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Adventures in food for curious cooks.

Mostly Plants Series

How to use whatever produce you find at your farmers market or CSA. Roots to leaves and flowers, here's how to cook with what you've got.

Meeting the Farmers Behind the Markets

Lynley Jones

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Chat up a farmer, and get a great story.

Farmers' Markets

If you're anything like me, you are no stranger to farmers' markets. They are a fun place to wander around, run into neighbors, and make new discoveries. Sometimes there's live music or food trucks, or merchants selling spices or cheese or jams and jellies. Sometimes there are clipboard-bearing activists looking for signatures, or rescued pets looking for homes.

 The Montclair Farmers' Market in New Jersey on a recent Saturday.

The Montclair Farmers' Market in New Jersey on a recent Saturday.

But one of the best things about any farmers' market is the farmers. They are usually knowledgeable about the food they grow, and know how to cook and serve it, since they're probably eating a lot of it at home. They can answer questions and give advice, and in my experience, they enjoy talking about the literal fruits of their labors.

Did You Know?

You might be interested to know that sometimes farmers include some produce from other farms in their offerings at the market. They may be members of farm networks, so that they have access to produce from other farms that perhaps didn't grow well on their own farm this season. Or things that are in season a little farther south or north, but not quite where their own farm is.

Occasionally, farmers may sell produce that traveled a great distance to get to your local farmers' market. In my experience, farmers are generally open and honest about all of this. For many farmers, it's part of doing business as a farmer, and the way the farmer's market economy works. 

Regardless of which farm the produce was grown on, you can be fairly certain it was a small farm. I've yet to meet a farmer at the market whose produce came from a giant corporate grower. 

If you're curious, feel free to ask the farmer about where and how all the things they offer were grown and harvested. There may be an interesting story about their uncle's farm where the blueberries come from, or the tomato blight that meant working with a cooperative network this year. Or, how this is the best peach season in a generation. Whatever the story, you'll know not only where your food came from, but something about the people and hard work that brought it to you.

And if you're shy...

I've gotten lots of great stories in my Facebook Live series at the Farmers Market. You can follow us there, and live vicariously through me! 


Recipes

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