From the Market Manager
The U.S. has the lowest costs for food in the world. It may not seem so when you check out of the grocery store, but it is. We need to be honest with ourselves and look at what we purchase when we complain about the high cost of groceries. Although junk food is food, it is pricier that if you bought potatoes instead of chips for example. Then, we also purchase cleaning supplies, paper goods, and odds and ends that stores entice us with.
Sometimes someone will say that farmers’ markets are expensive. Let’s break this down. First off, most farmers who participate in farmers’ markets are small producers when compared to the gigantic farms in the mid-West and West. They don’t have economy of scale like the big ones do. A lot of the work done on these smaller farms is done by people, not combines. Large farms also may qualify for subsidies by the USDA; small farms generally don’t.
Then, you need to consider that many of the varieties of fruit and vegetables that you find at a farmers’ market may not be in a grocery store because they’re too fragile to make the long trip. It is said that the food on our plate travels an average of 1500 miles to us (exclusive of our locally grown/raised food.)
Vendors who participate in farmers’ markets are generally local although definition of local varies from place to place. Some markets say that within 100 miles qualifies as local, while others will say that it is less than that.
Purchasing locally grown or raised food helps the local economy. The money you spend goes to a local person who most likely spends most of their money locally.
Fun Evening Coming up
Do you like improvisation comedy? A special performance by Phantom Sheep is coming to the Jewish Community Center on Thursday July 27th at 7PM. The cost is $8 at the door/$5 students. This will be comedy created right before your eyes. The J is located at 1160 Dickinson Street in Springfield. Park in back.
This ‘n’ That
Take a ride up to Maple Corner Farm’s blueberry patch, West Granville Blueberries. You can get directions at their stand. It’s a nice ride on Rte. 57. When you see the Prospect Mtn. Campground sign, you take the next right; there is a sign.
Many of you liked the products that Crimson Lion brought to our market. Of course by now you have realized that they aren’t at our market anymore. Because I knew that they weren’t coming this year, I asked Jessica at Maple Corner Farm to make lots of salsa last summer. All of her relishes, and other items are made with local products.
If you have cookbooks you no longer want, bring them to the market and put them in the blue bin at the market table.
If you go camping, buy whatever wood you may need near where you are camping; don’t bring any from home. Sometimes destructive insects can live in the wood, and by bringing it from elsewhere, you could be spreading the problem.
Don’t forget to check out the free Fridays at museums and locations throughout the Commonwealth this summer. Highlandstreet.org for all of the details. This week the offerings are:
• JFK Presidential Library & Museum, Boston
• Commonwealth Museum, Boston
• Arnold Arboretum, Boston
• The Eric Carle Museum, Amherst
• Berkshire Theatre Group, Stockbridge
• Historic Deerfield, Deerfield
• Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis
• Wenham Museum, Wenham
• Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston
Did you know that you can listen to some Tanglewood concerts on the radio, or online? Check it out.
It’s almost gazpacho season. I wait to make it until all of the ingredients are local. Soon, soon.
This year we have peaches and the season has just started. Last year the Northeast had almost none due to an extended period of sub-normal temperatures in February that killed the buds on the trees.
This year looks to be a good year for them and apples as well. I know that many of you have heard me say what I am going to write next, but it bears repeating every year because to me this is the essence of why a native peach is superior to any other kind. When my now 19 year-old grandson Evan was 5, he was at my house and I gave him a peach that I had purchased from Outlook Farm at our market 2 days earlier. When I picked his brother up from school I brought him to my house and offered him a peach which he refused. Evan said, “Alex, you should have one. You can smell the inside from the outside.” I remember that as if it were yesterday because what he said sums up the flavor of native peaches.
Not Farmers’ Market Related, but Important
Every so often when I read an obituary of a youngish person who has died, contributions to an education fund are requested for the decedents’ young children. That tells me that if they had any life insurance, it wasn’t enough. If you have people dependent on you, you need to think about protecting them should you die. It isn’t IF you die, it’s WHEN.
I was widowed very young, and our children were 5, 9, and 10. My husband had more insurance than most men his age, but it wasn’t enough for the long haul. I don’t mean that you have to have enough insurance to cover every eventuality, but you should think about what losing your financial contribution (or in the case of a parent who is at home with children the cost to replace your services), plus final expenses, would be.
People are living longer, and medical conditions that used to be rated are often not these days, so life insurance has gotten less expensive. I always say that if your family doesn’t have to worry about money at the same time that they are grieving your loss, you will have given them a great gift. Don’t put it off; no-one can predict the future. Ask for a referral from a friend or relative to an insurance agent, and go from there.
You know what else is important? A will, a letter of instruction, a health care proxy, a list of your bank accounts and everything else that is important. Don’t make your family search all over for important papers.
You can use blueberries or apples also. If you use nectarines or plums, you don’t have to peel them first.
You can combine peaches and blueberries also. I peel the peaches first.
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup cold butter (one stick)
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
1 cup rolled oats (oatmeal)
4 cups sliced fresh peaches
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Arrange peaches evenly in an 8 x8” baking dish Mix flour, sugar, butter cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and mix well until even crumbled. (I use my food processor and pulse it.)
Bake in the preheated oven until topping is lightly browned, about 30 minutes. This can be doubled for a 9 x 13” dish.
This would be superb with Trinity Farm’s whipped heavy cream.
Red Pepper and Peach Relish
6 chopped, peeled peaches
6 sweet red peppers, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 lemon, cut in half
1 ½ cups cider vinegar
3 cups granulated sugar
1. In large pot, combine peaches, peppers, lemon and vinegar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until peaches and peppers are tender, about 20 minutes.
2. Discard lemon.
3. Add sugar; return to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook stirring often for about 40 minutes until thickened.
4. Pour into hot 1-cup jam canning jars, leaving ½” headspace. Wipe the rims and assemble the lids to finger tight. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes; remove from water, remove the ring, and let stand for 24 hours and test the lid to make sure it has the proper seal.
5. OR, if you want to freeze this, you don’t have to use canning jars, just put it in the freezer the next day after it has completely cooled off.
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