Sunday, March 13, 2011

Shop Local

Submitted by Michelle
Spring has sprung in La Quinta and this morning I headed to my local farmer's market bright and early. The fruit and produce were bountiful and I found so many great things that I just had to share them with you!
Starting with the eggs and working counter clockwise: amazing eggs, yellow cherry tomatoes, yellow and red onions, blackberries and raspberries, ginormous celery, several heads of lettuce, radishes, blood orange juice, fuji apples, cucumber, avocados and a bright red pepper.

I was almost giddy when I left the market. I'm not sure what I will create with my purchases but I know I'll be eating well this week and it will not only taste good, it will be good for me.

Part of the joy I get from shopping locally is having a relationship of sorts with the people who grow my food. For instance, there's the man who, armed with a head lamp, picks my lettuce at 2:00 AM on the morning of the market so that it is ultra fresh. He's what my friend Jennifer (a.k.a. Cubby) would call a tree hugger. Kind of a hippy of sorts. Or the citrus fruit guy who always has a quart of blood orange juice waiting for me. He knows what I like and is happy to cater to my wants. It's nice knowing where my food comes from and who is growing it. And it is nice knowing I am supporting a person or persons, rather than just a big name company.

Today I had a great conversation with the man who sells eggs from his chickens and soap made from the milk of his goats. I gushed about the flavor of his chickens eggs and the size and color of the yolks. And he talked to me about turkey eggs and even gave me one to try.
Can you guess which one is the turkey egg?

And, when I was purchasing my yellow cherry tomatoes the women selling them gave me great advice about when I should be planting tomatoes in my garden. I always considered them a summer crop but here in the desert, the tomato flowers cannot survive in temperatures over 100 degrees. This was so helpful since my next stop was the plant stand where I planned to buy herbs and a few tomato plants. Equipped with her knowledge, I bought summer squash seedlings instead of tomato seedlings.
Back row: crookneck squash, Italian oregano and basil.
Front row: patty pan squash, chives and more basil.

I can't wait to get them in the garden. Right now I have some wonderful radicchio and lettuce growing.
So often I have conversations with people about organically grown food and they complain about the higher prices. I've always wondered why people are willing to pay exorbitant amounts of money to watch a sporting event or drive a luxury car but aren't willing to pay reasonable prices for food that is going to fuel their bodies? My grandma Jilda always said "you get what you pay for" and when it comes to food, I will gladly pay a little more to know it where it came from and how it was grown.

March 20 marks the first day of spring. Do your body a favor and find a Farmer's Market in your neighborhood. I bet there is one closer than you think.

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