TIP: Farmer’s Markets

Farmer’s Markets are a no-brainer for eating clean, right? Besides the fact that most participants are organic growers, there’s something cool about buying straight from the source, like Ha’s Apple Farm, which has the best Asian Pears.

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Plus, there’s the sense of discovery in running across some interesting seasonal produce you might not otherwise know about. For years, though, the only markets in Orange were held on weekdays, and I can’t make a nine-to-noon market on a Wednesday! I work!

We did trek out to the Great Park Farmer’s Market once, where they even had a little car show! My ’48 Bondorella went home with a best of show and I got some fabulous purple carrots… but to be honest, we’re usually pretty lazy on Saturday mornings, and hoped to someday have a farmer’s market closer to home.

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And guess what? Last year, it happened!

OHG-Lgpic-254x300The Orange Farmers and Artisans Market is exactly what we’d hoped for and  my feller and I make a point to roll out of bed and go, rain or shine, every Saturday. Beyond getting our produce for the week, there’s a great sense of fun, with live music, food trucks, free coffee, and lots of friendly people.

Some of the things we like to buy:

BREAD:

I know for Paleo and gluten free eaters, wheat is an enemy, but I like having whole grains in my diet. I believe in balance. However, most store bought bread is loaded with additives, so I buy bread at the farmer’s market, usually from Grampy Pat, a sourdough master who makes a delicious malty whole grain using, his 128-year-old Alaskan starter, King Arthur flour, 7 grains & malt flour, water, and salt.

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Besides making great bread, he’s a heck of a nice guy, and it’s a joy buying a handcrafted product from someone who remembers you week-to-week. (I stole this picture of Grampy Pat hard at work from my feller, Brian. I was too caught up in the food to shoot pics… )

grapmy

MEAT:

Grass fed, organic meats, straight from the guys who own the ranch.

20130202-113956.jpgMind you, it’s not cheap. But it’s also not filled with hormones and saline and pink slime and other creepy additives. Plus, it tastes fantastic.

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We made some super flavorful tacos using this, some pasilla and hatch chilles, onion, and, of course, Brian’s homemade tortillas.

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PRODUCE:

As for the veggies, you buy what’s in season at a farmer’s market, not what some food scientist created in a lab in order to have year-round abundance of anything and everything, so you’ve got to be flexible and try what’s available. Kind of exciting, eh? This week we’re trying a Kabucha squash, which we’ve never made, and some vibrant purple sweet potatoes, along with Brian’s new favorite vegetable, beets.

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I’ve known my guy twenty years and the list of foods he doesn’t like is very, very short–and beets were always near the top of the creepy food list (along with goat cheese… go figure)–but then I roasted some for him and now he absolutely loves them. See? Flexibility. Now if I can only get him to like goat cheese…

I also picked up some lemons since I’m mostly a water drinker, and like to add a little flavor with lemon or cucumber. My mom was way ahead of her time raising us without soda, and (thankfully) I never developed a taste for it. I do occasionally drink ice tea, and I have coffee in the morning, but other than that, it’s all water. Lovely lemony water.

But back to the veggies. We roasted the squash and the beets tonight with a little coconut oil and sea salt. If you like butternut squash, you’ll love the Kabucha. Sweet. Creamy. And a dynamic shade of orange.

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Later in the week I’ll bake the purple sweet potatoes and let you know how they are. (p.s. not fantastic mashed. A bit too sweet and gummy. Maybe baked?)

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Along with bread, meat, and produce, we also get our coffee and eggs at the market, and depending on what we find, plan the meals ahead accordingly. Kinda like a scavenger hunt with colorful food. I mean, what’s prettier than a beet?

So hit your farmer’s market, branch out, and have a little fun. If you don’t know of a market close to you in the OC, check out this link to a list of Orange County Farmer’s Markets!

Until next time, when I post a recipe for a melt-in-your-mouth strawberry bread using masa flour, wheat flour, and overripe strawberries we totally forgot we bought from the farmer’s market two weeks ago…

Later Gators!

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