Sunday, June 16, 2013

Find Glorious Fresh Produce at Farmers Market and Other Local Spots

There's nothing like really fresh produce, found every Saturday, all summer
long, at Provincetown's farmers market, across Ryder Street from Town Hall.
I managed to get to the farmers market this afternoon just as all the vendors were packing up. I was after some fresh strawberries, and was lucky enough to find a couple of farmers from Dartmouth, Massachusetts, still able to get to the strawberries they had already loaded into their truck for the drive home. I got some beautiful, juicy, perfectly ripe berries, at the peak of their flavor, and probably their nutritional value as well.
They had that smooth, shiny look of impeccably fresh fruit. Really fresh strawberries look different from the ones you typically find in supermarkets. They feel different, too, and they certainly taste different from fruit that has been picked before its prime and shipped across the country.
It's no secret that a lot of supermarket produce travels hundreds or thousands of miles to get to a big warehouse somewhere, and from there it's put on another truck for another ride, maybe to a regional distributor, and perhaps yet another ride before it finally gets to the supermarket. All that travel uses a lot of fuel, creates a lot of pollution, and the food loses nutrients by the minute once it is picked, so the farther it has to travel, the more nutrients are lost, and the fewer vitamins and minerals are available for your body to use once the food finally makes it all the way to your table. A lot of it also has to be picked before it's actually ripe so it won't go bad while making its cross-country journey, or worse, traveling across international borders. A lot of fruit, for example, travels from Chile to get to American supermarkets.
A much better system is to buy food grown as close to you as possible. That way it isn't harvested before it's ripe, it doesn't use a lot of fuel for delivery, and it retains more nutrients because it gets to your table so much faster.
Purple and green beans from Lucky Field Organics, about
17 miles off the cape, have been found at our farmers market.
I found a web page for the Provincetown Farmers Market that will show you some examples of what might be found at this market week by week, and if you click around a bit on the page you can read about many small farms all over the cape and beyond. I learned about a small company in Westport, MA, that's found at our farmers market each week with a variety of cheeses from three different Massachusetts farms, as well as organic olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and chocolate products from small farms in Italy. Small farmers generally offer the best foods.
Other booths at our farmers market may offer their own jams and fruit spreads, or fresh herbs, or eggs. Fresh baked goods are often available, along with, of course, all kinds of fresh produce. It's hard to predict everything that might turn up from week to week, but at this time of year you'll likely find arugula, green beans, radishes, peas, spinach, a variety of lettuces and salad greens, and strawberries, among others.
If you don't mind traveling a bit, there's a web page to show you dozens of small Cape Cod farms where you can get fresh produce, eggs, honey, dairy products, flowers and bedding plants, herbs... you name it. There are several spots where you can "pick your own" when the crop is at its peak. Later in the season you'll be able to pick blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and many others.
From Truro to PTown, these greens traveled about 7 miles.
You can also often find fresh local produce at small neighborhood markets, like Far Land Provisions, at 150 Bradford Street. They get hydroponic mixed salad greens from Hillside Farm in Truro, so the food travels only about seven miles to get here, and it could be on your table in a day or less after it's harvested.
Did you know organic eggs are produced right here in PTown? You can get those at Far Land, too. I've found local tomatoes there, and other things as they are available. They also sell Wellfleet Sea Salt, which is an all-natural and eco-friendly product, using repurposed oyster floats in its production.
Bradford Natural Market, at 141 Bradford Street, often has locally grown tomatoes and other produce. I once got some really beautiful multicolored peppers there that were so delicious that I ate them for my lunch for a couple of days, munching them down just like you would an apple.
Try eating more ultra-fresh, local produce for a week or two, and see if your body doesn't notice the difference. See you at the farmers market every Saturday till early November, in the little parking lot across Ryder Street from Town Hall.

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