To the Market - FamilyEducation

To the Market

May 28,2009
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

Now that the Farmer's Market season is upon us (well "upon us" to those of us in more northern climates; some of you lucky ducks in the south have year round markets), I wanted to share a few websites to help guide you to your local market. Local harvest.org is my favorite all-around local foods site. It not only lists farmer's markets, it has links to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), as well as links to certain farms that actually sell food and other farm products online. Looking for a specialty item like heirloom tomato seeds or pure essential lavender oil? Localharvest.org can help you in your search. One last note: be sure to check out the ratings of certain markets and CSAs. The reader comments can be really helpful in targeting your search. The USDA Agricultural Marketing site offers comprehensive farmer's market information. It features a search tool for markets and farms, but if you are a numbers person, it also storehouses information and data on the popularity of farmer's markets and even offers resources if you are interested in beginning a farmer's market yourself. Lastly, I have to share a quick story about why I believe the Natural Resources Defense Council Website is a great tool too. A week ago, while driving to a farmer's market near my in-law's home, we passed a woman who had set up shop in a little rural town, with a pick up truck and a sign that said "Fresh Produce." We eyed her stand, but then realized her "fresh produce" consisted of tomatoes,green peppers, onions and squash, none of which was in season. My mother-in-law noted, "Oh, yes, she is there all summer long. She certainly has fresh produce, fresh from the local Food Lion!" NRDC's site offers a search engine to help you know what to expect at your local farmer's markets before you leave your home. This site helps me in two ways: first, to assist in knowing what produce is legitimately in season so you will know what legitimate stands and markets should be carrying. And second, to help plan what you might be able to find in season for your meal planning. With the help of these sites, your family will be ready to dive into the wonderful world of locally grown foods. SPC