It’s Saturday, I’m awake early as the local farmers market is on, but as I look outside, it’s raining and foggy. Oh how easy it would be to slip back between the nice warm sheets, and start reading a good book, after all there is always another market.
Then I’m reminded of the sense of accomplishment that rushes over me when I return with a trolley full of beautiful fresh produce and the enjoyment of preparing and eating later in the day. I push myself towards the front door, wellies on and umbrella in hand.
Of course it’s well worth thinking of our farmers who have no doubt been up at some ridiculously early hour packing their trucks and heading to the city to bring us their wares, having spent the day before picking, packing and organising themselves for markets day.
I do love farmers markets there is something in chatting with a farmer/ producer, being an orchardist’s daughter I recognize the quiet personality that suddenly comes to life when you start to discuss the produce or the weather. His or her often weather worn face lights ups and you realize they really are a wealth of knowledge and have so many interesting facts or stories to share.
The atmosphere takes you miles away from our daily rush of commuting and sticking to schedules, I do recommend you come prepared for the elements but also without time frames. Often there are ques, everyone stands patiently awaiting their turn to chat with the sellers, patience is a virtue and quite easy to bear as you realise when it is your turn, the seller has all the time in the world for you. Ask what they suggest today, how to cook it and really anything you care to enquire about, generally you will be the only person that matters in the eyes of the seller for those few moments when you are at the head of the que. It’s also fabulous to see kids running around not an iPad or tablet in hand, just enjoying the local entertainers and outdoors.
A bonus is certainly the freshness of the produce, knowing it has been picked within the last 24 hrs, travelled minimal miles and only been handled a couple of times. The taste and longevity is outstanding. I never intend to overshop but everything looks amazing and before I know it I’ve shopped for 10, I perhaps need to plan a dinner party. I do know from experience however that such fresh produce stores for days/weeks and not a thing is wasted. Once I’m home everything is packed away and stored well, wrapping the salad greens in a clean cloth and then in plastic will keep them super fresh for at least 5 – 7 days. Often if I’m planning on using the vegetables in the next couple of days I don’t even put them in the fridge, as long as they are out of any direct sunlight the remain in tip top condition in the basket by the kitchen island.
I firstly try and buy Victorian, certainly Australian. Why would I eat Californian walnuts (as tasty as they are) when I can buy fresher, tastier and cheaper from my local markets. If your still buying mass produced imported olive oil from your supermarket, I challenge you to taste test a local producer, olive oil that is freshly pressed and travels very few miles wins out every time in my kitchen.
Eating foods as they are in season, not only provides you the best flavour, I love the sense of pleasure in the moment and expectation of what is to come in the months ahead. At the moment I am living in excited expectation of the truffles that will soon grace our markets, and hopefully my plate.
Buying from the farmers markets also means you are helping a local producer to support their family, pay their bills and hopefully be able to stay on the land to see another year of producing the best for us all to share.
If you are interested in local farmers markets but unsure of where they may be held, email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to help research for you.
A great website is www.Farmhousedirect.com.au the range is amazing and you are still getting the best produce and supporting our local farmers and producers, plus there is the added advantage of shopping from your warm and snug home if the weather is just too wet and cold to venture outside.