I always loved the idea of farmer’s markets. I love supporting local business in every capacity and knowing where my food comes from, and I also love the social aspect of watching people mill about, browsing the stalls devoted to produce, spices, prepared foods and local crafts. I really enjoy the fuzzy feeling of being “connected” to my community.
But despite all my talk, for years I have continued to walk the aisles of a big grocery store for my weekly haul. It always seemed more convenient and less expensive, and it was tough to find a farmer’s market with hours I could get to. Forever a farmer’s market rookie, I always either under and over-bought, only to end up frustrated with an empty fridge too early in the week or too much produce gone bad. Oh, the guilt.
Until I discovered Community Supported Agriculture from Farmer Dave’s. With a one-time fee at the beginning of the season, I receive a “share” of crops for 19 weeks during the summer and early fall, working out to under $20 a week. I pick my pre-boxed up at the Farmer Dave’s stand on East Street right here in Tewksbury, and every week I’m flooded with gratitude at how easy it is to get a refrigerator full fresh, local produce.
The fun part is, I never really know what I’m getting. During my grocery trips, I always bought the same lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and frozen broccoli. The monotony was making mealtime feel kind of lame, and I would often eat out instead of cooking to get some adventure on my plate (way more pricey and inconvenient than a trip to a farmer’s market). With my CSA share, every week is like “Top Chef” with surprise ingredients that require creativity as my major cooking tool. At first, it was strange working Swiss chard, garlic scapes, and beets into my repertoire, but now I love Googling recipes for inspiration and putting my own twist on each dish.
Take this dish for example: I had roasted my beets, but felt really guilty throwing the long, luscious beet greens and stems away. After a quick Google search, I found out you can eat them (yay!) and I sauteed them with the Swiss chard, chopped garlic scapes with BACON (uncured and applewood-smoked). Serve with the serve with the roasted beets for a top-notch meal for a true farm-to-table effect (just think of all the hashtags!).
I highly recommend trying this recipe on your own. Not only is it delicious, but you’ll feel really good about yourself in a “I used the whole deer” kind of way that will leave you feeling resourceful, confident, and empowered enough to tread outside the aisle of your supermarket and over to your local farmer’s market.
Here are a few more benefits to eating locally:
- Using the power of your dollar to support local farmers also keeps huge corporate food companies from getting all the
- You can meet the people who actually handled your food
- Local companies like Farmer Dave’s support youth programs that teach urban kids and college students the importance of agriculture in society.
- Your produce wasn’t shipped internationally or across the country, meaning a better shelf life, and your veggies won’t be injected or sprayed with chemicals to prevent rotting en route.
- It will taste better. Trust me.
For more information about Community Supported Agriculture, check outwww.farmerdaves.net.