Summer is a glorious time in Western Michigan. For one thing, the beach is nice and close (our weekend sunburns are still fading). But another major reason I love it is the fresh fruits and veggies that are available in abundance!
Our little town has a market on Fridays where we can get a few things. But the best market is in nearby Holland. There are lots of vendors with all types of produce and other homegrown products. And they have an awesome website if you’d like to see what I mean .
Going to a farmers’ market, you can talk with the people who actually grow the food and hear their passion for it and what (if any) chemicals they use. And if you don’t know what something is, or how to prepare it, just ask! They’re full of great suggestions. The man we bought beets from today gave me tips on roasting them in the oven. The man with sour cherries told me how his mom would store them for pie filling.
Another thing we’re hoping to get involved with is a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). These are popping up all over the country, and it’s an awesome way to eat local. Basically, it’s a farm where you purchase a share. You pay up front in the spring, and then receive vegetables (or whatever they produce) throughout the summer. Many of them you can volunteer to work at as well. Sure, there is some risk involved- if there is a drought or a freeze, you share the loss- but it supports local agriculture and gives you amazing farm fresh produce. Unfortunately, we got here too late to sign up for the CSAs in our area, but I’m going with a new friend to volunteer at one this Friday and check it out. Next year you can bet we’ll be one of the first ones registered .
Eating organic is all the rage these days, and while it is healthier for you, it isn’t always healthier for the planet. Some of the organic products you see at the grocery store have traveled hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to get to you. Eating local is better. Many local farms use organic practices but haven’t paid the money to be certified organic yet. And if you buy directly from them, you can ask!
If you’ve been around us much in the past couple years, you’ve probably heard us talk about this before. We’ve become very interested in it. To learn more about where your food comes from, and how to eat better, check out the movie, Food, Inc., and many of Michael Pollin’s Books.