One of the biggest perks of living in Los Angeles is the plethora of farmers markets. There is nothing I (Blair) love more than waking up on a Sunday morning and taking a stroll down Main Street to the Santa Monica Farmers Market. The fresh flowers and produce + the people watching all make for a perfect weekend adventure. I can pick up a few items that will contribute to many recipes for the week. Since I am still a newbie to the market scene, I decided to reach out to Kimberely Hasselbrink of The Year In Food for some creative cooking advice!
It’s a new season. Summer food is on its way out and we are all falling for fall in every way. From the sweater weather to anything apple flavored, I just can’t be more excited about autumn. We all know that pumpkin spice screams fall – but there are many fresh seasonal produce picks you can eat this time of year. Kimberely gives us a tip when exploring the farmers market: “focus on everything that’s peaking right now: apples, pears, persimmons, pomegranate, quince, leafy greens like kale and chard, and winter squash such as acorn, delicata and kabocha. I always like to ask farmers at the market what they’re eating.”
We all obviously want the freshest of the fresh and are immediately drawn to food that is in season. But why is it important to eat food that is in season? Kimberely says that “food tastes best when it’s at its peak. I’ll never understand a tomato in January. It’s a terrible, mealy, pallid thing. Food loses its nutritional value as soon as it’s harvested. So if you’re buying an apple from Chile, it’s taken a long time to get to you, and it’s likely been in storage for a while. It doesn’t taste as good and it’s not as good for you.”
I have a problem where I will buy all of my favorite fruits and veggies on Sunday and never get around to them. So a few days later, rotten fruit is sitting on my kitchen counter and that is never a good look. Plus, what a waste of money! So I asked Kimberely if there are certain fruits and vegetables I should choose that are known to last longer than others. She recommended: “Apples stay fresh in the crisper drawer of the fridge for a long time. Winter squash can hang out for months on the counter top. Quince and pomegranates will last a long time too. And sturdier leafy greens will last longer than tender ones.” Looks like you can never go wrong with getting a few Fujis!
One last question that I am faced with at the market is to choose organic or not. I always feel like I will be shunned if I go the non-organic way but sometimes I want to save some dollar bills! Kimberely’s default is always organic but she believes it definitely depends on the farmer. “A lot of farmers can’t afford the certification process but are committed to no pesticides and sustainable practices, and I feel totally confident in their commitment. It all comes down to knowing the practices of your favorite growers and making relationships with them.” So even if that means chatting with the different vendors at your local farmers market, gaining trust with the farmer is important!
Believe me, you can not stop by Kimberely’s blog without salivating. All of her recipes are absolute eye candy, especially this salad that is filled with pears and plums and this salad packed with pomegranate seeds! All you need is to pick up fresh fruit options to complete this feel good recipe. While I may be a little spoiled for being surrounded by farmers markets, check out Local Harvest to find the best organic food and markets near you!
Images via Kimberely Hasselbrink