The Beauty of Farmers Market
When I started working for the farmers market, it completely changed the way I shop because I used to, you know, get my list and say what I want for dinner, you know, I'm gonna make sausages and sauteed peppers or whatever and go get my peppers and I didn't really think about is this the time of year to get peppers? And then I started working at the farmer's market and we'd go every day and just see all these vegetables and just kind of buy whatever vegetables look good and then get home and think, what am I going to do with this? On ben? The answer is is dumping star that's my favorite kind of cooking, chopping vegetables up you dump them in the pan, you stir them up and you eat it with rice e u to my house? Uh, but you know, sometimes I get a little fancier recipes but really just eat a lot of really fresh vegetables sauteed for a few minutes with pasta or rice and that's it so it completely changed the way I cooked, and then I've come back to cooking more with recipes, but really lo...
oking at, you know, what is in season and, you know, feeling that excitement of discovering something new or when things come back like I walked into by right two weeks ago and there were peaches and I just couldn't believe it, you know, I hadn't seen peaches and six months, it was really surprising and we're so lucky here in the bay area tohave of really good, robust seasonality in every season, it's not like we get tomatoes and then we get nothing for six months, which is true, and a lot of the country and a lot of more northern places where things don't grow as much, you know, in the window are really have tough decisions to make in the bay area. We're really lucky we have amazing things in the winter and the summer. So what would you what advice would you give somebody who is sort of in a place like that? Where, you know, the options are a lot more limited that's tough? I mean, one one option is to preserve some of your harvest and something that I do, I can tomatoes when I first got in really into food, I started like canning and pickling and doing all these different things and what I've sort of boiled it down to two things one is a precut jam because I love apricot jam, a precut stemcells, they're all right, but you put jam is so good it because air coming in the next couple weeks, I'm going to make a batch of jam, I'll have it all year round and the other thing is tomatoes I'll do in september all can a big batch of tomatoes, and then I'll have those amazing dry farm early girls from toma tero all throughout the year and even having one being like that that's fresh that reminds me of summer makes a really big difference in my cooking, even if I'm eating, you know, the winter season, vegetables or even if I'm eating out of season because that's what's available to me, I have that kind of touch of summer, and I can get that really good tomato flavor in the winter, even if I have to eat hot house to meet those because that's the only thing available. So one thing that I've heard from a lot of my readers, actually, who are really dedicated the stuff they live in places like minnesota, upstate, new york, where you think gosh, gosh, is gonna be hard mostly year if there's no farmers markets there's, nothing growing at all, but what a lot of the farmers and the psa is, which are sort of community sponsored agriculture, where you can subscribe to a specific farm and get their produce from them, and they'll sometimes delivered to your house or to a drop off place in your neighborhood and people will subscribe to the system during the summer, but the farms or clever and they'll actually see save some of their summer produce and freeze it for you so it's in like perfect preserved state you know frozen or canned or whatever and they will continue delivering it throughout the winter and you know these people are like they feel like they struck gold when they find the gsa's because they all you know everybody else is sort of eating california produce that's been shipped you are just suffering and needing a lot of vegetables at all and they've got this weekly supply of delicious like peppers and corn and zucchini in things from summer time and it's really cool so I think that's everything really innovative with how to solve these problems in other places in the primaries are also learning more how to extend their season it's with high tunnels and greenhouses and things that can help them grow longer into the winter but really I think it's better to eat vegetables than to not eat vegetables so if you buy them if you have to buy them from california or if you have to buy them from easy vegetables right and what about another big concern that people have around fresh produce is the price you know I hear all the time is like as almost this assumption that health is a luxury but only sort of you know, rich people on the west coast can eat and like the rest of us we can't eat like that we're doomed mcdonald's, but I know that, you know, have your advice on that, so I mean, out of season produce is going to be expensive, but what I find is really expensive is meat, and I was a vegetarian for a long time, and I started eating meat a little bit and it's just it's like sticker shock to me, I mean, a vegetable to three dollars a pound, you know, the most expensive vegetable or fruit right now is cherries, which are ten dollars a pound. They just came in in organic cherries, okay, ten dollars a pound, but meat is easily that much, if not more, and I find that, you know, reducing things that are really expensive, like meat and substituting with more vegetables or beings that are so much cheaper is a great way to save money. So I actually just to speak in that a little more, I tell people all this this all the time, so a tendency for somebody who's new to the farmer's market is they will walk in, and they'll be like, oh, this is beautiful, the low ground, and they'll they'll see somebody with a peaches cut up or cherries out, we'll have samples, and they come up in the taste of like, yes, this is delicious, but oh, my god ten dollars a pound like you've got to be kidding me I can't afford farmers markets and they leave, but what they don't see is right next to the cherries is the pile of zucchini ten for dollars you know are you know the cabbages song you're really about, like a giant cabbages like two bucks and it'll feed you know you get a feed me for meals and on and I think that there's this assumption that all of it's expensive when really fruit is expensive and actually there's a good reason for that yes no, I mean for especially organic fruit right now we love fruit but guess who also loves for everybody you know, great yeah bugs, bees, birds right? Everybody loves fruit so it's really hard for organic farmers to get their fruit all the way to the market without somebody else eating at first yeah and it's also a lot more delicate, right? And so the packaging writes a transporting a peach versus you know this guy just kind of thrown around is much more expensive we have fruit definitely more expensive the fruit you is not good for use vegetables and fruit is really it's a treat it's a wonderful treat, a delicious treat but you don't need it as much as you need that sols right now so that's why I treat shopping is food is fantastic and like when I find that perfect peach at the farmers right I mean like like the record screeches the world stops and I like b line over there to get it because it's this amazing being there on ly each fruit will only be in season for a few weeks out of the year and really there's only like one or two weeks or it's really really peak and really delicious andan those moments I'll make sure I will pay three dollars for this speech but it's it is an indulgence it's a tree whereas the veggies you know I can go to the store and buy like produce at these you know elitist california farms over whatever and I'll spend twenty bucks for the entire week to feed me and my husband that's really reasonable it's cheaper than then take any restaurant even mcdonald's and when when we're teaching when we talk a lot about budgeting and shopping and cooking matters classes and I want people to say ok where my now what am I buying now and how do I want to change when I'm buying now and start with those incremental changes start cooking more from scratch start eating more vegetables you know soaking your own beings eating some whole grains eating eating simpler foods instead of buying the broccoli that's already cut up in a bag which is guess what twice as expensive as broccoli that's hole right or the you know, the pieces the boneless, skinless chicken that's four times as expensive as a whole chicken, right? Start with the things that are less processed. Start making those changes instead of thinking oh, I'm eating frozen dinners now, but I know I should be eating organic peaches like those are not the choices, right? That's not what we're trying tio to teach it's more about making those incremental changes in adding one thing at a time, okay, I'm going tio so my beans are gonna cut up my whole chicken and I'm going to buy a bunch of collard greens and make a little bit more vegetables this week and then starting with those incremental steps and maybe you're after a couple of months realize, ok, I'm saving a lot of money doing this. How can I reorganize my food budget? And what do I want to prioritize what I wanted? Really make sure I'm buying organic, right? Or, you know, spending more money on maybe it's strawberries, right? Maybe strawberries or your favorite thing, you know that the conventional strawberries have a lot of pesticides, you want to buy organic strawberries, how can you make those changes slowly so you can afford things that are more of a luxury more of a treat and they, you know, are better for you, great points also, you guys have any questions about budgeting food habit on like meeting with good questions for sarah coming into thank you, thank you being with us there I think you've really, really interested are online audience it's been fascinating hearing and I actually love your enthusiasm about food testing was actually echoing a lot of what you're saying because one of the things you know, I moved to america when I was an adult, but the fact that there was like abundance you could actually get everything you wanted all the around and I actually hated that because to me I grew up with seasonal fruits and seasonal vegetables and I'm really glad that's kind of coming back not just my little right there but guess fifty eighty three saying, where would you find out about organizations like eighteen reasons in other areas of the u s so I know on the on the cooking matter side of what we do, there are a lot of food banks, especially that run nutrition, education, programming like cooking matters some of them even used the same curriculum that we use so food banks are really an interesting place to start in terms of education, and then there are cooking schools in different parts of the country and they're more and more popping up that are, you know, we consider ourselves to be what we call a community cooking school so we're not training professional chefs. They were just offering classes to anybody and even my own google searches. I found the chopping block in chicago, brooklyn kitchen in new york, there's, a chain in san diego, portland and seattle whose name I'm forgetting that it has a little cooking schools. Sir little and williams sonoma have cooking classes. Macy's has cooking classes there, a lot of places that have those cooking classes on, and then what we do that's a little difference. We have dinners, and we have a wine bar every thursday night. So those are things you may not find everywhere. But we we started through this grocery store by right market, wanting to provide venue for farmers and producers to meet the community. So if there's a great grocery store in your area or a farmer's market, you know, you might have even approach them and say, hey, what do you think about doing a dinner with your farmers? You know, putting something like that together, even if it only happens once or twice a year. It would give the community a chance to really connect with farmers because there's to me, there's nothing. Mohr impactful. And we're humbling about our food system that meeting a farmer who makes ten thousand dollars a year lives in a trailer like puts everything they have into their their farm which is their their life and when a farmer's loses their crop when they lose their april kokoro across because of hail they don't make any money that year and that is just incredible to me that you know with my job and my health insurance that a farmer could just lose everything they have so you know getting to know farmers through farmers markets and kind of putting those ideas out there I think be a great place to start they're also asking for a question do you recommend farmers markets as the best resource for finding what is in season in your local area or other other resource is you recommend as well farmers markets I think are a great way to learn what's in season and get those basics of you know goingto farmersmarkets a few times even if it's not where you shop every week you can get to know ok these you know their persimmons this weekend there weren't persimmons last week it's pretty stark where is it a grocery store there's a lot more you know produce coming in from different areas you know even a store like like by right market that's very seasonal will also sell bananas because people want bananas it's a grocery store where is that a farmer's market in california you can on ly sell produce grown in california that's not true in every state a lot of states you can buy and resell you khun have produced from other places here in california you can on ly grow and sell locally so farmers markets are a great place to learn but they're also a lot of online resource is for learning about seasonality local harvest other websites that have information about what's in season well, you know even if you get on your farmer's market newsletter they might send you out and use letter with what's in season two you get to know even without going to the farmer's market uh question from cookie monster who would really love to make tortillas from scratch? Can we use the dry masa flower to do that or is there a way to buy the flower with the lion it to make the nutrients more bio available talk maza flower that's meant to four chartreuse is already treated took it yes it's made from so the corn once it's been treated with lies called hominy it's those big old pieces of corn you can also make a soup corpus ole with those big old pieces of corn that's what happens to them when you treat them so you can actually rancho gordo sells it a lot of companies will say sell that hominy that's already been treated and you know you can grind it up yourself you can really go away happy thank you any questions you erica question are you going to talk about that later so you couldn't go for it yeah so like what are the general rules of thumb of refrigeration and not, um like generally and then even specifically I bought some strawberries last week from by right actually and they like they were looked a wonderful and great and then the next morning they were not doing too well and I left him out on the counter today it didn't you just write about those I don't know did I know I just read something about yeah fruit I generally keep out peaches, avocados, tomatoes especially tomatoes because they just don't his go once they've been in the fridge they get mealy strawberries air definitely a tough one because they will get moldy really fast and I'll stick them in the fridge if they look like they're not going to be good usually my boyfriend already eaten them by that point because they're sitting on the counter but you know if you know if you like wash and dry them and eat them right away but yeah if you are if you're buying a whole bunch to keep for the week it probably should go in the bridge one thing that I found to be a little bit helpful is if you put a paper towel or something in a container even I really like glass containers but even even a plastic container and as much of a single layer and you know they're not resting on each other because they wouldn't really ripe they smush right so if you can't do in a single layer and then just put the little on they tend to last a few more days in that situation but I mean fresh food is highly perishable that's one of the reasons it's so expensive no because those farmers have to deal with that too great well thank you sarah so much figure dropping knowledge bombs on us with food I think you like super excited about vegetables now or what I am it's seriously it's so exciting I love I love this you know I think to what j k o is saying you said you miss the seasons and that's where the excitement comes from is this scare city I hate having strawberries only around the taste of nothing when I was a kid in the nineteen twenty three theo you literally got stories for about three weeks of the year that was it and you so look forward to them and they taste of something amazing the same with april cots in the same with rats business that's completely gone from my life because you would walk into safe right now and need to have the weekend by strawberries right and their white in the middle of like one starting this must be read all the way through like why I yeah and it's and it's that that idea that like when you go for quality when you go for seasonal vegetables and fruit become really exciting again you know it's not just this boring thing your grandma is telling you to eat and you would rather be eating a cheeseburger you know it's way more exciting so I love it I love it so I'm going to I'm just a little quick recap about why I'm so excited about the farmers market I mean we we mostly went over this but it's really important remember the local and seasonal they're going to taste the best and they're also going to be the most affordable and you know and I love the sort of myth busting we did around the budgeting because it's vegetables are really not that expensive what I mean not that it's still not a luxury I mean you still have to have the knowledge how to cook them the time to cook them and I understand that that's a challenge for a lot of people I wish this was easier for all of us, but for the vast majority of us this is within our means a bunch of kale head of cabbage you know, a couple a couple of stocks of broccoli is not going to put you out eight more than ten fifteen dollars max max and that's like if you go to whole foods and not the farmer's market and by the way I did actually studies on this like I'm not just making this up so there was a study I think two years ago they came out and they were comparing the prices of food and particularly vegetables at farmers markets versus the grocery store and they were about the same prices for you know, for just for regular vegetables but when I would but and occasionally the farmer's market would be cheaper they kind of make sense that you're sort of cutting out the middle man but for organic produce, farm farmers markets were cheaper every single time and I actually from experience there's actually a big difference between the organic stuff that you're gonna get the grocery store and the organic stuff that you get at the farmer's market because inevitably there getting big sort of large industrial type organic farms for the market you know, for a big grocery store that has thousands of store outlets where is it the farmer's market it's going to be one farm and they're gonna have um you know, ah more specialized product is going to be a little it's going to be tastier, you know, even though they're both technically organic, so something to think about I'm a big big fan occasion notice from the farmers market was really what changed my life you know, when I started eating real food it was it was a trip to the farmer's market where actually this is this is where my site name comes from I uh in a strawberry season and I had just had this discovery where oh my gosh when I eat foods that are in season they taste amazing and it was strawberry season and I was really excited about these strawberries I saw it this farm and so I was like be lining over to the strawberries and you know, there's always people outside like with the cut up samples and they're like handing out little samples and I wasn't really paying attention because I was trying to go by the strawberries and a woman sort of takes a fork and stabs this red thing and sticks it like kind of out toward me now I'm not sure I'll take that had taken a public my mouth and keep walking toward the strawberries and I stop and I'm like it's really? Oh my gosh that's not a striver that's a tomato and it was so sweet that I actually for like a few seconds thought it might have actually been a strawberry which is crazy and when I had that moment I was like this tomato tastes nothing like that pink like grainy thing I normally got in my like cheeseburgers you know taste is nothing like the salad a big wedges that are hard that I would get in salads you know, when I was in high school from wherever I would be the weird salads it's just such a different experience and that's what happened like and so I decided to name my website summer tomato because and when it's seasonal and when it's fresh and right there for you to taste it's just it just completely changes your life and it changed my life it's amazing so go to your local farmer's market local harvest dot org's to find a farmers working here you um right and it now so there's also a you know we talk a lot about psychology in this course and one of the other major benefits of shopping at the farmer's market is you actually feel like a sense of camaraderie with the farmers like that she was a shameless broke down crying talking about these farmers that like are only making ten thousand dollars and their entire livelihood is dependent on the weather and when when I feel that about my food I I make better decisions not just for my own health but just to support these organizations you know just to feel like I'm doing my part to make sure that this type of quality stays around you know that I'm voting with my fork that I'm you know these people show up rain or shine you know I have gone to the farmers markets and had buckets of water dumped on my head in the rain from the tents like accidentally spill in my head and you know what motivates me on a cold saturday when I'd much rather stay bundled up in bed to get up put on my like rubber shoes and go to the market is because I want to show these guys that I care what they d'oh and that is so much more powerful, you know, we talk about the emotional inflection point, you know, wanting to be there and to be a part of this community is so much more powerful to make for mating make that actual better decision about my food then like, I want to be healthy, so I'm gonna go to the farmer's market, right? It's not about that anymore once you've had these experiences so there's a there's a there's, so many reasons and that you just feel like a bigger part of a community and it's really special. So I just wanted to give you guys a farmer's market cheap chic, some tips and tricks because I know you know, it's funny people could get a little intimidated by the farmers markets like I don't know to buy is always weird vegetables I've never seen before. And so I just wanted to give you some stuff just so that you know what to expect when you go and so you don't make any mistakes and feel sort of so feel silly for it, so I'm roll first role farmers markets bring cash uh, most farmers aren't exactly the most technologically savvy people on earth and they often almost never have got a card accepting and if there is ah examining farmer's market, chances are you're not going to be the only one who forgot cashin lines probably gonna be really long and I would hate for you to get all the way there and be frustrated by the long line and leave because you didn't bring cash, so always bring cash it's also really good, you know, bring a bag so you know when you sometimes they'll have those little biodegradable plastic bags plastic has actually not been outlawed in california farmers markets don't know if you know this, but sometimes we'll have those biodegradable plastic bags but you could only carry around so many of those at once and so it's a really smart to bring something a little bigger and I actually created a bag for that specific purpose. So this is a bad guy helped create with this company called quirky they're really ah, they're they're like a innovation like inventions if you have an idea for an invention and want to create it, you can go into quirky and they can help you make it a real product like this and I wanted what happened was I was going to the farmers won't get all the time I buy the bulk of my produce there but what was happening is that you know, I I just have a big sack and I'd fill it up with you know, cabbage and kale and all the stuff but then I wanted by a teacher I want to buy some tomatoes or some grapes and no matter how carefully I tried to like put it in the bag when they're ripe I would get home like with demolished tomatoes and they're not cheap heirloom tomatoes like they're like three, three fifty a pound and they're big and you get home you like told dollars tomatoes or smashed like this is a bummer you know? And so you have to sort of use them immediately on the night that had happened to me so many times that I wanted to create something a bag that would help me get my produce home safe so basically what this is is when I was a big compartment in here for your like bigger heavier sturdy items and then on the outside there's is a little more delicate containers of the islamics you know that you can sort of nestle a little peach in there or nestle you know something more delicate and then also there's these side compartments for you know your wallet or whatever else you need and so I'm gonna pull my best oprah impression right now and you get a bag and you get a bag and everybody gets a bag okay, so I brought my bottom my farmer's market back for all of you to encourage you to go shopping, get teo and and injury and I've actually had no casualties so far with any berries or or any other produce so thank you quirky awesome. So now you have no excuse to not go on saturday I'm gonna be there watching for all of you with your little matching bags all right thousand so enjoy and ah, another thing that's good to note about the farmers market now I am very guilty of this sometimes I won't lie saturdays or not the day I typically want to wake up really early in the ambitious however, if you can manage to get up and go a little earlier to the farmer's market, you are going to have the best selection, especially in the bay area. I mean, we've got some like farmers market like hawks, they live in this area some of the chefs, for instance and if there's something they know they want like for instance, I remember there was this I discovered once at one of the stands, this white pomegranate and I love pomegranates I grew up with a pomegranate tree and I just think they're delicious but they can really be tart sometimes and sometimes the seeds can be really tough, you know, depending on the time of year but one day I discovered that this farm had white pomegranates and they were so good there, they weren't really white, they were kind of pink, but they were so sweet and one of the benefits of them was the seas were really small, so you could just eat a big bunch of season. It was just like this explosion of happy pomegranate juice in your mouth, and I am, and I went back the next week to try to get him that week, I just randomly was there early when thank the next week, and I was there, like nine or nine thirty it's still pretty early, but they're like we sold out of those an hour ago, you know, because they were so popular that everybody descended and, like took them all really early, so for the best pickings for the best selection definitely come as early as you can later in the day they're going to be closing up, they're going to be sold out, you're gonna have not as much fun picking through it. I highly recommend one of the best things to experience when you're at the market is sampling right? Lots of free fruit and one thing that's really amazing is like two really, you know, like like louisa was saying earlier today. When you there's like a lot of different kinds of carrots or like during plum season, has anybody been in the farmer's market during plum season? Like how many varieties are there doesn't mean it's spectacular? They'll be like flavor king and flavored queen and flavor grenade and flavor explosion and like their amazing and, you know, some of the vendors will put out all the different ones for you to try and all the different kinds of peaches and it's really a, uh, it's one of the most fun experiences and then you can be absolutely certain the one you try that your favorite like that's worth the you know, the little bit of extra money that you're going to have to invest in getting a special piece of fruit or something like that don't forget to buy your favorite, you know, I don't want to be all, um, you know, that I definitely encourage you to explore and buy new things, but, you know, make sure you get some staples that you know how to cook that you know you like and that you know, when you are facing the dinner decision later later that week, you're going to know exactly what to do with that and they're going to be better and farmers market the broccoli, their taste better, the cabbage there taste better, everything taste better shop with your eyes and your nose so just because you you sort of think you want broccoli, sometimes the broccoli doesn't look as good as the cauliflower sometimes I'll see a piece of cauliflower and it was like, that is a beauty trust your instincts in those moments and get the cauliflower, you know, go home and find any recipe if you have tio but and and smells as well, like, if something if you walk by and like, I smell peaches, like, you know, turn around and go back and sample those because, you know, our our sense is no what's, right? Like, what looks good and it's the best thing to guide you along your shopping and it's more fun that way, you know, then you and then you were excited about going to cook. I try to make it a rule whenever I see something new. I mean, the point our I know most of the vegetables, but if I ever see something new, I always buy it because worst case scenario out a couple bucks, you know, like I said, vegetables are pretty cheap, but you might discover your new favorite food. You know, when you might discover something amazing, so I always encourage you, you know, not don't fill your basket with new things, because you might end up with nothing because it really that you really like, but, you know, I always try at least one new thing and learn to explore and it's really it's a great to expand your palate and just and not get bored along the way again go beyond fruit vegetables. We talked about that a lot already. Oh, sorry on and also don't forget that the farmers market has more than just fruits and veggies, you know, the meat you're going to find at the farmer's market is going to be, you know, from a small farm who doesn't have a big industrial thing going on, or the eggs or the cheese, or even the olive oils and things like that, you could get very, really special items. Andi, it doesn't necessarily stop at the at the produce produce stand. Yeah, eggs is I started researching some of the farms that were at the farmer's markets we were at, and it seems like they were able to have free range eggs or even pastured eggs, and they're much cheaper than you would get at the grocery store. Yeah, pastor eggs at the grocery store are like ten dollars, into particulars for a dozen, but you're right, you can go to the farmer's market and get him for a fraction of the price and when you get a fresh egg like that I mean it is spectacular I mean the yolk just has a completely different smell a completely different flavor so worth it great point and the very last point I want to make two last points and one is don't try to negotiate I feel like sometimes people confuse in their heads that like it's not a flea market just the farmers don't make very much money just pay what they're asking I mean, if you're buying a huge bulk of stuff, they'll probably offer a little bit of a discount but for the most part if you're just shopping for yourself don't don't try to haggle heckle hagel had was the word haggle don't do that and then don't bring your pets it was not in california they're not allowed by state law so and I just want to wrap up with this quote by joel salatin do you guys know who joel salatin is? He's an amazing farmer he was featured in the omnivore's dilemma as the farmer who does the egg mobile and has his the most sustainable beautiful farm ever he is a fantastic book called folks the state normal highly highly recommended but I found this quote from him that you your goal should be to know your food no your farmers and know your way around the kitchen you know and if you can do those things, you're your journey to health you're so close, you know, that gets you so much of the way there. And, you know, you don't have to worry about things like calories and carbs. When when this is how you approach your food.