It all started with half dead produce at the grocery store. I would bring the produce home and it would whither within a few days. I never gave eating locally grown food a thought unless it was summer time and the signs at the grocery store said, “LOCAL”. At this point… what did I care where my fruits and veggies came from – at least I was eating fruits and veggies!
Really, if I think back to it, my journey with produce in general really started to grow when I started making my own baby food for Connor. Then Kevin started P90X and followed the meal plan. I was overwhelmed with alllll this produce on the grocery list. Slowly but surely the processed foods made their way off my list. The more I read about processed foods – the more I didn’t realize what I was putting in my body. I mean, I grew up on the blue box of Kraft Mac n Cheese and Tyson chicken nuggets! I was healthy why would I question it??? But that’s a whole other thought for a different post.
At the beginning of this year I read, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life” by Barbara Kingsolver. All I can say is it lit a fire under me. I didn’t go out to my back yard, rip up the grass and plant a garden. I have commitment issues with plants and gardens upkeep.
What did I start doing then?
Well I started looking at where things were made. Kingsolver mentioned the waste of resources that comes with buying things from across the country. Sooo if I were buying things I was checking to see how far away these items came from and trying to get something that came as close as possible.
I didn’t realize that store brand stuff in my store was coming from Oregon! Across the country!! Rather than buying Chips Ahoy cookies I buy cookies from the bakery in the store or the red/white checked bag from a bakery in Baltimore, MD. I didn’t realize how much they taste more like a cookie than Nabisco’s. When Connor wants Mac n Cheese I pick it up from the deli at the grocery store. They’ve made it that day and its way better tasting then anything out of the blue box. Is it healthier? No clue. I will say that it’s fresher.
THEN I started researching Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and Farmer’s Markets. The summer before I started researching it but I never did anything with it.
The more I looked at CSA’s the more I realized it wasn’t in our budget to afford an CSA up front. I wanted to but at this point who knew if this was just a new “phase” for me like Pinterest was when I first discovered it. After talking with a friend she told me about the Bear’s Honeypot. They did CSA’s that you could pay for by the week. I was sold!
BUT THEN I discovered the Farmer’s Market. I fell in love. Like seriously in love. I have loved watching what fruits and veggies come into season as others fade. My first trip out there was this spring. April. It was COLD. I got there right when it opened. I don’t know what I was expecting but it was so low key and early in the season. Just some greens, onions, potatoes and few things. I waited and waited for the GOOD stuff. Week by week the Farmer’s Market got busier and busier. More and more options.
We saw asparagus come and go, strawberries come and go, swiss chard come and go, and now MD tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, ears of corn, summer squash, zucchini, peppers, peaches, nectarines slowly fading and every kind of apple you can imagine, pears, winter melons, winter squashes and sweet potatoes starting to come into the picture. Just as I start to get sad over one of my favorites going away another is right there for me to get excited.
Not only did I discover local produce but I discovered local pickles (some of the best pickles I’ve ever eaten), locally made cheese, local desserts, local breads and local soap!
Every weekend from my first trip in April through now we have bought almost all local produce for the week. What we need that I can’t find I get from the grocery store (if its really needed). If we were out of town for the weekend or busy, I placed an order with the Bear’s Honey Pot so I could pick up a share for our weeks produce when we return.
Where do I go from here?
The Farmer’s Market is open till mid-December. I’m not sure what will come into the picture at that point. I imagine it will be low key like my first trip in April. I’ve started buying extra summer squash, zucchini and peppers to freeze for when I’m staring at half dead produce at the grocery store and my heart is breaking for the beauty that summer brings.
You MIGHT find me planting a mini garden next summer. MIGHT. We’ll see.