All over the world farm markets have always supplied us with fresh, locally grown produce. In most of the United States, farm stands open in late spring and early summer, selling whatever is growing in the fields at the time. These local outlets differ from large farmer's markets where produce may be trucked in from far away. What we are looking for today are fruits and vegetables that grow where we live. The offerings vary from region to region, and you are sure to find the freshest and the best, grown with pride.
I'm fortunate to live close to Lancaster County, PA, and some of the best farmland in the country. Most communities in this area have small weekly grower's markets, where you can buy directly from the people who grew the food.
I have a strategy for shopping, because when one is surrounded by beautiful temptations it's easy to over-buy. Here are my tips.
- Take a quick walk through the entire market and decide what you need.
- Look at the quality first and the price second. One vendor might have the best-looking sweet corn and another the most beautiful red radishes. Decide what you will buy from each one. When you have seen everything, go back and begin shopping.
- Bring your own shopping bags. Not only are they better for the environment, but they are also easier to carry than multiple plastic bags.
- Keep a cooler in your trunk with some ice packs so that you can take early purchases back to the car without worrying about spoilage and wilting in the heat.
Today's recipes use produce typical of that offered by farm markets - enjoy!
- Watermelon Salad - Choose a sweet, fresh watermelon, and make this refreshing summer salad that combines sweet and savory elements. Balsamic vinegar and onion make it tangy and the addition of mint keeps it cool.
- Carrot Souffle - A new way to enjoy the goodness of carrots. Get your daily requirement of vitamin A from this light dish.
- Oven Fried Onion Rings - Buy the freshest onions you can find to make this crunchy delight. It's low in calories, but packed with savory flavor.