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Farmers Market Update: Santa Fe

by | Sep 26, 2010
Tomatoes

Tomatoes

One of my favorite Summer Tomato contributors recently took a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and visited the farmers market there.

Virginia Griffey is an editor in Oakland. She spends her time running, snowboarding, cooking, and hanging out with her friends and dog, Pebbles. Virginia is currently training for her third marathon while trying to raise $1,500 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Donations of any size are greatly appreciated.

Follow her on Twitter @virginiagriffey.

Farmers Market Update: Santa Fe

by Virginia Griffey

I am lucky enough to have some wonderful friends, Henry and Kristin, living in Santa Fe, the unique and beautiful 400-year-old city that is the capital of New Mexico. I went there at the end of May for a visit, but I didn’t get a chance to go to the Santa Fe Farmers Market. When I went back again this month, I made visiting the market a top priority.

First I visited the Santa Fe market’s website to find out what to expect. The market operates year-round with four markets a week during the summer (two Tuesday, one Thursday, one Saturday). The agricultural products sold at the market are grown in a 15-county region of northern New Mexico. Crafts and processed items are made with agricultural products from that region. The market accepts WIC and food stamps. As is the norm at farmers markets, no dogs are allowed (besides service dogs), but there is a free dog-sitting service.

Shallots

Shallots

Squash Blossoms

Squash Blossoms

I also examined the website to see what kinds of products to expect. Santa Fe is at an elevation above 7,000 feet, so I thought there might be some interesting vegetables that aren’t available in the Bay Area, but I didn’t see any fruit or vegetable vendors offering anything that stood out much. I did, however, notice that there was a vendor selling yak meat, and I was very excited about trying some. Yaks are high-elevation animals, so it seemed to make sense that someone might raise them in the area.

Yak

Yak

I headed to the market on a Tuesday morning. I wasn’t going to be in town for the Saturday market, so I was crossing my fingers that Tuesday’s market would have a good showing of vendors. It did. There was a lot of squash, corn and stone fruit available, but Henry and Kristin have squash in their garden, and we’d just bought corn and peaches the day before at a fruit stand in Velarde, about 40 miles north of Santa Fe. So I looked around for what else was available.

White Peaches

White Peaches

Chard

Chard

Following Darya’s farmers market suggestions, I made sure to walk around the market, check out all the vendors and try a few samples before buying anything. I tried white and yellow peaches and honeycrisp apples at Freshies of New Mexico. I admired the lovely allium offerings at Funnel Farm’s booth — leeks, shallots, early bosque garlic and onions. I ate some yellow carrots at Tina’s Farm. To me, they seemed milder and less sweet than the orange carrots that I’ve had.

Yellow Carrots

Yellow Carrots

After walking the length of the market, I came to Jacona Farm, which had a colorful selection of heirloom tomatoes as well as baskets of padron and shishito peppers. Best of all, they had samples of their tomatoes. Trying these tomatoes was my first true “Summer Tomato” experience. They were the best tomatoes I’d ever tasted: pure tomato flavor, the perfect soft but not mealy texture. Though each tasted like a tomato, they all tasted different from the others. I couldn’t help but think that this amazing variety of flavors is one of the things we risk losing by buying off-season “notional tomatoes” at supermarkets rather than supporting these amazing local farmers.

I ate some grilled shishito peppers from Monte Vista Farm. Kristin had told me about these mild peppers, which often are fried, so I sought them out. Monte Vista also was selling garlic scape powder, so I bought a packet to bring home. I stopped by South Mountain Dairy’s booth to sample a few goat’s milk products. The dairy’s motto is, “It’s all about the girls.” I tried apricot chèvre, green chile chèvre and queso fresco. The vendor was selling goat’s milk but didn’t have any samples, but I did get to try some blackberry-flavored goat’s milk yogurt.

Chevre

Chevre

Shishito Peppers

Shishito Peppers

Next, I headed to the Taos Mountain Yak booth. The vendor said the meat is lower in fat and cholesterol than beef but high in omega-3s and stays very tender when cooked. Henry and I were planning a barbecue for later in the week, so I picked up a couple of yak tenderloin steaks to grill up. I also grabbed a bag of yak jerky milk bones for Henry and Kristin’s dogs.

That Friday, Henry threw the steaks on the grill. They were small, and generally I like my steaks about medium rare, so I was worried it would be very easy to overdo it, especially since neither of us had any experience with yak meat. Henry flipped the steaks over a few times as I became increasingly concerned that they were getting overcooked. Finally, I just couldn’t watch anymore. I went inside to get something to drink, came back out, and Henry finally had taken them off the grill. I looked at my steak, thinking about all the money I’d spent for it to end up overdone, and took a bite. It was the most tender meat I’ve ever tasted. I think Henry could have cooked them a lot longer without any problem. As far as taste and tenderness, I give yak meat two thumbs up!

Inchelium red garlic

Inchelium Red Garlic

Leeks

Leeks

Purchases:

  • striped German tomato – Jacona Farm
  • rainbow chard – Santa Cruz Farm
  • blackberries – Santa Cruz Farm
  • yellow carrots – Tina’s Farm
  • honeycrisp apples – Freshies of New Mexico
  • inchelium red garlic – One Straw Farm
  • shallot – Funnel Farm
  • pinto beans – Shirley Martinez
  • shishito peppers – Monte Vista Orchard
  • garlic scape powder – Monte Vista Orchard
  • green chile chèvre – South Mountain Dairy
  • yak tenderloin steaks – Taos Mountain Yak
  • jerky milk bones for dogs – Taos Mountain Yak[link:
  • baguette – Cloud Cliff Bakery
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A Year Of Summer Tomato Inspiration

by | Sep 8, 2010
peaches

Peaches on Farm To Fork Tour

It is amazing to me that what I write here can have such a tremendous impact on people’s lives without me even knowing. I got an email from an old friend a few weeks ago telling me how much Summer Tomato has influenced her life over the past year, and I was so touched by her story I asked if she wouldn’t mind sharing it here to inspire others.

Virginia Griffey is an editor in Oakland. She spends her time running, snowboarding, cooking, and hanging out with her friends and dog, Pebbles. Virginia is currently training for her third marathon while trying to raise $1,500 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Donations of any size are greatly appreciated.

Follow her on Twitter @virginiagriffey.

A Year Of Summer Tomato Inspiration

by Virginia Griffey

A few months ago, while enjoying a delicious dinner I’d made of steak, roasted potatoes and chard, I realized just how effective Summer Tomato had been in helping me become a healthier person. I discovered Summer Tomato last October after getting in touch with Darya again over Facebook. I checked out her blog and immediately was hooked.

I’ve spent the past year developing my own healthstyle based on numerous tips from Darya. Now I weigh 22 pounds less, I feel a lot more energetic, I’m a better athlete and I’ve tried a bunch of new vegetables that I never would have thought to eat.

When I came across Summer Tomato, I’d been wanting to lose some weight for a while. I ran my first marathon in October 2008, and I gained five pounds while training. I hear a lot of people say they run so they can eat whatever they want, and that’s the way I had been thinking. Clearly, eating whatever I felt like didn’t work, regardless of how much exercise I was doing. It took my 150-pound body nearly seven hours to complete the marathon. I knew losing weight would make me faster and less likely to get injured.

I’d also been curious about eating and its effect on health. Another thing I hear a lot of people say: “I’m only going to live once, so why restrict what I eat and drink? I’d rather die a little younger and happier than live to an older age while not really enjoying life.” I think what many of these people don’t understand is that when you die younger because of diseases that often are tied to nutrition (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.), it’s not a quick death. It’s a slow, painful process of hospitalization, surgery, expensive medical bills, stress for you and your family, and the inability to do the things you once loved.

I know this from experience because I’ve had to deal with several kinds of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke in my own family. I’ve seen the attendant suffering, and it’s not something I want to go through as I get older, nor is it something I want my family to have to worry about.

The first thing Summer Tomato helped me change was the way I thought about eating healthfully. Diets are restrictive. People give up on diets or can’t maintain their weight loss, because of the restrictions. I don’t think about restricting myself. I think about what kinds of delicious foods I can add to my diet. I think about simple ways to integrate nutritious foods into what I’m already eating. For example, I’ve often turned to legumes and rice as a simple meal for eating at work. Instead of starting over from scratch, I began to add vegetables to the dish or bring a salad as well. Later, I started cooking new kinds of dishes that were based on vegetables.

Darya also has helped me understand the importance of meal planning. If I take the time on weekends to think about meals for the upcoming week and go grocery shopping, I’m set. Breakfast is usually steel-cut oatmeal with plain full-fat yogurt and fruit or muesli with yogurt and fruit. Lunch is usually a salad (greens, nuts, dried fruit, homemade vinaigrette and occasionally some cheese as a treat) and a one-pot meal like a soup or stew that I made myself over the weekend. Dinner can be a wide range of things depending on what groceries I’ve picked up. One of my favorites is fried eggs on top of chard.

There are plenty of things I need to work on: eating slowly, shopping more at farmers markets (Summer Tomato did inspire me to visit Oakland’s Grand Lake farmers market for the first time after living nearby for more than a year), avoiding the processed foods that beckon from around the office (they’re rarely as good as I think they’ll be), planning meals based around what I’ve bought rather than buying food based on meals I’ve planned. I have been making slow progress on these things, and that’s what is so great about the Summer Tomato Philosophy. It’s all about making gradual, small, permanent changes rather than doing a whole bunch at once and then going back to your old ways.

I’ve made so much progress in the past year. I weigh about 128 pounds, but I’m wearing clothes sizes that I wore when I weighed 110 in high school, so I know the weight lifting has built up lean muscle that’s keeping my metabolism up and giving me sexier arms and legs, and a thinner physique. I finished my second marathon about 40 minutes faster than my first, and I’m training for my third marathon now. I’m really enjoying what I’m eating, which is essential to eating healthfully. I’m cooking a lot more, and I’ve found great joy in cooking for myself–though it’s fun to impress my friends with amazing and simple dishes too.

Here are some more of the wonderful things Darya has brought to my life:

Delicious foods I’ve started eating: sardines, fennel, chard and fried eggs with smoked paprika.

Cooking tips: toasting nuts in the pan before adding the veggies and chiffonading basil and mint.

Exercise: weight training. I had been doing this consistently for a few months before I found Summer Tomato, but Darya’s discussion of its benefits has kept me committed.

NEAT: I wear a pedometer now, at least on weekdays. I know I get a lot of exercise on my own, but my goal is to make sure I’m not otherwise sedentary, so I don’t count my running. Things like giving my dog a long walk every day and walking up one floor to use the restroom at work go a long way.

Knowledge: I know a lot more now about how the foods I eat affect my health and how the industrial food system affects my health, public health and the environment. Darya has inspired me to go beyond what I read on Summer Tomato and pay more attention to food-related news. I even went on a Farm to Fork Tour a couple of weeks ago in Brentwood, where I learned more about local agriculture and sustainable farming–and ate delicious food!

Darya’s dedication to Summer Tomato has improved my health and my life. I’m not missing out on anything by choosing to eat nutritious food. I want to enjoy a long life of running, snowboarding, cooking and eating amazing meals, and spending time with family and friends. What I’ve learned on Summer Tomato is helping me do just that.

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