Published on September 27th, 2012 | by Mary Gerush1
Farmers Market + Small, Local Food Producer + Reducing Food Waste = Heaven On My Plate
I live in North Dallas — a famers market desert.
We have a great year-round farmers market downtown and stupendous regional markets in nearby towns like Coppell, Grand Prairie, and Fort Worth. But Dallas is a big city, and unfortunately, the expense and environmental impact of driving to these enticing markets makes me question the value. It sucks, because I am happiest buying produce from a local farmer — the produce rocks, we support the local economy, and we meet some beautiful food-producing people.
Fortunately, I’ve found an oasis in my farmers market desert. A very small market pops up every Saturday (at least for now) in the parking lot of an event center at 677 West Campbell Road. Our first visit revealed one lonely farm stand in the company of numerous vendors selling pasta, jewelry, and fresh bread. Then the market grew — perhaps as the hot summer weather cooled — to include another farm stand and more local vendors, including a grass-fed beef supplier whose chuck roast kicked my family’s butt the other night.
Last Saturday, we patronized this small, local farmers market in a parking lot in North Dallas, and we discovered…
A Small, Local Food Producer
Sadie B’s daughter smiled as we walked up to her table and its display of Jamaican sauces and seasonings. She shared a story. Her sister envisioned a food company — one that sells food founded on their Jamaican heritage. My husband loves heat, so a few products inspired us to taste and found their ways into our shopping bag: Sadie B’s Jerk Spice Rub, Authentic Jamaican Jerk Sauce, and Jerk Barbecue Sauce. Sadie’s daughter shared her love of jerk-seasoned pork with us. Which inspired me to…
Reduce Food Waste
Hey (thought I) — I have a small pork shoulder in my freezer. What if I defrosted it (instead of throwing it away in six months due to freezer burn), rubbed it with the Jerk Spice Rub, let it sit overnight, and threw it into a dutch oven with tomatillos, garlic, chicken broth, and some worcestershire sauce? And what if I cooked it in a 300 degree oven for about 2.5 hours, removed the pork shoulder to rest, immersion-blended the sauce, and reduced it with just a bit of cream? The answers to these questions led me to…
Heaven On My Plate
The result of this calculated experiment? A fabulous dinner. The meat was tender, and the sauce kicked it up enough to raise your eyebrows and smile without exhaling in pain. I served it over rice. Seriously great.
I also feel good about how this meal came together. I shopped locally, used food I had already bought (reducing food waste), and supported my local community. Not bad for a day’s work.
Do It Yourself
If you want to experience heaven on a plate like we did, you must:
- Seek out the best ingredients in your area. My farmers market — while tiny — met my need to shop locally and cook with the freshest ingredients I could find. To find markets in your area, check out The USDA National Farmers Market Directory, the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass, Local Harvest, or Local Dirt.
- Look for more than just produce at your farmers market. Small food producers need your support, and many of them hang their shingles at your local farmers markets. Stop by, chat, taste, and buy (if you like). You will support your local economy and the people that stand behind it.
- Use your freezer. Buy when food is in season. Freeze it, defrost it, and reap the benefits. Sounds easy, right? Yeah…no. I’ve learned it’s important to keep your freezer stock to a minimum, label everything clearly, do a quick inventory now and then, and try to shop from your freezer once a week.
- Be a bit adventurous. I usually follow recipes (sometimes written, sometimes from memory). Tonight, I just went for it, and the payoff was good. Sometimes, you just have to trust your instincts and experience. Tonight was one of those nights. Don’t be afraid!
I experienced the perfect storm of local food, fresh produce, and good cooking tonight. Will it happen again anytime soon? I don’t know. But I’d sure love it if you’d share your “perfect storm” cooking stories with our readers. Thanks so much.
Want to talk more about reducing food waste? Join us today at 4pm for a Google Hangout to do just that. Click here for details!