Scenes from the Red Bank Farmers Market

13 07 2010

One of the things I look forward to most in the summer months is the local farmers market.  There’s just nothing like spending a weekend morning choosing produce to create delicious meals for the week, especially when that produce was picked just days, or even hours, before.  My local farmers market, in Red Bank, has a large number of vendors and a huge weekly turnout.

Red Bank Farmers Market

You can get everything from spring onions to homemade pickles to vegan donuts – and that’s just scratching the surface.  For me, it’s all about the produce.  At the farmers market, there’s no need to assess what is seasonal.  What you see is what is growing now.  Buying seasonal produce that you haven’t seen or cooked with before is also a great way to get out of a cooking rut.  When you have a new ingredient sitting before you, you’re bound to get creative and make something new and different.  So why, besides personal satisfaction, should you patronize your local farmers market?

To Help The Environment

Some grocery stores have really improved their relationships with local farms, and now carry some local products.  However, you still find tons of products, many of which can be grown in your own backyard, shipped from all over.  By shopping at the farmers market, you can be sure far less gas is being used to get your food from farm to you.  Your food is fresher, and you’re helping to reduce unnecessary natural resource consumption.

To Boost The Local Economy

For communities to thrive, it’s important to have a healthy local economy.  The small farms that sell their goods at the farmers market are not huge profitable institutions, but they provide a valuable service to the local community.  By buying their products and supporting them directly, they are able to keep doing what they’re doing and make a living.  Keeping our dollars in our communities creates a stronger tie between us and our local farmers.  As the Garden State, it’s important that these farms are economically sustained.

To Get an Education

Ever wondered what to do with okra or rainbow chard?  Just ask!  Often, the farmers themselves will be at the farmers market, and no one knows the vegetables more intimately than him or her.  Take the time to ask how the vegetables are grown, or what their personal favorite way to prepare them is.  I know I’ve asked a number of times for growing tips for my own backyard garden, and the farmers are always happy to share their knowledge.

To Eat Food at Its Freshest

As mentioned before, produce at the farmers market doesn’t travel far to get to you.  This allows the fruit and vegetables to be at peak freshness when you buy them.  Since the farmers market doesn’t happen everyday, the produce isn’t sitting around in a bin for multiple days waiting for someone to take it, like it might at the regular grocery store.  It’s been harvested very recently, and is going to taste that much better.

Now for today’s haul: beets (with beautiful greens), yellow peaches, blueberries, tomatillos, red potatoes, and scallions.

Fresh produce

I’m already planning a few tasty dishes.  I’ll make a roasted beet and beet greens salad, a batch of bean and vegetable enchiladas smothered with a spicy tomatillo sauce, and a simple peach crisp.  I’ll be back later in the week with one of these recipes, so stay tuned!

A few Monmouth County Farmer’s Markets:

Red Bank Farmer’s Market: Sundays 9am-2pm, mid-May through mid-November, The Galleria parking lot, Red Bank

Asbury Park Farmer’s Market: Saturdays 8am-1pm, mid-June through late October, Main and Sunset Ave., Asbury Park

West End Farmer’s Market: Thursdays 11am-6pm, mid-June through mid-November, 139 Brighton Ave., Long Branch

Downtown Freehold Farmer’s Market: Fridays 11am-3pm, early July through mid-October, Hall of Records, Freehold

-Lauren

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4 responses

13 07 2010
Melissa Morris

Sounds like a fun trip, Lauren!

I’ve never cooked with tomatillos (not sure if I’ve ever even tasted them, actually!) but the “spicy tomatillo sauce” sounds good.

Looking forward to see which recipe you share!

~Melissa

13 07 2010
karen

What a well written and informative article! I look forward to reading your future blogs.

13 07 2010
billtacular

Great article, Lauren. I can’t wait to see some of those recipes – yum!

2 08 2010
Roasted Eggplant from the Princeton Farmers Market « New Jersey Outdoors

[…] Eggplant from the Princeton Farmers Market 2 08 2010 Lauren convinced me (with her post about the Red Bank Farm Market) that the best way to get out of my cooking rut this summer – or rather, my complicated […]

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