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One Happy Localvore

May 10th, 2009

I’m one happy localvore. Why?
I went to the farmer’s market yesterday morning. It was a beautiful morning, in the high 60’s and overcast.
There were a lot of plants for sale this week, I think a total of 4 vendors were selling all different kinds of plants; veggies, perennials, annuals, herbs, trees and shrubs.
I bought some euphorbia that I’ve been looking for and I bought a plum tree from Mr Vincent.
Mr Vincent has an apple orchard and sells apples and other fruit all season long at the market. This plum tree is an offspring of one of the old plum trees on his farm (he even had some photos of his old tree). He says they’re some of the best juicy plums you can find, I bought some from him last summer and they were quite tasty!
There were also a lot of baked goods and crafts for sale, as well as soaps and lotions.
So what else did I buy? Some apples and some delicious baby radishes. I also got a bar of olive oil soap, I can’t wait to try it. I was surprised that I didn’t see any lettuce for sale at the market, since it’s such a quick and easy crop.
I love going to the market, I really don’t need to buy veggies because I grow a lot of my own, but I love supporting local people that are growing things for the community. I encourage you to head on down to your local farmer’s market (or several) and buy a few things from the vendors. In this way you can strengthen your local food system and let the farmers know that people are interested in buying the things they grow!

What kinds of things are sold at your local farmer’s market?

A Day at the West Side Market in Cleveland

January 17th, 2009

Yesterday, Mr Chiots had a meeting in Cleveland, so I took advantage and tagged along so I could go to the West Side Market.

The WEST SIDE MARKET, Cleveland’s oldest publicly owned market, began in 1840 when JOSIAH BARBER and RICHARD LORD gave OHIO CITY (CITY OF OHIO) a tract of land at the corner of Pearl (W. 25th) and Lorain streets with the stipulation that it always be kept as a public market site. Additional gifts of land enabled the marketplace to expand, and in 1868 the wooden, 1-story Pearl St. Market was erected on the site. As the city’s population increased, the markethouse became inadequate. In 1902 the city purchased a site for a new market across the street from the old one. A new $680,000 markethouse designed by the firm of HUBBELL & BENES was dedicated in 1912–a massive yellow-brick building with an interior concourse providing room for 100 stalls, an outdoor arcade with 85 stands, and a large clock tower.

Going to a market like this is much different than going to a supermarket. People aren’t here to get the latest tasty boxed pre-made product made by company X. They’re here to get fresh ingredients to make delicious homemade meals.
The air is filled with respect and appreciation for good quality ingredients. The inspiration starts in the parking lot when you pull up to the beautiful old building with the big clock tower. It’s a beautiful building full of charm, just the way a market should be. No sale banners or carts in sight, just fresh food and a lot of reusable shopping bags.
It is also evidenced in the produce wing outside. All the fresh ingredients are lined up to show off their best qualities. Salesmen arrange their produce to look it’s very best, taking pride in their wares.
There were potatoes of all shapes, colors and sizes; organic garlic and onions, shallots, lettuces, and exotic things from from afar. I saw kumquats, star fruit (carambola as we called them in Colombia), lemons, limes and every other kind of citrus; along with some delicious earthy mushrooms, shiitake, portabela and a few other kinds, just waiting to me make into the mushroom bourguignon I saw on Smitten Kitchen yesterday. You’ll be able to find pretty much any ingredient you need, whether you’re making humble comfort food or an exotic ethnic dish.
Once you head inside the building, you’ll be greeting by beautiful architecture that seems to silence the hustle and bustle of the crowds below. After you’re finished admiring the building, it’s on to the stalls to see what everyone has in stock today.
You can choose from all kinds of meat not available at your neighborhood grocery store, like rabbit, goat, buffalo, ostrich (and I’m sure there are a few more); there is also the usual beef, pork and chicken galore. Any kind of smoked, cured lunchmeat or sausage can be found at the various stalls. Some apple cured bacon and ham made it into my bag.
You can buy sea creatures big and small, from fresh water lakes to the depths of the oceans; all strange looking creatures to be sure. I was hoping to buy a few things to make bouillabaisse, but I’m too busy for the next few days, so I had to leave that for my next trip.
One side of the market is filled with cheeses of all types; smoked, aged, yellow, white, green and blue. Many had odd names, but a few familiar ones could be found. You can buy fresh local milks, from pastured happy cows, along with yogurts and butters from near and far. They even had goat milk cheeses and butter from a small goat farm on the outskirts of the Cleveland. Some delicious aged provolone was a perfect match to the apple cured ham.
The bakery stalls were brimming with crusty artisan breads, bagels, cookies, cakes (even a double stout Guinness chocolate cake) and every kind of sweet confection you’ve ever dreamed of. A few rustic country baguettes were the perfect accompanyment to our ham and cheese for our lunch on the go.
Since I love to cook and use local quality ingredients this place is right up my alley, but even for the non-foodie it’s a fascinating place to visit. If you’re ever in Cleveland head on down to the West Side Market, you’ll be in for a treat.

We always try to find the local fresh markets when we’re on vacation in other parts of the country or the world. Pike Place Market is Seattle is a wonderful place, as is North Place Market in Columbus, and Findlay Market in Cincinnati. Whenever you find the local market, you’ll be in for a big treat. You may even find something exciting like the cayenne or salty caramel ice cream you can find in Columbus at Jeni’s Ice Cream.
Mr Chiots and I took these photos of the Pike Place Market in Seattle on our honeymoon 11 years ago.

Is there a market like this close you your home? Do you visit it frequently? If I’m ever in your area I’ll be sure to check it out!

The Last Farmer’s Market

November 23rd, 2008

Yesterday was the last day of the Carrollton Farmer’s Market. It was quite a frosty morning to be heading out to the outdoor market. It reminded me of Barbara Kingsolver’s (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) description of their first farmer’s market of the season when they decided to eat locally. Our car said it was 23 on our way down – BRRRR that’s some cold shopping!

I was hoping there would be some vendors there. I knew for sure Mr Vincent would be there, he never misses a week. Sure enough, he was there with the bounty from his orchard.

I bought a peck of mutsu apples for $2 and a peck of Macintosh for $6 as well and four pears for $2 made it into my reusable shopping bags.

There was one other vendor there (Out on a Limb Farm) selling heirloom beans, dried sunflowers, gourds, garlic and sage. I bought all of her dried sage (that will sure come in handy for my stuffing this week), 3 jars of heirloom beans and a few sunflowers to put outside for our feathered friends.

When I got home I put the sunflowers in one of the trees for the birds or chipmunks to enjoy.

This marks the end of the 2008 Farmer’s Market season. When I got home I emptied my bags, “The Lady with the Green Bag” as I’m called at the market will be sad to see the market end.

I guess I’ll be shopping in my pantry this winter for all of our veggies. At least I was able to preserve so many wonderful things from the market this summer.

Every time I pop open a jar of applesauce or tomatoes I’ll think about all the people at the farmer’s market that spend their time growing healthy things for us to eat.

Food Safety = Local Food

November 16th, 2008

Civil Eats had an article last week stating:

“According to a Consumer Reports poll released this week, Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about U.S. food safety, and the overwhelming majority want the government to do more to monitor the American food supply.”

“The American public wants to know more about their food, where it comes from, how safe it is, and will vote with their dollars to support highly meaningful labels,” says Urvashi Rangan, senior scientist and policy analyst at Consumers Union. “Consumers want to know that the food they buy meets the standards they expect—our poll shows that right now, that is not the case. Whether that means that ‘organic’ fish eat 100% organic feed without contamination, or that people know which meat and dairy products come from cloned or genetically engineered animals—consumers want the government to ensure safety, quality and meaning in the food marketplace.”

Do we really think we can rely on the government to keep our food system safe? I don’t think so. This is why I shop at farmer’s markets and buy my meat and dairy from a small local farm. I know exactly where my food is coming from and how well it’s being treated (while living and during slaughter). We don’t need more government regulation, we need to speak with our dollars. Shop locally, invest in your local food chain.

What do you think? Do you think government regulation will help the safety of our food system?

Statistics I Like to Hear

October 19th, 2008

Today in America there is soaring demand for local and regional food; farmers’ markets, of which the U.S.D.A. estimates there are now 4,700, have become one of the fastest-growing segments of the food market. Community-supported agriculture is booming as well: there are now nearly 1,500 community-supported farms, to which consumers pay an annual fee in exchange for a weekly box of produce through the season.

I’m doing my part to increase demand for local food. This year Mr Chiots and I started buying 80% of our food locally. We’re hoping to buy even more, some things like grains are difficult to find locally, but we do purchase them from small local bulk food stores so they’re fresher. We buy our chicken, eggs, beef and milk from Robert’s Farm (they also sell potatoes in the fall). We buy all of our produce at the farmer’s market and we try to preserve as much as we can to limit the need for buying from the grocery.

We grow some of our own veggies to further cut down on the traveling miles and environmental impact of our food. In future years we hope to grow even more of our own food as we add more and more edible plants & trees into our landscape.

What are you going to strengthen you local food supply?


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.