The grass may be emerald green and dotted with dandelions and violets, tulips may dance in the breeze under a bright blue sky full of billowy clouds, and the humming birds and bees may be buzzing in my garden, but nothing marks the true arrival of Spring for me quite like the opening day of the local farm stands and markets.
Living in Central Ohio, we are very lucky to have easy access to some of the best local and organic foods in the country. You do not have to go far off the beaten path before you will find your self driving down serene country roads scattered with both small and large farms. In front of many of them you will see hand painted signs advertising Fresh Eggs, Maple Syrup, and Honey. By Mid-Summer you may even find a small little table on the side of the road, placed under a tall shady tree, set upon it is most often a colorful bumper crop of home grown fruits, vegetables, and flowers sold entirely on the honor system. Something about putting your money in the jar, and selecting what you need while a tractor whirs in a nearby field is an experience all in it’s own and one not to be missed.
In the months ahead I will be taking my camera and exploring many of the local farm stands and markets surrounding the Metro-Columbus area. Sharing my findings in Ceres’ Secrets is already something I am very excited about and it seems fitting to start by sharing my favorite one first…
For the past three years, I have been very lucky to have had the luxury of traveling Read more…
Eating Local in Ohio
(photo courtesy of Whole Foods Market)
This past weekend I drove into Columbus to explore the nearest Whole Foods Market, hoping to find some GMO Free replacements for the items we had decided to eliminate from our diet. It has been years since we have lived within driving distance from a Whole Foods, but as soon as we walked through the doors, I remembered why it used to be one of our favorite places to shop.
Navigating my grocery cart through the produce section, my senses were immersed in a rainbow of colors and instantly intermingled with the fragrances as well as the textures of some of the freshest, best looking produce I had seen since shopping the local Amish Farm Markets last summer. We are just entering into the first throes of spring here in the mid-west and it felt decadent to find produce that looked as if it had been picked just that morning. Without a second thought, I filled my cart with large healthy looking bunches of crisp organic arugula, bright orange carrots with green tops, red and gold Beets, green and white asparagus, no thicker than my baby finger, vibrant green leeks, perfect purple potatoes, luscious Texas grapefruits, and some of the largest, and sunniest Meyer Lemons I have ever seen. Read more…
Notes from my kitchen
(photo courtesy USDA.GOV)
Once upon a time, well actually, less than a century ago, our ancestors knew how to farm the land with out the use of chemical fertilizers, weed killers, excessive pesticides, and genetically modified seeds (seeds that had been scientifically and biologically altered from their natural state). Farmers as they had for many generations before them, saved the seeds from their own heirloom crops from year to year. They nurtured their land, farmed responsibly, and provided food for their families as well as the local community. People ate with the seasons, preserved the bumper crops, and food did not typically travel more then 50 miles to the table it would eventually be served on.
Today life is much different then it was in those good old days. Science, industry, technology, and the population have all experienced rapid growth. Our communities are no longer self sustaining and many of the things we buy including our food, comes from other countries. The contents in an average bag of groceries has often traveled over 1,500 miles before it has found its way into our home and many of the items we buy are made with ingredients we can not pronounce. The safety and integrity of these products are no longer in the hands of the traditional farmer, but in the hands of major agricultural companies such as Monsanto. Companies that play an interesting role in the future development of farming practices and the current production of many of the United States’ major crops. Read more…
Notes from my kitchen
If you have ever tasted the delicate flavor of the first baby lettuce of the season or have experienced the joy of standing in a backyard garden while eating early garden peas right from the pod, then you know the pleasure the first crops of Spring can bring. Truly nothing can compare with how complex, rich, and concentrated their flavors are, especially just moments after they have been harvested.
The first produce to hit the local markets is bright, colorful, and crisp, its aroma alone could almost be considered hypnotic. Strolling through the farmers market it takes quite a bit of restraint not to overfill your basket and just run with it like there is no tomorrow. Instinctively, our bodies seem to respond to this colorful array with a pent up longing for the potent vitamins and minerals that we have been lacking through most of the winter. Not surprisingly, the items you find will offer your body exactly what it needs to shake off the last of the winter blues, energizing you for the longer days ahead.
If ever there was a time to temporarily discard recipes, prepare food by instinct, and serve it closest to its natural state, this would be the time. A light splash of lemon juice, a good olive oil, and the tiniest bit of sea salt is all you need to dress a salad right now. There is no need for anything complicated, the greens which are always most tender in the spring, speak volumes all on their own. The fruit is absolutely luscious and seductive dripping with juices when you bite or cut into it. Drizzle raspberries with the tiniest bit of local honey and serve them on thin baguette slices, which have been spread with an almost sheer layer of mascarpone cheese… one of my all time favorite treats! Truly, with very little effort, it is really quite painless to eat like kings and queens when you pause from cooking and merely assemble your food. Read more…