Farmers Markets Are the Key Ingredient
- on May 15, 2013
On Friday, May 10, Micahel Pollan spoke about his new book “Cooked” at the Unity Temple in Kansas City. Several folks from Lawrence were lucky enough to be in attendance. The book is, for all practical purposes, the third in a series of writings on one of our nation’s favorite subjects – food. Pollan swept the country with his diary like travel log “The Omnivores Dilemma” where he sets off in search of the perfect meal, testing the waters of four specific genres of food – Industrial, Organic, Gatherer and Hunter. His booked “Cooked” travels along a similar path, exploring the realm of cooking in his own kitchen and in other kitchens across the continent.
In Kansas City Pollan read an excerpt from his book detailing a special family dinner where he and his son ventured off to the grocery store to select individual microwavable meals for each family member to feast on. As the story unfolds, Pollan discovers that microwaving meals for a family of three makes it impossible for everyone to sit down and eat together. The meal took a total of 37 minutes to prepare and cost a total of $27. He points out this same amount of money could have been spent at any farmers market purchasing enough locally grown meat and fresh seasonal vegetables to feed twice as many people. The locally purchased meal could have easily been cooked in less time and most likely would have been a whole lot tastier to devour.
Pollan understands the importance of local food and the benefits communities and families receive when there is a strong, sustainable food system in place. In more than one of his books Pollan points to the local farmer as the potential savior of our health, our economy and our overall well being. In his talk on Friday, Pollan drove home the need for year round farmers markets. He explained that the only way to achieve year round local food production was through the support of our farmers and area farmers markets. It is only through strong spring and summer sales and positive interactions with market patrons that farmers will be in a position to take on the somewhat uncharted territory of year round food production.
Lawrence and Kansas City are both blessed with a strong and growing local food culture. Farmers struggling from season to season are filled with hope as patrons turn out in droves during the summer farmers markets. After his speech, but before the night was over, Pollan was surprised and delighted to hear that both Kansas City and Lawrence, KS already have year round farmers markets. The Bad Seed in Kansas City and Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market in Lawrence both offer year round venues for farmers to share their bounty with community members. Ideally, as patronage at the markets increases, farmers will gain the confidence and the resources to grow more and to grow longer.
Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market indoor season has come to an end and their outdoor season is ramping up into full swing. The cool rainy weather has delayed the majority of crops this season, but talented farmers are boasting a variety of fresh seasonal greens, radishes, onions, turnips, lettuces, mushrooms and asparagus. Morel mushrooms have been bountiful this year and though the asparagus has not yet hit its full stride, many tasty stems have been trickling into the farmers market.
While patrons wait for late spring and summer crops, including the much anticipated strawberries, followed by that much heralded first tomato of the season, they can feast on a wide variety of humanely raised, local meats as well as fresh produce. From freshly harvested chickens to aged and cured sausages, Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market has a wide selection to choose from.
If cooking is not your strong point, the farmers market is a great place to learn about some of the easiest, full proof methods for preparing any product the farmers have to offer. The beauty of purchasing produce directly from the farmer, aside from its guaranteed freshness, is the fact that farmers eat what they grow and they typically do not have a lot of time to spare in the kitchen. Most farmers are great cooks, possessing a wide variety of quick and easy recipes to turn even the simplest of ingredients into a delectable and satisfying entrée. Talk to your farmer and ask them about their favorite way to prepare what they are selling. You will be surprised at how simple it is to make a delectable dish from produce purchased at your local farmers market.
Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market is held every Thursday in the back parking lot of Cottin’s Hardware & Rental at 1832 Massachusetts Street in Lawrence. The market runs from 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm and hosts 20 – 24 vendors. Through the month of May Mr. Bacon BBQ will be serving up his delicious pulled pork sandwiches, as well as his highly popular Pig Pie and Chick Pie. Free State Brewing Company will be on hand pouring several varieties of their locally brewed spirits. Thursday, May 16, roving troubadour L.A. Fahy will provide entertainment and music for market patrons and vendors alike.
Support your local farmers; shop your local farmers market – now and throughout the year.