Spring is in the air! What better way to enjoy the warmer weather than to stroll through your local farmers' market? This month, we're especially excited about cherries, peas and asparagus in season. Here are 4 reasons we love our farmers' markets:
- Fresh & Seasonal - The fruits and vegetables are grown in California (within a few hours of the market!) and often harvested just days before you buy and enjoy them. When you buy produce at the grocery store, sometimes you're buying produce grown continents away, which takes time and natural resources to ship. Here's a great guide to eating seasonally, from the Contra Costa Farmers' Market Association and this "What's in Season in CA" guide from California Grown.
- Less packaging - You (or vendor staff, depending on COVID protocols at your market) can pick out exactly what you want in quantities that are manageable for you and your family. Most markets let you bring your own bags to reduce single-use plastic and unnecessary packaginig. Some vendors will even take back egg cartons and berry baskets to reuse - doesn't hurt to ask!
- Unusual or "new-to-me" varieties - Romanesco? Arugula? Watercress? The market is full of unique foods that may not be common at conventional stores. A quick search online can provide cooking tips and recipes for ingredients that you are trying for the first time. Farmers' markets often have a few cooked or prepared food and drink stalls as well.
- Supporting small and local farms and vendors - You can talk to the farms and ask questions! Organic vs. pesiticide-free? What's the best way to store berries at home? Where do they bake their croissants? How do they catch their fish or raise their livestock?
Here are two great recipes showcasing seasonal spring ingredients you can find at the farmers' market:
Can't find some of the vegetables? No problem - just double up on what's available!
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (or DIY buttermilk!)
- 8 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Salt & pepper
- 1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1.5" pieces
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 6 oz. sugar snap peas, trimmed, thinly sliced (~2 cups)
- 2 x 1"-thick slices round country-style bread
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, sliced into 2" pieces
- 1 cup packed tender herb leaves with tender stems (dill, mint, basil, and/or parsely)
- 4 oz feta
Follow the instructions here from Bon Appetit - shared by Diablo Valley Farmers Market (Saturday Walnut Creek Shadelands market)
- 1 bunch rainbow chard
- 1 pint strawberries
- 1/2 cup strawberries
- 2 Tbs strawberry jam
- 2 Tbs olive oil (use less to start and add as needed)
- 1 Tbs dried basil
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley
- A few dried or fresh basil leaves
- 2 Tbs vinegar
Follow the instructions here!
Shared by the Pacifc Coast Farmers' Market Association, which runs markets all over the Bay Area, including Concord (Tuesdays 9 - 2 pm), Brentwood (Saturdays 8 - 12 noon), Danville (Sat 9 - 1 pm), Pinole (Sat 9 - 1 pm), Martinez (Sun 9 - 2 pm), and more.
Also check out the Contra Costa Certified Farmers’ Market website for information about markets in downtown Walnut Creek and Orinda.
Happy spring shopping and eating at your local farmers' market! And don't forget that Buy Local, Buy Organic is an action you can register on the Cleaner Contra Costa Challenge and get 600 points!
Not sure what the Challenge is all about? Get inspired and take action! Visit CleanerContraCosta.org to set up your profile, calculate your carbon footprint, find local resources, and track your individual and community’s progress.