Posts Tagged ‘Local produce’

Market in Guanajuato Mexico

Market in Guanajuato Mexico

Travel offers opportunity to try foods you might normally not see in your local market.  Wherever you go, visit the local grocery store, farmer’s market or street vendor.  In Guanajuato, there’s a vast two level city market built with great style and flair.  Navigate up the iron steps to the galleria on the top level where you can look down on the passing scene  then stroll around to buy Mexican candied delicacies, cacao, hammocks, clothes and every type of food.  On the streets around the market, small purveyors offer fruit at outdoor markets with prices marked on boards or called out by hawkers.

The delicate normal-sized strawberries sold during Spring carry stupendous taste.  Nothing sold in el Norte comes close for flavor intensity.

Of course you can!


Check out the fabulous salsa recipe with chipotle chilies — http://www.bernardin.ca/

Canning steps for tomatoes and mixed tomato sauces — tomato and herb pasta sauce, salsa, tomato chutney, etc.  Review canning process on videos and canning jar websites before embarking on this multi-step process.  Start small and work up to production levels if you are new to canning and preserving food in glass jars.

* Grow fresh produce. Harvest or buy at farm market.

* Wash.  Cut out bad spots, stems and hulls. Remove tomato skins if you prefer.

* Wash the jars.  Acquire lids and rings to match jar mouth.

* Boil water and put in the empty jars and lids.

* Boil water to cover tomatoes packed in the jars.

* Place tomatoes in jars (wide mouth jars are easiest) and push out air spaces with knife or spatula.

* Don’t overfill jars.  Food inside the jar should stop at least  3/4 to 1 inch from top lip. This is called the jar “head space” needed for processing period when the contents will boil and expand.

* Add a little sea salt to each jar.  Cover tomatoes with boiling water just to 3/4 to 1 inch from top lip.  Adjust tomatoes in the jar so there are no air bubbles and hot water is below the head space.  The hot water will spread the salt through the food.  If you are making sauces or salsa, the salt and other seasonings would have been added during cooking.

* With a clean tea towel, dip it in boiling water and wipe the edge of the jar, inside and out, until the entire top area of the jar and the head space area inside and out is perfectly free of food smears, seeds, etc.  Re-wipe the jar top edge with boiling water on another area of the tea towel.  With tongs, fetch a flat lid from the boiling water bath and place on top of jar.  Holding the jar with your other hand, screw on the ring until it is secure, but not overly tight.

* Place all the filled and sealed jars in a large pot about 1/3 filled with boiling water (a crab pot, kettle, soup pot, etc).  The appropriate pot will hold about 6 to 8 quart jars.  Add boiling water until the jar tops are just covered.  Adjust heat and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.  This is called the “boiling water bath” or “hot water processing”.  This is not steam processing in a pressure cooker used for all other vegetables.  Tomatoes are unique that their acid content is high enough to ensure that hot water boiling is sufficient to safely preserve the food contents.

* Please review the canning process on videos and canning websites provided by jar manufacturers.  If you don’t feel comfortable canning, freeze the mixtures.  It’s best to approach canning like changing a tire.  Get someone who knows how to do it to show you.

* Foods preserved in glass are lovely to look at, fun to eat and don’t rot when the electricity fails.

Time to sign up for your fresh vegetables for the next growing season of 2013.

National database of CSA farmers

Local Harvest explains that “Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.”

Here are links to maps and lists that specify locations of  producers in the DC-MD-VA area.

Maryland

Montgomery County, MD

USDA resources on CSA

The Gleaners by Jean-Francois Millet

DC Urban farmers — let them know they can come out and be a “Crop Mob” on the Agricultural zone farms.

http://www.dc-urban-gardeners.com/composting/

Crop mobs are city dwellers who come out and do chores on local farms as volunteers. For more on the crop mob scene — here is their blog:

http://cropmob.org/  

Maryland Farmers Market listed by county

Montgomery County list.

These folks are our food allies. Give them your business and talk to others about the issues local farmers face.  Diminishing land near urban centers and water scarcity are just two of many challenges.  Support local farmers and you’ll always have food growing nearby.

Promotion for Edible Communitiesedible Communities publications connect local small-scale food producers with customers.   The magazines are linked to regions or urban centers and feature interviews with organic farmers, recipes, talks with chefs, vendors and regulators. Gorgeous design, graphics and photographs enhance the edible Communities publications.

http://www.ediblecommunities.com/content/  — Check out Edible Radio!

Nationally, the Edible Community of sustainable food  and organic farming advocates represent a significant audience of good food enthusiasts.

I met the co-founder, Tracey Ryder, years ago in one of the food writing workshops I teach for the University of California, Los Angeles.  At the time, she featured Edible Ojai in the portfolio of publications.  Marvelous to watch the concept grow and the audience for organic farm food expand exponentially.

Thank you, Tracey and colleagues, for your efforts to promote farmers and  the pleasures of food.  The James Beard Foundation Award, 2011 is well-deserved.

Congratulations!

Fresh Farm Markets DC (“DC” means Maryland, Delaware and Virginia as well as the District  of Columbia).  Patronize these  farmers and producers who are the allies of cooks and curators of fine food.

Why buy from local farmers when the mega-mart offers bargain food and it’s wrapped in see through plastic?  Read the short answers here, but think about the long answer.  Do you know who grows your food?  Have you talked to the person who picked your dinner from the coop or field?

The Montgomery County Maryland Agricultural Reserve has endured for 30 years. It was a model for the nation at inception.  Is that still true? 

More than half of the county’s 93,000 acres of viable farmland is preserved through legal mechanisms such as the  transfer of development rights and easement purchases. It is not always clear whether these mechanisms serve the interests of farmers or whether real estate developers are the actual winners.  Montgomery County, Maryland has a farmland preservation goal to protect 70,000 acres of farmland by 2010.  It is now the end of the first quarter of 2011.

The Montgomery County farms that I remember and that still remain are family-run. Of course, many farm families sold out to development and corporate entities, enticed by financial gain.  Most of the dairy farms that go back for generations are gone. Instead of cows, the rolling fields are dotted with McMansions and Starter Castles slapped together with cheap materials with no consciousness of the regional archiectural style, or for that matter, any style at all except Vague Colonial.

The farms that remain operational are industrious, but they are not industrialized. Preserving farmland resources impacts the health and quality of life for all citizens of Montgomery County.  It is imperative to sustain the pioneering purpose of the agriculture preserve so that farmers will continue to produce there.

County residents have the duty to prevent the collusion of developers and council executive, that in practice sells open space in the agricultural zone for increased tax revenues.  Current practices are undermining the original premise of the agricultural preserve and sounding the death knell for production capabilities in the future.

Resources:

Montgomery County, Md. Agriculture Facts http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/ded/agservices/pdffiles/agfactsheet2010.pdf

National Capital Farms – http://www.nationalcapitalfarms.org/

Farm Country Escape — http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/travel/escapes/111099.htm

Montgomery County Farm Tour – http://dc.about.com/od/specialevents/a/MCFarmTour.htm

 

This recipe for dandelion wine — not to be confused with the novel Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury — was developed from oral tradition, community cookbooks and personal experience. Wait until spring when the first dandelions gild the fields.

1 gallon dandelion flowers

1 gallon boiling water

3 lbs. sugar

3 oranges cut in small pieces

3 lemons cut in small pieces

1 oz yeast

Pick dandelion flowers early in the morning, taking care not to have  particles of the bitter stem attached. Do not use dandelion flowers from fields or lawns that have been contaminated by pesticides.

No need to wash the flowers. Pour boiling water over the flowers and let stand 3 days.  Strain and add the rest of the ingredients.  Let stand to ferment three weeks.  Strain and bottle.

USDA Organic brand – a circle with “USDA” on top half of circle and “Organic” on bottom half of circle placed on a green field with cultivation suggested by white lines signifying rows of plants.

Organic Certifications

Has anyone seen this certification brand?  QAI -Quality Assurance International — a stylized Q with earth shaped grid in center and words “Quality Assurance International” on edge of circle inside the Q.  At one time the brand included the words “certified organic” in the logo.

When you buy fresh produce, check that the organic certification brand is visible.  Learn about standards by visiting the websites of regulatory agencies for the countries that provide the food that you buy and eat.

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_certification

http://www.qai-inc.com/about/index.asp

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/organic/certification.htm

http://www.quebecvrai.org/




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