What's fresh at the market?
Sprouts--alfalfa or broccoli or radish--a nutritious "crunch with a kick" for topping just about anything. Spinach--lush and dense and grown in real dirt, under real sunlight. Not the paper-thin, hydroponic leaves of the type generally available at the grocery store this time of year.
One of our favorite local markets, just down the road and around the corner from us, is Country Side Produce. These farmers always manage to surprise their regular customers with something new. We stop in for happy hen eggs, jersey-milk yogurt and cheese and we find little bags of freshness, so unexpected yet so welcomed in these snowy and cold winter months. In December, we gave up on seeing anything but squash, potatoes and garlic - when suddenly there appeared greens of a variety that are (as the owner explained) grown right there on the farm and able to withstand a freeze or two. Then, just as suddenly, they were gone. No apology for the short supply. No promise of more. A few weeks later, spinach appeared and it, too, disappeared quickly. This week we have sprouts, and baskets of sweet, juicy organic citrus from California (okay, not local, but a taste of sunshine and worth every penny.) Today, there were jugs of maple syrup made at a nearby farm.
Sure we can go to the supermarket and get any thing we want, any time we want it. But this is more fun, probably more nutritious, and it definitely tastes better. We eat what's in season and what's available. We know who grows our food and how they grow it. By doing this, we support our local economy and our neighbors in the process.
Upstate New York winters are snowy and gray. But with local farmers who are willing to be creative and productive for their devoted customers, this year we have some green (and orange) mixed in.