It’s not just about food at the farmers’ market

'The experience is always positive'

Samantha Allbritton says she’s loved farmers’ markets as long as she can remember. “I enjoy everything about them from the open-air settings to the friendly vendors beaming with pride over their bounty,” she says. “The experience is always positive and now more than ever is a great time to support local farms.”

Allbritton is a dietetics student at Georgia State University who won a scholarship to travel to Michigan and spend a couple weeks with Diana Dyer, a registered dietitian and organic farmer who we’ve written about before in EcoLink.

Samantha worked with Diana and the Dyer Family Organic Farm to learn about organic farming, sustainable food systems, and also worked with the Ecology Center during her time in Michigan.

“With dwindling access to cheap oil and massive irrigation systems, the price of our complex food system is being seen on almost every shelf of the grocery store,” she says. “By supporting local farmers’ markets and buying seasonal produce, communities can bolster their neighboring farms and keep their families healthier.”

In addition to their other benefits, farmers’ market patrons have reported an average of 12 to 15 positive interactions with fellow shoppers and vendors, compared to one or two occurring at a grocery store. “This allows for a more enjoyable and stimulating experience that facilitates meaningful time spent with family members, friends and is also especially great for seniors,” Allbritton said.

vegie polentaThe season is winding down, but whether you are interested in supporting local infrastructure and businesses, staying involved in the community or just making healthy strides for personal benefit, there are still plenty of opportunities to shop you your local farmers’ market this season. Can’t find one? Check out Realtimefarms.com.

Allbritton recommends this quick but filling meal using common farmers' market ingredients that takes only 20 minutes to prepare.

Recipe for Two-Pan Veggie Polenta

Serves 5

Pan 1 Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved and deseeded

  • 4 cups zucchini, 1” slices

  • 4 cups summer squash, ½” slices

  • 2 cups broccolini or broccoli, rough chop or to desired size

  • 1 cup green bell pepper, ½” slices

  • ¼ cup white onion, coarse chop

  • 2 garlic cloves, or more if you are adventurous, coarse chop

  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tbsp dried oregano

  • 1 tbsp dried thyme

  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Heat oil. Add vegetables. Cover until steamed to desired softness. Add garlic, seasonings and balsamic vinegar. Heat uncovered until desired flavor and doneness reached.

Pan 2 Ingredients:

  • Polenta (16 oz. tube variety works fine)

  • ¾ cup shaved Parmesan cheese

  • 5 leaves fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped2 tbsp unsalted butter or substitute of choice

  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Use medium saucepan or skillet. Heat thickly sliced polenta. Once heated, polenta will become malleable. Add butter. Stir thoroughly. Add rosemary, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Serve with vegetables while still warm.

Nutrition Information per serving:

  • Calories - 687

  • Fat – 24 g

  • Protein – 25 g

  • Carbohydrates – 97 g

  • Dietary fiber – 12 g

  • Sodium – 626 mg

EcoLink — Sept 2012 Ecolink
An online publication of the Ecology Center

Comments and questions are welcome.
Please send to EcoLink Editor.