Monday, July 16, 2007

So Local, Even Our Artichokes are Local

Oak Park Farmer's Market - July 14, 2007

Last spring there was a brief debate on on the idea of local vs. seasonal. Someone demurred over my spring produce. It was not seasonal because it came from a greenhouse. Well, not that long ago (as his books have arrived from Amazon) I found that my guru Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall supports me. He also argues in favor of the use of hoop houses to affect and alter the notion of seasonality. Like me, he sees a difference between a bit of plastic that seals in warmth and growing in laboratories. Ground matters to us.

These kind of greenhouses allow farmers to grow year-round around here. They also allow farmers to get things to the market sooner. For instance, Genesis Growers has tomatoes now. The other thing is, technology can change what can be local. Lloyd Nicholls is somewhat famous (notorious?) amongst the farm market community for his desire to get anything to market. Not just happy with 10 types of potatoes and 39 kindas of apples; he needs pink gooseberries and Nigerian eggplants and...and..artichokes. For at least a few weeks Nicholls is bringing local artichokes to the market. I'm no purest here. (Of course I do not really like artichokes). I bought one for each of the girls. I just wish he could coax out some figs.

Eat local does seem to be everywhere. Jewel Foods and Caputo's ("the original farmers markets") advertise their localness. I have no checked out the former, but I know the latter had more local products than Whole Foods including cucumbers (2 types!), zucchini, eggplant, and apples. The apples especially impressed me as they were summer Lodi apples, a highly specialized product (sauce). The kinda thing one only expects at farmers markets.

In other Eat Local news, the Green City Market BBQ made the strong case that one eats best when one eats local. Green City is also sponsoring an Eat Local Challenge come September. The more the merrier! And trends, I sense a movement towards local fish. Several chefs at the Green City BBQ were doing things with local fish, abet farm raised fish. Regardless, National 27's farm raised perch escabeche was one of the top dishes at the Green City BBQ. While I wait for more local fish, I've expanded my supply of local meat. On Saturday I picked up my 1/2 lamb from the Wettstein's. Our freezer can barely stand it.

As I've said many a time, eating local now is easy, so ask me later. If you cannot make it to one of the many, many farmers markets, at least you can hit Jewel.

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