-shopping-touristy area. Even as we arrived shortly after the market opened a number of serious shoppers were already on the scene and one stall had already sold out of their supply of dried beans.

Seafood Stall

Seafood Stall

Bundled up against a brisk March wind that whipped along the high-rise lined street, shoppers and vendors alike surveyed a scene of fantastic winter bounty. Citrus, a wide assortment of winter greens and vegetables mingled with some early spring favorites like nanohana (a signature spring green) and strawberries, heaps of onions, beautiful brown eggs, white and brown rice, homemade mochi, miso, tsukemono (pickles), cakes, jam, tea, assorted mushrooms, and even bubbling styrofoam crates of fresh (a.k.a. living) seafood were on offer.

Throwing myself into the fray of bicycling housewives, cane-toting grandmothers bent at the waist, black-suited office workers, and young mothers towing uniformed school children, I started shopping.

Narakiyorisa Farmers

Narakiyorisa Farmers

Starting at the end farthest from the station, I first visited Narakiyorisa Farms from nearby Minami Awajishi. Like most vendors this afternoon, three people worked the stall. Two stood behind to answer questions and handle sales while a third stood out front welcoming customers, answering questions, and monitoring restocking needs. While their onions, broccoli, and nanohana tempted, it was the big bag of homemade mochi that had me sidling up for a closer look.

Mochi

Mochi

Mochi, made from pounded rice, can be eaten savory or sweet, grilled or plunked in a bowl of hot miso. Really, the possibilities are endless, and while the texture puts some folks off (a bit gooey and chewy) it is one of my favorite things ever. The varieties are nearly endless, as are the regional variations in flavor, shape and style, and I never pass up an opportunity to purchase it at market. In hindsight, I wish I’d also grabbed some of their dried onion soup. Made with their own onions and a selection of herbs and spices, it did sound like a perfect treat for a chilly spring evening. Instead, I snapped up a bag of their pickled daikon for our journey home. I know what I’ll buy next time!

Just down the line from Narakiyorisa I stopped at a table overflowing with vegetable goodness. Sourced from a number of area farms I was greeted by tight round heads of red cabbage, brilliant white daikon, celery stalks, and bright early strawberries; however, it was Kaizukashi Sobura’s shiitake mushrooms that stole the show. Raised on the outskirts of the city, my mouth watered at the site of those fat little fellows. Before I knew it they were in my bag as the perfect souvenir – light as well as tasty – to carry home.

Strawberries

Strawberries

Since Osaka hosts a number of markets (at least five that I know of) spread throughout the week at varying locations, it’s perhaps no surprise that I ran into two growers I met during my January roamings. Numa-san and her bottles of homemade yuzu, tomato, and orange juices were easy to spot. Last time I had purchased Shishiyuzu (a softball sized yuzu) for marmalade, and this time I gave serious thought to the large bags of yuzu seeds for sale. Showing me the sample jar of them soaking in alcohol (the rubbing, not drinking variety), she recommended the mixture as a refreshing and cleansing spray for face or hands. (A single yuzu holds a huge number of seeds, so discovering a use for all of them would take some of the tedium out of the marmalade process.) I opted instead for her homemade daifuku mochi. After tasting a sample of her komugi (mugwort) mochi with perfectly sweetened anko (sweet adzuki bean paste) centers, I was helpless.

Yuzu Seeds

Yuzu Seeds

Koroku and Nakama Farms split their time between a Saturday market on one of the river walks and the Odona Market. Located in Izumi and Nara (one of Japan’s ancient capital cities and home to some of the most spectacular architecture in the country) respectively, the real attraction of their stall are their heirloom vegetables. (Heirlooms can be hard to find in Japan, even at farmer’s markets. Like the US, most people only know one kind of tomato, soy bean, or squash, despite a long and deep tradition of regional varieties.)

Two kinds of renkon (lotus root), some of the first sansai (mountain vegetables) I’d seen this year, joined a mix of greens. Sensuji, a hardier looking version of mizuna that resembles kale a bit in texture and taste, and Yamatomanna, an older and mixed version of nanohana (rape), had me striking up a conversation in my bad Japanese in short order. Both can be quickly steamed and tossed with soy sauce and sugar like shingiku or thrown in traditional winter dishes like nabe (a dream of a boiled dinner) for a bit of green crunch in a season when it is most desired.

Remembering that we were traveling that evening, I chose instead a bag of hasaku or, as the farmer called them, Japanese grapefruit. Sour with a spark of sweetness, they nearly glowed in their newspaper lined crate at the front of the stall, and they looked like a cheerful gift to bring back to somewhat stressful Tokyo.* It would travel well, and the season for citrus will begin to come to a close shortly. It seemed only prudent to make the most of the opportunity.

Sakezuke

Sakezuke

As the sun began setting and lights flickered on at the stalls, I stopped at Yamato-Shokuhin’s stall to sample their sakezuke. Pieces of eggplant, cucumber, ginger, and daikon are set in sake lees (the dregs of the sake making process) for a period of time, which preserves and flavor them. It’s a fermentation/pickling process similar to what we do with sauerkraut or even quick refrigerator pickles. Usually served in tiny bowls amongst a myriad of other tiny bowls full of delightful and surprising flavors, sakezuke is just one part of a pickle tradition that varies from region to region, town to town. This little flavor of Osaka would come to Tokyo, but this time just for us.

What I bought:

  • Daifuku Mochi from Numa-san
  • Hasaku from Kiroku Farm
  • Regular mochi and pickled daikon from Narakiyoisa Farm
  • Shiitake mushrooms from Kaizukashi Sobura
  • Ginger and cucumber sakezuke from Yamato-Shokuhin

We’ve since returned to a calmer Tokyo. The aftershocks are gradually lessening, although up north in the Tohoku region where the damage is worst, they continue. Our concerns about radiation and earthquakes, while valid, seem tiny in comparison to what is happening there. Supplies to the evacuation shelters continue to be a challenge, although organizations like Second Harvest work to meet it and care for survivors. And while there are also valid worries about radiation contaminated vegetables from Ibaraki, Fukushima, and Chiba prefectures, it perhaps pays more to worry about the farmers themselves. The majority of them are small growers who willingly destroyed valuable spring crops to protect themselves and those they feed. Now, more than ever, it pays – for the farmer as well as the consumer – to buy vegetables from local growers at small stands or at farmer’s markets.

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Farmers Market Update: Madison

by | Mar 13, 2011

Indian Trails Greenhouse Room View

Indian Trails Greenhouse Room View

Joan Lambert Bailey was in Tokyo while preparing this farmers market update from her recent trip to her Madison. I’m happy to report that though Joan and her family were startled by the earthquake, they are all okay. To contribute to the relief effort in Japan, please visit The Red Cross.

Joan lives, farms and gardens in Tokyo when she’s not visiting her native Midwest. Follow her from seed to harvest to market at Popcorn Homestead and Everyday Gardens as well as Twitter!

Farmers Market Update: Madison

by Joan Lambert Bailey

Visiting Wisconsin in February is to enter the heart of winter. Brilliant white landscapes shimmer and snap in the cold wind, and anything green seems months away.

Home from Tokyo for a month-long visit, I ventured down to an old haunt – the Dane County Farmer’s Market in Madison – to find a winter food culture veritably humming with activity and tasty treats. A distilled version of the much larger summer market that rings the Capitol Square twice around, the Late Winter Market (and presumably the Early Winter Market, too) offers up an excellent seasonal selection from the Wisconsin table: maple syrup, a kaledeoscope of cheeses, hearty breads and organic tortillas, mushrooms, and an assortment of meats along with winter greens and root crops.

Dane County Farmer's Market Breakfast Table

Dane County Farmer's Market Breakfast Table

Held at the Madison Senior Center, this day’s Late Winter Market felt more like a church bazaar or community dinner. Rosy-cheeked patrons shook off parkas and hats while deciding whether to start perusing the vendors or grab a table for enjoying the Winter Market Breakfast.

Bleu Mont Dairy Cheese

Bleu Mont Dairy Cheese

True to my Wisconsin roots, I went straight to Bleu Mont Dairy and their bountiful cheese display. A good sharp cheddar is hard to find, but their five-year-old cave-aged bandaged cheddar I tasted there proved a little piece of heaven. The creamy texture and nutty flavor were more than I could have hoped for. Willi Lehner, chief cheese-maker at Bleu Mont, guided me through a few more samples as we talked about his creamery (he’s added a cheese cave and is incorporating alternative energy into the operation), and his own evolution as a cheese-maker (some time spent apprenticing in Switzerland to learn a few old tricks of the trade and his increasing use of organic milk as it became more readily available) since first coming to the market twenty-five years ago.

After tucking a block each of Swiss Reserve and Cave-Aged Banadaged Cheddar into my bag to savor with friends in Tokyo, I ventured around the corner for a closer look at the whimsical cutouts at Gypsy Travelin’ Market. Started at the market twelve years ago with her own recipes, Jae Almond appears to have found a niche offering items made with whole grains, wheat alternatives, non-refined sugar, and vegan recipes. Even as she mentioned business at the market was slow that day due to the protests and a snowy forecast, I couldn’t help but notice a steady stream of her treats fleeing the table. I nabbed the last winged cow cutout for my afternoon coffee, and moved on to see what savory and gluten-free options Silly Yak Bakery and Bread Barn might have.

Silly Yak Great Grains Breads

Silly Yak Great Grains Breads

Gyspy Travelin' Market Winged Cow

Gyspy Travelin' Market Winged Cow

Made fresh daily from non-certified organic wheat berries, the Bread Barn loaves tempted with swirls of cinamon or flecks of jalepeno’s and cheese. The Silly Yak products stored in a cooler to the side (and made in an entirely separate yet neighboring facility) were just as tempting albeit rather picked over by the time I arrived. I opted for a couple rice flour rolls for their heft and golden crusts. (They were utterly fantastic the next day toasted with a bit of unnecessary but oh-so-delicious fresh butter and jam.)

Just as the first flakes of that day’s snowstorm began to fall, I found myself admiring Indian Trails Greenhouse display of lush-leaved edibles and blooming ornamentals. An oasis within an oasis, the table brimmed with the dark green leaves of parsley, the thick ruby-red stems of Swiss Chard, along with sweet-scented jasmine and vibrant primroses, to name but a few.

Such breath-taking greenery put me in a weakened state, when I arrived at Snug Haven Farm’s sign for ‘frost-sweetened’ spinach just down the line. Founded in 1897 as a dairy, the farm uses organic methods to raise hoophouse spinach in the winter months and flowers and tomatoes in the summer. Calvin Hageman, patriarch of the farm and clearly a well-known figure at the market (paper invitations to his birthday party the next day went out with nearly every bag of spinach) offered me a leaf to taste. Talk about truth in advertising: the velvet leaf tasted so deeply sweet and green – so spinach – that I bought a half-pound on the spot for that evening’s salad.

Carl of Snug Haven

Carl of Snug Haven

Snug Haven Spinach

Snug Haven Spinach

At Don’s Produce the greenery again caught my eye – bags of brightly colored mixed greeens looked like the perfect companion to Snug Haven’s spinach – but their dried sweet potatos ultimately stole the show. Straight-up sweet potato chips – no salt or seasoning of any kind – struck me as a perfect addition for soup or to cook with rice. Another customer snapped up a bag saying her dog just loved them, and I was sold. (Our canine friends, though, enjoyed bison liver crackers from Paws Four, a division of Daval’s Bison Meats.)

No trip to a Wisconsin market would be complete without a bit of maple syrup, and so I found myself at Cherokee Bison Farms’ table. Alongside the syrup and their extensive offerings of bison jerky, roasts, ground meat, sausage, bratwurst, etc., they also sold organic sunflower oil. While it might seem odd at first glance – maple syrup, bison meat, and sunflower oil – Leroy and Cindy Fricke bring it all together. The bison pasture in the sunflower fields after harvest and feast in part on the oil processing leftovers – meal and oil settlings – throughout the year to creates a richly flavored meat their customers love.

Cherokee Farms Sunflower Oil

Cherokee Farms Sunflower Oil

Cherokee Farms Maple Syrup

Cherokee Farms Maple Syrup

As the market wound down for the day, I took one last look around the room. Throughout the morning, my eye kept returning to Garden to Be’s table tucked in a corner. Verdant trays of the certified-organic microgreens they grow and sell year-round to area restaurants might have been temptation enough, but the real draw for me were the Black Spanish radishes. Black and crusty and all roughly the size of a tennis ball, the piqued my curiousity. (I’m a fan of root crops almost as much as leafy greens.)

Garden to Be Black Spanish Radishes

Garden to Be Black Spanish Radishes

While chatting with co-owner, Scott Williams, after giving in to my inner vegetable geek I learned about their CSA for canners. Members receive a Processor’s Share four times a growing season with all the ingredients one might desire for homemade sauerkraut and kimchi, the perfect pickle, killer tomato sauce, pesto, rhubarb butter, or a salsa hot enough to thaw winter’s frosty edges. I would have signed up on the spot if I lived here.

What I bought:

  • Bleu Mont Dairy’s Reserve Swiss Cheese and Cave Aged Bandaged Cheddar
  • Gypsy Travelin’ Market Winged Cow Cutout Cookie
  • Silly Yak’s Rice Flour Rolls
  • Snug Haven Farm Spinach – a half pound bag (that barely made it to the car)
  • Don’s Produce Sweet Potato Chips and Salad Greens
  • Daval’s Bison Meats Paws Four Dog Treats
  • Cherokee Bison Farm’s Maple Syrup – Four half-pints
  • Garden to Be’s Black Spanish Radishes
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Farmers Market Update: Indianapolis

by | Mar 6, 2011

Radishes from Harvestland Farm

Radishes from Harvestland Farm

Midwest represent! I’m thrilled to have reader Chandra Flack share with us what farmers markets are like in the winter in Indiana. Who says you can’t eat well if you don’t live in CA or FL? We’re calling bollocks.

By day Chandra is a first year medical student at IU School of Medicine. By night she’s a techie, foodie, and geekgirl extraordinaire. She hopes to one day integrate her knowledge of medicine, social media, and healthy eating to focus on preventative care for her patients. Follow Chandra @chandraflack on Twitter.

Farmers Market Update: Indianapolis

by Chandra Flack

It was a brisk 32 degrees this morning as I bundled up in my winter coat to head over to the Indy Winter Farmers Market, an urban market located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, IN.

Many of the people who live, work, and shop downtown are young 20 and 30‐something college students and beginning professionals, so the market tends to have a youthful feel to it. However, being a diverse urban environment the personality of the market’s patrons is refreshing in its variety, which is characteristic of our city.

Swiss Chard (look, color!) from Good Life Farms

Swiss Chard (look, color!) from Good Life Farms

Salad greens

Salad greens

Snow is on the ground and greenery is hard to come by this time of year, unless you’re a fan of evergreens. The weather this morning is a perfect indicator of why I think the best way to enjoy a winter farmers market is to first adjust your expectations. The food simply isn’t going to be as flashy when we have to rely on tiny greenhouses and cellar stores of food harvested last fall. Don’t walk in expecting the vibrant reds and oranges and purples that you would see in the summer. Our produce comes dressed instead in subtle greens, whites, and tans.

Also, don’t necessarily expect to leave with an entire week’s worth of groceries. It will, more than likely, be necessary to supplement at the local Whole Foods or Kroger to get acceptable variety in your 5‐a‐day of fruits and veggies.

Schacht Farm

Schacht Farm

To fully enjoy the experience, its instead best to focus on what the winter market does provide — year long access to high quality meat, eggs, and milk products, as well as a more relaxed chance to form relationships with those vendors that will be selling you your long awaited strawberries, peaches, and tomatoes in the summertime.

Oh, and our market is inside so you get to enjoy climate control and as a bonus, most vendors accept credit cards.

Shiitake Mushrooms and Salad Lettuce from Homestead Growers

Shiitake Mushrooms and Salad Lettuce from Homestead Growers

Raw Milk Cheese from Sunset Acres (Rockville, IN)

Raw Milk Cheese from Sunset Acres (Rockville, IN)

Even though it is late February and our fresh food supplies are dwindling, we do have a healthy stock of salad supplies. Thanks to greenhouses, hothouses, and hydroponics we can still enjoy arugula, radishes, basil, spinach, and many other varieties of fresh greens.

Swiss Chard (look, color!) from Good Life Farms

Swiss Chard (look, color!) from Good Life Farms

Broccoli Rabe from Harvestland Farm

Broccoli Rabe from Harvestland Farm

One of the more dangerous things about our farmers’ market are the artisan vendors that take over while many of our produce vendors enter hibernation for the winter. Placed conveniently near the entrance you can enjoy samples of artisan marshmallows roasted over an “open fire.” They come in all sorts of tempting flavors like roasted pineapple, chai spice, and of course, elephant ear.

Marshmallows from 240Sweet

Marshmallows from 240Sweet

Marshmallows from 240Sweet

Marshmallows from 240Sweet

If sweets aren’t your thing there are plenty of other options. There are an unbelievable amount of baked goods, my personal favorite being freshly baked bread. After trying out a crusty baguette with baked‐inn parmesan and garlic or the flavorful, nutty sunflower bread, you’ll never be able to go back to Wonder bread.

Sunflower Bread from Brotgarden

Sunflower Bread from Brotgarden

Every week I am reminded that I need to purchase the supplies to make looseleaf tea so I can try one of the many varieties that Peace Leaf Tea has available. The tea flavor is fresh and vibrant, leaving me with absolutely no desire to overly sweeten with sugar and honey. It is delicious all on its own.

Apples at the Indy Winter Farmers Market

Apples at the Indy Winter Farmers Market

Looseleaf Tea from Peace Leaf Tea

Looseleaf Tea from Peace Leaf Tea

Indiana farmers’ markets have two main signature items. In the summertime it is corn — lots and lots of corn. In the winter, its apples. Because many orchards sell their apples on‐site during the main fall harvesting months, you’ll actually have an easier time finding apples at the farmers market later on in the winter. While slightly past their prime, they still have a crispness that is unmatched by supermarket varieties.

Ultimately, the farmers’ market (winter or summer) is a chance for me to spend time with my two most favorite things in life: people and food. Although some weeks are more plentiful than others, I enjoy knowing that I am contributing to my local economy and feeding my body food that is both delicious and healthy. I am a relative newbie when it comes to local food consumption, but I was hooked the moment I saw Darya’s first SF Farmers’ Market Update. I couldn’t wait to visit and share what we had here in the Midwest. We may not have quite as much variety as they get in sunny California, but I am still quite satisfied with our community’s effort to focus on locally produced, high quality food.

My purchases this week:

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Farmers Market Update: Riverside

by | Jan 30, 2011

Mission On Main Street

Natalie is a Computer Science graduate turned Software Developer living in Moreno Valley, CA. The highlight of accomplishing her MS was presenting for the third IEEE International Conference on Space Mission Challenges for Information Technology. Though she adores science, she is most passionate about great food, heavy metal, and kitties.

Check out her heavy metal foodie blog, The Devil Wears Parsley, find her on Twitter @DvlWearsParsley and like The Devil Wears Parsley Facebook Page.

Farmers Market Update: Riverside, CA

By Natalie Wiser-Orozco

Riverside, CA is one of the jewels of the Inland Empire. The beautiful architecture downtown sets the perfect stage for a quaint one-block farmers market every Saturday on Main Street, rain or shine!

Baby Kale

Dickens Festival Man

Every Saturday morning, though I do love to sleep in, I am always excited to get down to the market. My husband and I have been frequenting this fruit and vegetable paradise for a few years now, and I just can’t get enough of the local produce, free-range chicken, and eggs.

Bosc Pears

Free Range Chicken and Eggs

Prior to visiting the farmer’s market, I had heard about the benefits of buying food from these kinds of places. Not only are you supporting local farms, but most of the growers are certified organic in the surrounding area, meaning no icky pesticides to consume. The thing that really got me hooked on the idea was the taste and quality of the vegetables. We took carrots home the very first trip, among other things, and I was astounded. The carrots tasted so sweet, and, well – like carrots! The ones from the grocery store were so bland and boring compared to these.

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Green Beans

Berries

Now that we’ve been on the circuit for awhile, if I miss a week, I get grumpy. Who wants to settle for bland produce? Not this gal. The market has really helped me learn what produce will be present for each season. It also helps distinguish the seasons themselves here in Southern California. When you’ve got 74 degree highs in the middle of winter, it can be hard to tell them apart.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Dried Apples

It’s winter in Riverside, meaning that my favorite citrus has arrived. About two years ago, we stumbled onto the blood orange when our favorite vendor had them on display. We went nuts for them! They have a slight earthy flavor compared to their counterparts, but are sweet vehicles of goodness. I always think of beets when I eat them, because the color is so similar and fantastic.

Clementines

Blood Oranges

This week, along with stocking up on blood oranges, I found some exceptional Clementines – a citrus I hadn’t tried before, and some gorgeous baby kale. I have been hearing of the health benefits of apple cider vinegar that hasn’t been pasteurized, so I picked up some of that as well.

One booth has beautiful beeswax candles that smell great and clean the air, rather than pollute it like regular petroleum based candles. Finally, a must-have every week is the free-range chicken and eggs. The chicken is so tender and delicious. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the supermarket brands.

Beeswax Candles

Olive Oils

The vendors are all so friendly here, and most are pesticide free and organic. It makes “grocery shopping” a pleasurable experience rather than a chore, and the quality is un-matched. If you haven’t already, I urge you to support your local farms while simultaneously upgrading your healthstyle!

Friendly Vendor

This weekend’s haul:

  • Blood Oranges, Bosc Pear, and Clementines (Hillside Family Farms, San Diego, CA (310) 529-2361)
  • Cauliflower and Green Beans (RS Farms, Riverside, CA)
  • Baby Kale and Butternut Squash (Sage Mountain Farm, Aguanga, CA)
  • Dried Apples and Apple Cider Vinegar (Ha’s Apple Farm, Tehachapi, CA)
  • Free Range Chicken and Eggs (La Bahn Ranch, Temecula, CA)
  • Blackberries, Blueberries, and Raspberries (Brenda’s Berry Farm, Nipomo, CA)
  • Yellow Onions (Gama Farms, Arvin, CA)
  • Squaw Bread (Old Town Bakery, 8631 Baseline Rd., Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730)

If you’d like to share your farmers market experience at Summer Tomato, please read this.

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