Today’s guest article is contributed by Open Hand Atlanta/Good Measure Meals intern, Claudia Utesch. Claudia is a senior in the Didactic program at Georgia State University. She currently holds the position as student gardener in the Nutrition Student Network at State and works as a supervisor at the Georgia State Recreation Center.
Often when people think of farmer’s markets, they think of springtime. Fresh produce and new growth after dormant winters, and all.
But, weather pending, high season for farmer’s markets is actually during July/August, when produce is catapulting from the ground in epic proportions after weeks of careful planning, growing, and harvesting. Maybe you haven’t been to a farmer’s market yet in 2014, maybe you haven’t been since the spring, or maybe there are ones you haven’t tried out yet. Either way, the time is now to hit the markets – especially if you only use Good Measure Meals for 1 or 2 meals per day!
However, while farmer’s markets are new and exciting places to shop for ingredients, they can also be a little daunting. There is a variety of produce available to shoppers, but where to start and what to buy can leave a shopper discouraged. Follow these steps to make your late summer trip to the farmer’s market a success.
Know what is in Season
Before heading to the farmer’s market, understand which fruits and vegetables are in season. Since most the produce is local, the season will strongly impact what you see as you search for ingredients. Here is a link that shows which months will bring specific fruits and vegetables.
Find a Location near You
Don’t know where to find a farmer’s market? It can be challenging to find one you enjoy that is close by. Luckily, the Atlanta area has many options, and there are a couple websites that can direct you to the closest one. Try out a couple different locations to get a feel of what you like in a farmer’s market. Here is a link of some markets in your area.
Go with recipes in mind. Since farmer’s markets are not laid out like grocery stores, it can be difficult to know exactly what you need. Try to find recipes that include a lot of produce and make sure to stock up. There are a variety of fruits and vegetables so try and get all you or your family needs for the week. If you are in need of ideas, try tomato basil skewers as healthy snacks for your next summer BBQ.
**Tip: At farm stand farmers markets with farmers present, ask the farmer how best to store the produce you purchase for maximum/prolonged freshness. Not everything needs to go in the refrigerator, and many things should be stored specifically in plastic or paper. Your farmer should have good tips so that your food doesn’t spoil before you get to it.**
Try Something Different
Have you ever gone to the store and noticed a fruit or vegetable that you are not familiar with? Unknown produce often looks way more complicated than it actually is, and it can seem daunting as a waste of precious time in the kitchen compared to tried and true recipes. But trying a new vegetable or fruit could ultimately open up your list of recipes and mealtime variety, not to mention your taste buds. Start by picking up one different fruit or vegetable, and incorporate it into your salad, sandwich, stir-fry, veggie roast, etc. You never know until you try it! Here are some examples of exotic produce worth testing in your home kitchen: tomatillo, star fruit, young coconuts, Dragon Fruit, Kumquat, or even a Pummelo.
Ask the Farmer
If you are unsure about what an item is or how to cook it, do not be afraid to ask the seller. Farmer’s markets can have a lot of local farmers who are happy to show people how to use their products in the tastiest ways possible. Asking for new recipes or ways to cook produce can be an exciting activity for you and the family!