Archive: Farmers Markets

Farm-to-Hospital

Today I’m dishing up a feel-good story. While poring through a review copy of EatingWell in Season: The Farmers’ Market Cookbook (the source of that great spinach soup from a few weeks ago), I learned about Dr. Preston Maring, who penned the introduction. Dr. Preston Maring checking out the goods at KP farm market in Oakland, Calif. (Photo courtesy Kaiser Permanente) Maring is an ob/gyn, who’s been practicing at the Kaiser Permanente (KP) medical center in Oakland, Calif. since 1971. These days, he wears a few other hats -- as Associate Physician-in-Chief --- and farm-to-table champion. In 2003, Maring started up a farmers’ market in the hospital parking lot, making it the first of its kind. Held year-round every Friday, Maring’s market, which is run in partnership with a northern California farmers’ market association, is completely organic. It has helped to spawn markets at 29 other KP hospitals throughout California,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 11, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

What's Your Favorite Farm Market?

That’s what the American Farmland Trust wants to know. Beginning June 1, members of the farm-marketing public are invited to cast their votes in the “America’s Favorite Farmers Markets” contest, a first for the organization. KOD at Arlington Courthouse Market, Arlington, Va. (Forrest Pritchard) The online ballot, available here, will be searchable by zip code, but will only include markets that officially register with AFT. Translation: If you want your local farm market on the ballot, you’ll need to bug the market manager to sign up. And if all farm markets sign up, the ballot will be enormous. As of last year, there are 4,685 markets nationwide, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), an increase of 6.8 percent since 2006. With so many markets to choose from, how can a farm market lover pick just one? Huckleberries at Clark Fork River Market, Missoula,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 21, 2009; 07:50 AM ET | Comments (13)

Cook's Grab Bag: Year of the Rat, CSA Sign-Up, Spinach Salad

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Today is the beginning of the year 4706 on the Lunar Calendar. It is the year of the Rat - and if you were born in 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984 or 1996, this is your year, kid. The first sign of the Chinese zodiac (in the Western zodiac, it's Aries), the Rat is characterized as industrious and ambitious, a sing that is willing to take risks. It signifies new beginnings, so this would be a good year to put long-stewing plans into action. Over the past several years, I've consulted cookbook author Grace Young ("Breath of a Wok") for guidance on how to commemorate Lunar New Year at the stove. As she explained in an online chat with me a few years ago, the Chinese prepare foods that symbolize good health, prosperity and fortune and strength on the domestic/family front. I didn't get my act...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 7, 2008; 10:44 AM ET | Comments (8)

What to Do With a Box of Romas? Slow Roast'em

I was at the farmers' market, but I felt like I was at Bingo night with a winning card or at a half-price shoe sale. SCORE! It was Sunday morning, and Mister MA and I had rolled out of bed for our weekly ritual at Columbia Pike farm market. While he sipped on coffee and chatted with the farmers, I filled our bags with chard, celeriac, lamb chops, a loaf of bread and mustardy greens. My tomato bounty. (Kim O'Donnel) As I walked past the Toigo Orchards stand, I noticed something different from the usual set up of apples, pears and peaches. Perched behind the two guys working the stand was a huge box of Roma tomatoes, its inside lid functioning as a sign, which read: "10$ the box." My heart began to race. Oh man, the things I could do with that many tomatoes, I thought. I motioned to...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 3, 2007; 11:23 AM ET | Comments (18)

How Far Does $20 Go at the Farm Market?

It's National Farmers Market Week, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The big guy, Secretary Mike Johanns, even signed a proclamation for the occasion, giving an official high-five to farmers' markets all week long, through this Saturday, Aug. 11. I wish there was a produce party or related festivities to point you to (although that's an idea worth mulling over for next year), but I suppose you could argue that farmers' markets already are a riot of colors, aromas and flavors, and there's a party going on every week in your neighborhood during growing season. Last year, the USDA recorded 4,385 markets nationwide, an 18 percent increase since 2004. When it does a 2007 tally, it will be able to add three more locations to the growing list of Washington area markets, including Bloomingdale Market (Sundays, 10 am.-2 p.m, until mid-November), a producer-only market at First and R Streets,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 6, 2007; 11:58 AM ET | Comments (31)

Debating the Cost of Farm-Market Goods

It seems that in this week's What's Cooking chat, I've touched a nerve about the cost of food at local farmer's markets versus that in the large supermarkets. Good. Here's an excerpt from a comment from "Sarah," who posted in yesterday's blog space: You wrote "When you buy from a big store, you are paying for the cost of long-distance jet fuel and warehouses and lots of other stuff to support a huge corporation." Should that make us feel guilty? Like I said, I sympathize with farmers and love the philosophy of locally-grown food, but I'm not among the very small subset of the American population wealthy enough to afford it. The economics of what we eat and the class divisions in where we get our food is a huge topic with so many ramifications. Clearly your blog is written from the perspective of a person of relative privilege who...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 25, 2007; 11:48 AM ET | Comments (0)

Getting Schooled in Pasta

Last Friday, I barreled out of Arlington and headed to greener pastures - Berryville, Va., to be exact. My destination was Smithfield Farm, home to the Pritchard family, a flock of chickens and small free-ranging herds of pigs, cows, goats and lamb. Their naturally-raised meats and eggs are sold at nine farm markets in the Washington area, but the reason for my visit last week was to learn the fine art of making pasta. Smithfield Farm's Nancy Pritchard feeding the chickens, aka "the girls," their breakfast of veggie and pasta dough scraps. (Kim O'Donnel) While Forrest Pritchard and his sister, Betsy, tend to the animals and the great outdoors, Nancy, Forrest's wife, is busy indoors mixing flour and semolina. Since 2003, Nancy has been selling one-pound boxes of fresh noodles and ravioli, at the height of farmer's market season, she and her staff of three crank out 500 boxes a...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 8, 2007; 10:59 AM ET | Comments (8)

A Spring Risotto

This time last week, I was celebrating the contents of my fridge, which were overwhelmingly green -- chard, leeks, buttery lettuce, green garlic -- and locally grown. It's such a pleasure to welcome spring vegetables back to the farmer's market scene, a parade of greenery that is crisp, bright and full of promise. Risotto gets a spring makeover, with leeks and green garlic. (Kim O'Donnel) And the show just keeps getting better and more beautiful. Joining the gorgeous green lineup this weekend were local asparagus, spinach and all kinds of herbs, such as tarragon, chervil, chives, dill and thyme. Risotto, as I mentioned last week, is a great way to experiment with spring's new arrivals. Taking a cue from "Local Flavors" by Deborah Madison, I spring-a-fied a pot of risotto, with leeks and green garlic, a zesty pair from the allium family. Lest you worry about having onion or garlic...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 30, 2007; 11:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Crunch of Spring

Many of you have been asking what's on offer at local farm market these days. Due to the extremely cold weather earlier this month, local farmers are dealing with spring crop delays and potential backlash from budding summer crops. As daunting as the news may sound, there's still plenty to choose from in these early weeks of the new season, as I discovered this Sunday at Freshfarm Market at Dupont Circle. Carrots don't get much better than these. (Kim O'Donnel) Below, a sampler of current produce highlights, which, of course, is subject to Mother Nature. P.S.: You'll want to get your hands on the updated farm market lists in today's Food section: Maryland Virginia DC Carrots These were the belles of this week's ball, laying in their glorious pale orange wonder, at the Next Step Produce stand operated by Heinz Thomet. Although sweet enough to crunch on their own, I...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 25, 2007; 10:57 AM ET | Comments (0)

Chile Pepper Parade

There's a changing of the guard at Season's gate later this week, with autumn officially kicking off the evening of Friday, Sept. 23. Like it or not, it's the home stretch of summer, the last opportunity to savor warm-weather crops that soon will be a winterized memory. Get'em while they last -- tomatoes, eggplant, corn, melon, peaches and peppers. Throughout this week, I'll pay tribute to a few summer produce hangers-on; today is all about chile peppers. Below, a chile sampler found at a few area farm markets over the weekend:...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 18, 2006; 12:08 PM ET | Comments (17)

A Seattle Sunday

Life is just terrible. I'm typing to you from a houseboat on Lake Union in Seattle, Wash. There's a breeze blowing through the screen of the sliding door and I can hear alternating quacks of ducks and caw-caws of sea gulls. Occasionally, a seaplane whizzes by on its way to the San Juan Islands. On a clear day, I can see some of the Olympic Mountains in the distance. Yesterday, four of us enjoyed brunch (which included a batch of blue corn blueberry pancakes) on the roof of the houseboat, so as to keep a watchful eye on the parade of sailboats out for a tour. It was a hot day for Seattle as temperatures reached the high 80s, so we jumped into the chilly lake for a quick invigorating dip. Our lazy afternoon eased its way into "An Incredible Feast." For three hours, we ate our way through a...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 21, 2006; 02:44 PM ET | Comments (5)

Who Loves Ya, Basil Baby?

Although still in a Sunday morning fog, I grabbed my market bags off the hook and stumbled out the front door for the few blocks to my neighborhood farmer's market. Basil: Not just for tomatoes anymore. (Kim O'Donnel) On my short walk, I began formulating my mental shopping list for the week, not paying attention to the fact that I was nearing the white canopies of the market. Suddenly, I was greeted with an alluring perfume, a mix of anise and flowers that immediately lifted me out of my somnambulistic state. "Wow," I said to myself out loud, "what smells so good?" One more step led me underneath a vegetable seller's canopy where the mystery was solved. Of course. It was the basil making all that aromatherapeutic magic. She was everywhere I looked, on display at nearly every vendor and graciously infusing the atmosphere -- allowing us to ignore the...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 14, 2006; 09:27 AM ET | Comments (11)

A Vegetarian Feast Fit for a Queen

You've listened to me wax philosophical about shopping at your local farmer's markets. I know I can be relentlessly passionate about eating and shopping locally, and maybe you've had enough of my stuff. But right about now is when all that philosophizing and dream weaving becomes a matter of practicality and smart food shopping. Okra at dusk. (Kim O'Donnel) August is the peak period for summer produce, and when the weather cooperates, the harvest is golden, yielding tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, herbs, onions, garlic, green beans, okra, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, peaches, melon and berries. (I'm sure I'm missing something; please add to the list in the comments area below.) Sounds like the produce aisle in the supermarket, doesn't it? And because of the variety of veg, it's easy to forget about meat at suppertime. Last night was a case in point. I stopped off at Clarendon farm market in the...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 10, 2006; 11:17 AM ET | Comments (13)

This Little Piggy Worked at Market

Sunday morning, early. The neighborhood is quiet enough that it seems only the birds and I are awake. I quickly munch on a piece of raisin toast, washed down with a few sips of coffee. I get dressed, stumble out of the house, still groggy, and walk two blocks to the Columbia Pike farmer's market. I'm not rushing to be the first customer; instead, I'm on my way to work. During the 2004 market season, I worked every Sunday at the market, alongside Mike Kennedy, who manages the stand for Twin Spring Fruit Farm, a 75-acre farm in Orrtanna, Pa. It was my first spring in my new neighborhood and quickly I became a regular market-goer. I had noticed that Kennedy often worked alone, juggling duties between the register and restocking the stand, all the while jovially talking up his customers. I asked him if he needed help, and he...

 

By Kim ODonnel | July 10, 2006; 09:41 AM ET | Comments (1)

Berry Marvelous

Warmer temperatures mean warm-weather crops -- and major produce scores at local farm markets. Making a debut appearance at Arlington Courthouse market this Saturday (8 a.m. - noon) were members of the squash family -- yellow, zucchini and the adorable pattypan -- and dare I say it, an inaugural bunch of peaches. The cast included cucumbers, onions of all colors, sweet (and sour) cherries, herbs galore and early-bird garlic bulbs. Blackberries and raspberries from Westmoreland Berry Fam in Oak Grove, Va. (Kim O'Donnel) But the main attraction, at least based on the long, movie theater-esque lines, were the berries! The stand at Westmoreland Berry Farm, of Oak Grove, Va., was bursting with color, showcasing six, yes six, different kinds of berries. There they were -- blueberries, blackberries, red and black raspberries, strawberries and tayberries (a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry) in all their glory, and it looked like...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 19, 2006; 09:22 AM ET | Comments (4)

Local Goodies, Six Days a Week

Yesterday was opening day at Clarendon Farmers Market, located by the Clarendon Metro stop in north Arlington. It was slow going - with a small handful of vendors, a trickle of shoppers and a power outage for the musicians - but none of that mattered. The market was a reminder that the Washington area is brimming with local produce NOT just on the weekends, but six days a week. Farmers are bringing their goods into town every day but Monday (even they need a rest), so there's really no excuse not to shop locally this summer. 

Early-season lettuces and other green goodies from Sunnyside Farms, at Clarendon Farmers Market Below is a day-by-day list of area markets, abridged from the Food section's annual list of farmers markets in the Washington area. I've culled from their exhaustive resource to make the point that there's a good chance of a farmers market...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 25, 2006; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (7)

 

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