Saturday, May 8, 2010

Talking Shop

My palms were sweating, I had bags under my eyes from the excitement that prevented me from sleeping the night before, and my heart was pounding out of my chest. We were enroute to the first farmer's market of the season!

The Woodstock Farmer's Market is my first every year. It opens a little earlier in the year than most. It's also arguably my favorite because all of the vendor's must produce their goods locally. While that sounds like a given, it's not so. Crystal Lake's Farmer's Market is a blend, and you really have to be an educated shopper and ask a lot of questions if you're a locavore-in-training.

Early in the season, pickin's are often slim. Usually the offerings are limited to plantlings and flowers, soaps, honey, breads and other not-so-seasonal items. If you're lucky and you get there early enough, you can snag the limited vegetable selection. So despite the 39*F, rainy weather, the kids and I ventured out on our hunt!

At the market this week, I scored:
  • Jersey asparagus

  • Butterkase cheese

  • 2 dozen free-range large eggs

  • 1/2 lb pasture-raised Canadian bacon

  • bunch french radish (organic)

  • spinach (organic)

  • lettuce (organic)

  • tart cherry preserves

One of my favorite aspects of the market is you can chat with the farmers about how their crops are growing and compare it to your home garden. In my experience, the farmers are always happy to talk shop. Ask them about bugs, or plant varieties, or any other gardening questions you have and I guarantee you'll leave the market with information more valuable that whatever dollar amount you spent. Also, if you're trying to find a particular local food that they don't offer, there is a good chance they know someone who produces it. Thanks to my discussions with some farmers this week, I learned some tips on growing asparagus, located a few additional raw milk sources, and was invited to an upcoming open house at one of the local farms! Make it a goal to make the acquaintance of one new farmer each week.

Here are some other farmer's markets in Mchenry Country.

Here you can search for farmer's markets in your local area, wherever that may be!

1 comment:

  1. Made this soup last night. Very Yummy! I was thinking about how much even greater this soup is going to be during peak corn season toward the end of summer! Can't wait!