One of our very favorite thing about summer is the fresh produce we get to shop for at our local farmers' market. We love taking it slow, winding up and down the aisles to inspect everything and getting totally inspired (and hungry!). Market shopping is also a prime chance to chat it up with the wonderful farmers who know our food better than anyone else. These five questions are a great place to start:
1. How should I cook this?
Go ahead, break out of your drab vegetable routine. The farmers' market is the perfect place to expose yourself to new veggies and get a little weird with it. Want to try to kohlrabi but not sure how? We bet your farmer has an idea! She's probably pickled, roasted and steamed every root and leaf at her stand, and can share plenty of recipes to mix up your summer staples.
2. How should I store this?
You're buying food in its prime, so you've got to store it correctly. Ask your farmer how to keep your vegetables fresh as long as possible, and if that means keeping them in the fridge or on the counter. Herbs can be especially tricky, so make sure to ask about those too.
3. What's the differences between multiple varieties of the same vegetable?
The best part about the farmers' market is finding produce varieties you'd never see in a grocery store. So what's the difference between an Asian eggplant and a Fairytale eggplant? A Brandywine tomato and a Purple Cherokee? We don't want to spoil the fun, so ask your farmer and welcome some new favorites into your kitchen.
4. Where's your farm?
We almost never get a direct relationship with the source of our food, so take advantage! How and what we eat is so important to our health, our community and our lives that developing a relationship with the people who grow food is definitely time well spent.
Here are a few thought-starts to get the conversation going:
- Where's your farm located?
- Can I visit?
- Do you have a CSA (community supported agriculture) program?
5. What's the best thing you've eaten this week?
Can't decide what to buy? The farmer behind the table has probably tasted everything there. They'll know what's right at its peak. Maybe the snap peas have just hit their crunchy perfection, or maybe it's the best week of the year to make tomato panzanella. Let your farmer guide you so you can fill your bag with the very best.