Thursday, July 3, 2008

Supporting Local Farmers By Buying Local Produce

Summer has been a GREAT season for fresh local fruits and vegetables!

We've been buying lots of local produce, which is not only tastier, but cheaper and healthier. Choosing local foods also supports small farmers who take better care of the land, who often grow many varieties of crops, and who often use organic sustainable farming techniques.

We recently received "The Green Book", by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas Kostigen, and "Green Chic - Saving the Earth in Style", by Christie Matheson. Both recommend eating local foods and buying from farmers' markets.

Both point out that it takes roughly 1500 miles for supermarket food to reach your plate, compared to 50 miles for local produce. Much more energy and resources are used to produce conventional food versus local food; Christie says that 32 times more energy is used and 32 times more CO2 is emitted with conventional food. In addition, local food is more nutritious, because it's picked when ripe, and eaten soon after, versus food from supermarkets that sit for days, maybe a week, before it's transported to the stores. (These are just some of the reasons to buy local - we suggest reading more about eating local foods and being "green".)

A great motivator to buy local foods, is trying new foods! There are so many varieties of fruits and vegetables that you can find at the farmers' markets. Here are some local foods we've eaten this summer:

  • Heirloom tomatoes of different sizes and colors (yellow, orange, purple!)
  • peppers
    • bell, banana, jalapeƱo, and one we don't know what kind it is - it's yellow with a "spin top" shape
  • eggplant (small purple-and-white stripped)
  • fresh figs!
    • yes fresh figs! First time to try these, and they were delicious, sweet, and addicting.
  • Texas peaches and corn
  • squash
    • zucchini, yellow, white, and sunburst
  • sugar snap peas
  • melon!
    • "jade" watermelon that was the best juiciest sweetest organic watermelon we've ever had! Very huge too.
    • also "sugar not" melon that was a cross between a cantelope and a honey dew with a slight cucumber/kiwi taste and that was soo sweet and juicy!
    • BTW - the melons came from Holistic Gardens of Texas A&M and there were about 20 more varieties of melons that they produced, and they wanted customer feedback!

And here are some tasty ways we used our great produce!

Roasted Veggies - eggplant, red bell pepper, tomatoes, and yellow squash with herbs - and served with couscous.

Garbanzo Snap Pea Quinoa Bowl ... garbanzos, snap peas, quinoa, green bell peppers, garlic, diced carrots, and a curry dressing.

Our first RAW meal! Lasagna with Zucchini "Noodles", a Spinach Basil Cashew filling, and Fresh Tomato Sauce! We are going to try to make a raw meal once a week. So far, it's been a great experience.

- We adapted Carmella's recipe from The Sunny Raw Kitchen. Lasagna usually takes so long to prep AND cook, but with this recipe, it only took long to prep, and then it was done!

Raw Spinach Zucchini Lasagna

Spinach Basil Filling:
1 cup cashews, soaked (for maybe 3-4 hours?)
1/2 cup water
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
3-4 cups fresh spinach
3/4 th of small pack of fresh basil (2 Tb?)

Grind nuts and garlic until fine. Then add other ingredients until creamy.

Tomato Sauce:
3-4 large tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup diced onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
rest of the pack of fresh basil

Blend in a food processor until slightly smooth, slightly chunky.

2 large peeled zucchini, sliced thinly lengthwise

Using 1/2 of zucchini, make a layer in the bottom of a pan. Spread 1/2 of the spinach filling over the zucchini. Then add the remaining zucchini to make another layer. Spread the remaining spinach filling, and then top with the tomato sauce. Add a little nutritional yeast and black pepper to taste. Cut and serve!

Here's a photo of the cream filling and then a photo showing some of the layering.

... And you'll just have to wait to see what concoction we create with the watermelon! :)

To end this post, we hope that you will buy more local food. We as consumers need to support local family farms, buying directly from the farmers. Go to a farmers' market, or even better, grow your own food. You can also participate in the Community Supportive Agriculture program (CSA) if available, for which you pay in advance for a weekly amount of fresh produce.

See you at the next Farmers' Market! LK


Paulina said...

I've been dying to visit a farmers market! My parents don't seem at all interested, so I guess I'm just gonna have to wait until I have my own car and license. The raw lasagna you made sounds enticing! I made raw pasta the other day using zucchini and it was pretty good!

P.S. Have you checked out Rawleen's recipe for Watermelon Mini Cake Delights? They look so cute and good!

Anonymous said...

I soo want to go to a farmers market! My mom has been looking for one since we moved and we just have to decide which one. I think fresh fruit and veggies that are in season are so delicious!

Allison said...

What beautiful pictures! The quinoa bowl looks so colorful and divine...right up my alley. A small farmers market just opened right down the street from my house, so I'm really excited!

Theresa said...

I love going to the market every sunday and picking up fresh, local fruit and veg!

Happy Herbivore! said...

I am such a huge fan of the farmers market! I have really gotten to know all of the farmers and their produce at our local market... they're always telling me whats going to be ready next... Before I started working on the cookbook I used to buy what I liked at the market on Sunday and cook around those fresh ingredients all week. I'm spoiled living in SoCal. What isn't grown locally is grown in neighboring Mexico or upstate CA -- i.e grapes.... nothing beats staying local! I perfer the farmers market over any grocery, even whole foods!

and look at how beautiful everything came out - all that color! and freshness!

jessy said...

i love supporting local farmers! look at all the amazing tasty looking veggies you got! and those figs are making me jealousface! i can't wait to hit up my farmer's market this weekend, too! hooooooray!

Lauren said...

thanks for the comment on the bread, it was quite delicious!
and i love summertime to get local farmers market produce! not to always tastes so much better than store bought! :)

Katy said...

I love buying local! Fresh fruits and veggies just taste better. Thanks for the reminder!

aTxVegn said...

Your raw lasagna looks really great! I've been enjoying my farmers market and especially the peaches and tomatoes.