Friday, February 27, 2009

April 11!!!

Hello, dear reader! Well, this morning I was thinking about the Lexington Farmer's Market (their website is HERE). I miss the farmer's market, though there is a small winter presence in the atrium at Victorian Square on Saturday mornings, I didn't realize that until I read it on their website this morning doing research for this post! Let's be honest, until the LFM can get a PERMANENT Downtown space and community SUPPORT it will be a fair weather outdoor market in the high season for the foreseeable future.

Since moving back home, I have tried to eat more locally and ethically (and luckily, Lexington, KY does have more opportunities for this than most Southern Cities--Nashville was pathetic on this score I'm sorry to say).

When starting out trying to eat locally, you have to change a few of your preconceptions about how you eat. Now, I'm not a purist by any stretch of the imagination!!! I want to move in stages toward local eating and not try one of those "live local for a year" challenges because I'd just set myself up for failure.

1. You have to bring your own shopping bags--well, most stands do have some old kroger/walmart/target bags they can offer you (since so many Americans are WTF when visiting a farmer's market for the first time), but its a good idea to get in the habit of bringing your own bags out shopping wherever you get your groceries, plus you can express yourself on $1 canvas bags (just think about adding some iron on stickers or using puff paint) or buy them from worthy causes (like the public library often has canvas bags for sale).

2. You need to bring cash--once again, some stands take checks and even a few might take plastic, but its really much more convenient for the farmers if you pay in cash. This can also keep you in budget better!

3. You have to go to the Farmer's Market when its open, in Lexington that means Saturday mornings Downtown or Sunday Mid-morning/Afternoon on Southland. Considering that many grocery stores are open 24/7, this can take getting used to--I don't mean to patronize my readers with this statement. I'm serious! It is a mental shift that reminds us that farmers represent people who work their land and who have all the commitments of family (and often a second or third job) whereas grocery stores represent the collective action of a corporate body that is able to staff and distribute produce brought from Mexico or New Zealand through a vast network stores, chains, distribution centers, etc. Its a very different business model (and the corporate costs are often hidden by the subsidies that our government provides that supports large factory farms over the small scale family farm).

4. Instead of planning your menu for the week and then going to the grocery store to get those specific items, when you are a Farmer's Market shopper, you often need to see what is in season, what looks good, and then try to develop your meal plan for the week while your shopping or just trust that you can make it all work for you. Alice Waters, (visit her restaurant's website here) recommends this type of menu planning and she's able to do it for TWO restaurants--Chez Panisse and the Chez Panisse Cafe--so certainly I, a single person, or even a person with an average sized family could try this technique at least for a couple weeks to see if he/she/they could pull it off.

5. Be prepared to make fruits and vegtables the center of your plate, with grains, breads, meats, poultry, fish (in KY we even have shrimp farmers), cheeses, eggs, dairy, etc. available in bounty as well, you need not go totally vegetarian or vegan, but your focus will probably shift toward the fruits/veggies and you will pair the proteins and grains with the produce rather than the other way around.

6. You can integrate your exercise plan with the farmer's market lifestyle--for example, if you live near downtown, you could walk or bike there and get rolling baskets or attach a basket/panniers to your bike. Unfortunately, I do not live close enough to downtown to do this myself and Lexington has a long way to go in terms of making the city more bike/walkable. Even if you do have to drive to go to a Farmer's Market near you, try to park at a distance and give a walk through of the total Farmer's Market before making your purchases. This will give you more time to think of possible menus/dishes, you can enjoy the energy of the market (and maybe a street musician or two), and you will be sure to try out a variety of stands (I like to try to buy from different stands throughout the season, so that I'm able to support a broder demographic of farms. Though, if one farm always has something I love, like Green Zebra Tomatoes or Purple Podded Snap Beans I'll stop by their stands more often :)

So, my local Farmer's Market starts up April 11th and I can't wait. I do have more plans for extending my local eating this season, so I'll update you as the plans come together.

No comments:

Post a Comment