Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Dandy Dish from Local Farmers

The other day at the store, I noticed a display of "Jersey Fresh" produce, and decided to browse around. For those who aren't native, New Jersey--yes, New Jersey-- is nicknamed the Garden State, as we aren't just home to oil refineries and turnpikes, but to real working farms. Farms that produce some pretty good stuff!

But, I'll admit it... I'm a bit of a "Farmers' Market Hater." I've had unpleasant experiences at several. This does NOT mean I don't support local farmers, though. I just don't support sellers unloading produce from Argentina off the back of the truck and passing it off to consumers as local. I don't support towns who look at Market Day as a way to give parking tickets. And I don't support sellers of baked goodies, sweets, cakes and pies. Now, I know many of my readers will disagree with me on this. But for me, the Farmers' Market should be about the vegetables, not the donuts.

Luckily, I've found getting good local produce in the summer doesn't always require a trip to the Farmers' Market. Many area grocery chains feature local produce, seven days a week, at decent prices. Parking included. Donuts optional.

That day, like a typical sucker in a grocery store, I made an impulse buy. Unlike a typical sucker, however, it wasn't in the candy aisle. It was for dandelion greens. I'd never eaten dandelion greens before. But I know they flourish around here, and I was fairly certain I could find a recipe. Into my cart they went! Last night I cooked them up with a bit of olive oil, red onion and garlic, and they were delicious.

This morning, I did some research and was pleased to learn that in addition to being delicious, dandelion greens are good source of potassium and calcium. They also are a great source of fiber. They're chocked full of Vitamin A, folate, iron and Vitamin C. And one cup is a mere 25 calories.

Local produce-- however and wherever we choose to buy it-- can serve as an opportunity to discover something healthy and new. It can please our palate and our waistlines. Local foods can range from the common (Hello there, tomatoes!) to the unique (Ever tried Purple Basil?) I hope before the growing season ends, you will take the time to try a new fruit or vegetable. And perhaps support a local farmer or two in the process. Happy eating!