Our Challenge: From Farm to Table
A “Farm to Table” Challenge Inspires Culinary Creativity
Recently, a fellow foodie friend and I embarked on an excursion to our local farmers’ market with a goal to create a portion of our dinner from our market finds. Some items were the main ingredient. Other items took a supporting role. Either way, not only did we end up with tasty dishes, we had great conversations about the ‘challenge’ throughout our evening.
While we enjoy the modern day conveniences of our local grocery and specialty stores, we find an appreciation for meals made with a bit more effort. That’s not to say that cooking everyday is not a challenge – and the effort appreciated. Today, however, we pushed ourselves to be a bit more flexible – and creative.
Our local “Good Neighbors” Farmers’ Market includes a variety of vendors – from vegetables to beef jerky to candles to artisan cheeses. A few food trucks are present offering a spot for lunch as you shop for your farm goods – and enjoy a petting zoo. All in our own back yard. Today’s vendor selection seemed a bit light – which increased our challenge. Thankfully, we found a good selection of fresh vegetables – including organic. Our friendly vege vendor was ready and willing to assist. I think most people know if they want a particular item or not. We, however, were a bit different. We had to scan the offerings, and then scan our brains to determine what to do with the veges available to us.
We visited multiple vendors – taking ‘inventory’ of our options. Almost immediately the ideas started to flow. What we thought were slim pickin’s ended up to be a bounty.
During our exploration, we engaged in conversations about the origin of the produce to gauge the quality of the product – was it organic, how far did it have to travel, was it in season locally? While I am not an expert on what’s in season, I love to learn.
Today, my fellow foodie fanatic had a pretty good idea of what she was going to make. I had some ideas, but we let the market guide us. We searched and searched and were open to making slight changes to the recipe ideas if we had to – based on what was available.
Local farmers markets often times include local companies selling their goods. In this case, a local bread company is conveniently bringing great breads to the market. It’s the ‘community market’ I wrote of previously (The New Farmers’ Market – Not Just a Place For Produce). I still love seeing the local entrepreneurs bringing their product to market – it just happens to start at a local community market.
It was a fun evening of talking about our finds and enjoying the fresh food. We complimented the finds with a seafood dish and a few pantry staples. Highlighted recipes coming soon – eggplant & feta appetizer, bacon jam and a citrus/radish ‘sashimi’ plate.
A few thoughts from the farm:
Be flexible – How incredibly lucky are we to live in a place where almost everything is at our finger tips. I love it. However, what I am trying to do is be a bit more flexible and let seasonality and local access guide my decisions. Why? 1) Variety – I try more things. 2) A peace of mind that I’m eating food that hasn’t traveled a lot to get to my table – my broccoli doesn’t need to have a massive carbon footprint by traveling thousands of miles, fewer miles reduces the chance of contamination. 3) I support an under-supported local economy.
When shopping at a farmers market, ask if it’s local. If not, focus on what is local and be creative. Force yourself to explore local, in season items a bit more. You’ll have a greater appreciation for the food we eat.
Compare prices – literally compare apples to apples and don’t get caught up in paying extra because you’re at the trendy farmers market. I’ve seen it and won’t play it. I will support our entrepreneurs but will not get caught up in paying double (for the same product) just because I’m at a farmers market.
An outlet for local entrepreneurs – I really enjoy conversations with the vendors at the market. A lot of the time it’s the same inspirational story about following their passions and taking their product to market. And, the farmers market is the first stop.
Now, try your own farm to table exercise. Enjoy!