Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Bounty of Local Harvests: Part Two

Please pardon the length of time it has taken me to follow up with you about my farmer's market findings. It turns out that the New York City area is even more of a cornucopia than even I anticipated. My journey to find local bounty began at Stone Barns, located in Pocantico Hills, NY. stonebarnscenter

Here, I was greeted with the scents and sounds of a working farm. The scents were surprisingly fresh and crisp considering that I grew up next door to a working farm, and the scents coming from that farm were definitely more odoriferous in the most unpleasant sense of the word. I have a feeling this has to do with the fact that the farm's beneficial symbiotic practices extend to all of the flora and fauna that have the privilege of living at this location.

I entered the herb gardens where the market is held and was greeted with the smell of an herbal medley and tables loaded high with different varieties of salad and Asian greens, garlic scapes (yes, I found them!), herbs, several varieties of meat, and, of course, the vegetable that started this all - bunches and bunches of tasty, "I was just in the desert and happened on this oasis of taste," CARROTS! No time to rejoice though; I had more markets to visit, and these carrots would give me the energy I needed with their ample helping of vitamins A, K, C, and B. I found out the nutritional information about carrots incidentally from a very useful website called The World's Healthiest Food. The purpose of this site is "to provide consumers with unbiased scientific information about how nutrient-rich foods can promote vibrant health and energy and fit personal needs and busy lifestyles." The website includes recipes and nutritional information and health benefits of different foods.

Finally, some real carrots!

My tasty bounty

On Saturday morning, I visited the farmer's market in Pleasantville, NY. It is one of 19 markets run in the NYC area by Community Markets. Their three driving ideas are "to make fresh produce available to all people, to support local agriculture, and to strengthen local communities." A visit to a market with these values ensures that one can have the opportunity to speak to the person who is growing the food, which is in fact just what I did.

In fact, I met an entire family from Claverack, NY who farms using "local, humane, sustainable farming and use organic/biodynamic methods." The Cowberry Crossing Farm sells a variety of vegetables and also raise a variety of free-range, organically-fed farm animals including bees, horses, chickens, and rabbits. Their farm was clearly a family affair, and each member was helping out at the market. I found more organic produce including radishes, salad greens, onions, and garlic at the Butternut Valley Organics farm stand.

The Cowberry Crossing Farm Crew:
Richard, Cecile, Grace, and Reese

In addition to produce and eggs, I also found two purveyors of organic bread and cheese. The Bobolink Dairy and Bakeyard sells grass-fed raw milk cheeses, wood-fired rustic bread, and pasture-raised meats. A highlight of their website is cheesemaker Jonathan White's "bookshelf" with a listing of recently read books on topics not just about food, but also about the entire ecosystem including Oxford zoology professor Richard Dawkins' book The Ancestor's Tale and On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. Jonathan's Bookshelf

My second bread supplier, Bread Alone, makes European style organic artisan breads and pastries. I tend to offset my Saturday morning yoga class with a healthy dose of organic sugar and carbs at their stand, where I often indulge in a croissant or fruit muffin. Their wide selection provides sweet and savory tastes for every palate, and they also have cafes in Woodstock and Rhinebeck, NY. Looking for someone to make your organic wedding cake? They do that too.

There's nothing better than fresh bread

I rounded out my food for the week with fruit from the Mead Orchard stand. Because it is July, I was able to get two different kinds of cherries and a quart of blueberries. Mead Orchard is located in Red Hook, NY and depending on the season, also offers strawberries, cherries, blueberries, peaches, apples, and pumpkins. Mead Orchard

We feasted for several days on our farmer's market food, and we even drew on some of the seasonal recipes from the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle website. When Wednesday rolled around, I got a call from one of my friends reminding me about a dinner we had planned for that evening. Since we did not have much left from my previous farmer's market trip, and I wanted to remain true to the project, I decided to check out the Greenmarket in Union Square in New York City. The markets are run by The Council on the Environment of New York City and take place all over the city. The Union Square market is open on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. There are vendors selling produce, plants, meats, dairy products, pickled products, jams, breads, and desserts. You can easily find all you need for full meals here, especially during the summer months.

I bought everything I needed for the evening at the stands operated by Tello's Green Farm, Hydro Garden Farm, Evolutionary Organic, Hawthorne Valley Farm, and Keith's Farm, which is where I found this enormous head of organic lettuce.

State Fair, here we come!

I am spending the next few weeks in the Pacific Northwest, and I certainly plan on eating locally while there. When I return at the beginning of August, there will be many new fruits and vegetables to enjoy, including one of my favorites, heirloom tomatoes. Stay tuned, this report on the joys of eating locally and sustainably produced food may turn into a trilogy.

1 comment:

leigh andrew said...

I must say... eating locally is a cinch here in California. It is MUCH more difficult in the Northeast where I grew up. Sure, in the summertime we have 2 months of backyard veges and maybe 3-4 months of locally grown (fresh) veges, but otherwise eating locally may mean forgoing fresh fruits/veges for old potatoes, frozen things, and locally produced things. I'm happy to be in a place right now where I can get fresh things much of the year - it's a relief (til i move back East in a few years!)

cheers to yummy foods!