Saturday, September 18, 2010

Farmers' Market Finds

Today I took all three kids to the Market Square Farmers Market and was very pleased with my purchases. Sometimes all the booths can be overwhelming and you feel paralyzed, "What should I buy?" Ultimately it comes down to what you like and what you're willing to try.

For veggies, I picked up some unique looking summer squash ($2.75/lb), tomatoes ($3/lb) that I plan to dehydrate to make sun dried tomatoes, and swiss chard ($2/bunch) he suggested I saute with garlic. Tonight's dinner was beef stew, and a fresh french baguette ($5) was the perfect addition.

Since Gabrielle at Couponing in Critical Times had raved about the goat cheese (yep, ran into her at the market), I picked up 5 oz of the italian herb variety ($6) from Kira's Kids Dairy. Kira is a goat who's had 29 kids. Larry Banks milks the goats and his wife Kimberly makes the cheese. The cheese is melt-in-your-mouth and can be used on sandwiches instead of mayo, on baguettes, on pizza, or in a variety of recipes.

I had also never tried Cruze Dairy Farm products until ice cream samples were presented to my sons. They gobbled them down quickly, knowing chocolate before noon was a rare treat indeed. "Mmmmmm" was all they could say. We also sampled some of their milk, and I decided on a half gallon of chocolate and a half gallon of whole (for Brooke). Together they were $5 but SO worth it. Bobby commented on the chocolate milk at dinner, "It takes like the ice cream, just melted." Yes, it did! Since we go through 3-4 gallons of milk a week in our home, I'm not ready to pay their prices for all our milk, but sometimes you've just gotta splurge for good health's sake.

I guess that's why I shop the farmers' markets at all. I know the prices are more than I could get at Kroger, but my couponing allows me the luxury of spending more here. I'm willing to pay more for A. local, B. fresher, C. tastier D. healthier. Personally, I seek out the stands that are "Certified Naturally Grown" (a certification similar to organic). We have no local organic farmers because of the money involved in becoming certified organic, but I commend those who make sustainable choices in farming.

Some of my favorites are the Colvin Family Farm, Mountain Meadows Farm, Organicism Farms, and Bob Due's Terraced Gardens Farm. I'm considering joining one of their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs. You pay $20 - $30 a week and get a variety of the freshest fruits and vegetables that farm produces. I saw one woman picking up her box, and I was impressed.

At the end of the market, I had spent $31. But Bobby's response for "Why do we shop at the farmer's market?" was priceless. "Because they sell healthy food. After all, they're farmers!" Ahh, something is sinking in. ;-)

Please continue to check out the farmers markets around town through Thanksgiving (I think). There is one every day but Monday and Sunday I believe. And if there's a UT home game, go early to get a parking space!

Which markets do you frequent? What are your favorite items to pick up at the markets?

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