We're guessing that just about anyone who's ever shopped at a farmers' market has experienced the joy of bringing home gorgeous, fresh, locally grown produce only to, about a week later, feel the guilt of having let it go to waste because they simply didn't have the time or energy or inspiration to do anything with it.
Which is a shame, because not only do farmers' markets help promote sustainability and support the local economy, but they increase access to fresh, nutritious food for everyone (including, in many cases, people receiving SNAP and WIC assistance).
Rather than forego what can be a fun and very positive summer and fall tradition, here are some ways to make the most of your farmers' market experience.
Start small and safe: If you're not a regular visitor, or you don't really experiment much in the kitchen, hold off on buying mass quantities of anything or produce that looks exotic and interesting but you're not sure how to prepare it. Sure, that rainbow chard is a show-stopper but what does one do with it? (You could always try this.) Instead, go with what you know, and only buy how much you can realistically use over a few days – some heirloom tomatoes for a BLT, perhaps, or radishes to eat with butter from a local creamery.
But don't be afraid to ask: If something catches your eye and you really want to try it, just ask. Food producers are passionate about their products and they want to get you excited, too. They are often happy to offer free samples or engage you in a conversation about their food. They may even provide recipe suggestions.
Mix and match: If you do wound up with leftovers, think about how you can combine them to create a healthy meal. Zucchini, corn, eggplant, and beans can be thrown into a pot with other items to make great summer vegetable stew. Farm fresh eggs can be whisked with peppers and greens like spinach and kale for a delicious omelet. You can top pizza or pasta with all of the above… and, of course, tomatoes and herbs go with just about anything.
Share the wealth: Another way to use up farmers' market produce is to give it away. Maybe a friend or neighbor can't get out to the farmers' market but they still long for the fresh flavors of summer – that tomato you need to use or lose might just make their day.
For more information about helping seniors living full and healthy lives, please contact Home Instead Senior Care of Central Oregon at 541-330-6400.
Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.
Each Home Instead Senior Care franchise is independently owned and operated.