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Ah, the farmers market.  Fresh produce, nice people and endless discoveries.  Every year I look forward to that first sunday towards the end of June when the local vendors come to the train station and present their crops to the people.  And the second that fateful day comes around I’m there!

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This week I made it to the market just before closing time, (the best time to go!) so all the vendors were begging us to take their produce! And hey I don’t need any begging but I enjoyed the enthusiasm (as well as the discounts 🙂  So at a knick of the minute bargain a farmer threw in a second bag of fresh greens for free.

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These greens go by the name of Chicory.  The farmer advertised Chicory as being good for sautéing and salads.  Now I tried it as the base of a salad and honestly wouldn’t recommend it.  Chicory has a bit of a bite, not necessarily most fitting for a traditional salad. However, I’m sure that in a savory warm chicken and chicory sauté this green would stand up excellently.

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But the best part about the farmers market isn’t even the new interesting foods that you find but rather the fact that they were grown close to where you live.  They were picked recently and at their prime ripeness; instead of picked under ripe and stored in ethanol cabins and then transported 25497593000 miles to get to your local grocery store.  The locality is key!  First off, the produce was able to intake all the nutrients from the soil to fully mature, adding vitamins and minerals into your produce as well as great, full-bodied flavor.  And secondly it’s great for the environment!  No gas-guzzling trucks tearing up the interstates, no expensive planes or boats releasing toxins into our air and seas. It’s a no-brainer.

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The last point I want to bring up in my declaration of love towards farmers markets is the method in which the produce is harvested.  Believe it or not most tomatoes you find in the grocery store during the winter are picked by slaves.  And I’m not talking about international, no, this is happening here, in the US.  Florida’s tomato fields are named “ground zero” for modern day slavery in the US.  It’s abhorrent. And you can help to end it! If you sign this (https://secure3.convio.net/ijm/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=151) letter you are affectively pressuring companies to end their usage of slavery in tomato farming in the US.  To get more info on this topic read Cookie and Kate’s (my have food blog) article (http://cookieandkate.com/2012/stacked-tomato-summer-vegetable-and-grilled-bread-salad/) and check out Mark Bittman’s article in The New York Times called “The True Cost of Tomatoes” and read Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit. If you want to do more, check out IJM’s Recipe for Change for suggestions.

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Alright so here comes a list of all the wonderful items I purchased at the market this weekend.

  • Mesculin Mix (great for salads)
  • Chicory (sauté it with onions and garlic, then top it with goat cheese, raisins and walnuts)
  • White peaches (have a flowery sweet flavor)
  • Smoked Mozzarella (has a hammy charm, great melted on crisp french bread)
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
  • Jalapeno Nectarine Jam (“a best seller” says the jam man. Great for glazing chicken breasts with)
  • Pomegranate vanilla infused iced tea (it was a scorcher!)
  • Salted toffee (the perfect combination of salty and sweet)
  • Dog biscuits (homemade organic peanut butter and apple biscuits, can’t forget about the pooch!)

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Here is a link to find you local farmers market. http://farmersmarket.com/ So go out visit your local Farmers Market and explore! I will probably be there doing the same!

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