Hats, Mittens, and Veggies

5 Feb

I’ve always found the idea of farmer’s markets to be charming, but going to them to be impractical.  You have to haul yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn on a Saturday in order to get there before all the “good” stuff is taken.  Woe to the lazy cook who stays in bed an extra hour to get her beauty sleep, (or more likely in my case, sleep off after-effects from a good time out Friday night).  Great produce waits for no one!

Lately Jason and I have been trying to be more intentional about where we’re eating and drinking, and as a consequence we’re seeking out more locally produced food.  Not that local food wasn’t on our radar before, but lately we’ve become more curious about where what we eat comes from and how it’s handled before it gets to our plates.

So on a recent night we fired up the Netflix Instant Queue and watched a documentary we’ve been meaning to see for a while called Ingredients.  It’s a relatively short film (1 hour and 7 minutes), but its message resonated with both of us.  Farmers and chefs in Oregon are working to create a sustainable food system and increase consumers’ awareness of the benefits of local food and the costs of America’s current industrialized food model.  We found the film to be insightful and informative without coming across as preachy.  Two things stood out to us (other than why eating local so attractive): 1) Oregon looks awesome and we really want to visit, and 2) veggies grow in the winter! 

I’m not sure why we didn’t realize things grow in the winter.  Perhaps it’s because we both grew up in Florida where odd things like bananas and avocados grow year round in backyards.  Perhaps it’s because the local produce stand we typically patronize closes down during the cold months.  Perhaps it’s because a high of 40 degrees feels just so darn cold to us (again, it’s a Florida thing).  I’m not sure why, but it never crossed our minds that fresh things would grow even if it wasn’t 80 degrees out.

But here were the good people of Oregon, wearing their winter hats and mittens, buying up root vegetables and winter greens by the cart load.

A quick Internet search revealed that the closest Farmers’ Market  to us, in Matthews, was indeed open for two hours a week on Saturday mornings.  Everything sold at Matthews Farmers’ Market is produced within 50 miles of Matthews.   We committed to hauling ourselves out of bed, hung-over or not, to go buy our own seasonal root vegetables and greens.  We didn’t really have an idea of what we would do with them, but we decided could figure it out.

As luck would have it – it was raining and 50 degrees yesterday morning.  Chilly and uncomfortable, even though technically it was unseasonably warm for February.  Despite the inclement weather, there were long lines for vendors selling meat and poultry.   Dodging rain drops, we skipped the lines and went bravely toward the produce in search of new and exciting root vegetables.  We found rutabagas (my apologies for not getting the farm’s name, the rain started pouring and we dashed under the nearest tent we could find and missed the sign), and got some great tips on how they’re prepared.  Maybe a rutabaga doesn’t fit  the standard definition of excitement, but we’ve never eaten one and I haven’t been able to find anyone who’s ever eaten one.  This is uncharted vegetable territory for Ditch Chicken.  

We also picked up some miniature kale, miniature white turnips, swiss chard, mustard greens, goat cheese, stew beef and ground beef.  Perhaps the greatest discovery was that Baucom’s Best sells dog bones, which are apparently the perfect antidote to our dog Riley’s ADHD.  So Riley got to enjoy the local food as much as we did, and our cats got an evening off from being chased around the house by a crazy dog.

All in all, it was a great morning despite the weather.  Though we were chilled and soggy by the time we finished, we’re excited about cooking up these new and mysterious vegetables.  We’re also excited about going back next Saturday – I’ve checked the forecast and it appears that it will be colder but sunny.  Looks like we’ll be wearing our hats and mittens for our next round of vegetable buying!

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One Response to “Hats, Mittens, and Veggies”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. You Gotta Be Open for Us to Shop Local « Ditch Chicken – A Food & Drink Adventure - March 26, 2012

    […] intersection advertises “Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner.” So after an early morning trip to the Matthews Farmer’s Market, we remembered their sign advertising breakfast. We pulled in and found an empty parking lot, […]

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