Tag Archives: farmer’s market

Do you know your baker?

Everyone needs a good baker in their life. Especially, if you live on the farmers market diet, and you’re a guy. For some reason, dudes need, not like, but NEED bread on a regular basis. Maybe it’s the higher muscle mass or something, but (most) girls simply don’t care about bread.

For me, it’s huge, and I have my own baker. His name is Gunther and every week at the market I meet his wife Dawn or their friend Eddie. I have a standing order with them, two croissants and a loaf of their finest, that I pick up every Saturday at my farmers market.

By the way, no one within 50 miles makes a better croissant (trust me, I’ve tried a lot of places). I asked Dawn about this and she told me that Gunther sticks to his European recipes. He likes to make things the right way. In this case, it means the croissant should be flaky and have a crunchy sour/bitterness to it.

She told me that, at first, nobody agreed with him because nobody makes it that way. Then, as he perfected the recipe and they all tried it, they were instantly fans. Me, too, and I think the whole market agrees as well. They sell out every week!

This is one of the best parts about regularly shopping at a farmers market. You get on a first-name basis with your farmers and bakers. You hear their stories and learn about their lives and families, and they learn about yours. It brings back that sense of community that most feel is slowly fading into the past.

It’s simply another benefit of living a low-carbon, farmers market lifestyle. And, if you’re ever in Orange County stop by the market or visit Dawn, Eddie, and Gunther at their shop, the Bread Gallery.

**P.S. — They also make the best sandwich for 50 miles, but that’s for another post

 

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Is it possible to only shop at farmers markets?

With so many benefits to shopping at farmers markets, is it possible skip supermarkets altogether and only shop at farmers markets?

It is, and I have been doing so for 3 years. I remember thinking that I couldn’t possibly find everything I needed. Maybe one meal’s worth, but all three? everyday?

Yep, it’s possible and the benefits are extraordinary. I spend less money, eat much better, my health is actually improving (I’m losing the fat!), and I have become part of a community. I know my bread-lady, meat-man, old-school Italian (he says to me: “hello-uh big-uh boy”), the avocado savant, and even a Mexican cactus farmer.

The variety of foods at the farmers market is quite deep, so deep that it will take you months to explore all of them. There is no lack of possibilities for feeding yourself. This makes three meals a day easy. The only snag is that while you know how to make Mac n’ Cheese, you probably don’t know what to do with Chard. There is a learning curve but most people seem to enjoy that part of it.

Next, is cost. If you compare, item to item, the food at the farmers market is more expensive than the supermarkets. But, if you compare value (i.e. nutrition) then the farmers market is an extreme bargain.

The easiest way to explain this is think of foods considered to be of very little nutritional value, like popcorn. You can eat a whole jumbo popcorn and still feel hungry. Popcorn is food and a vegetable but it doesn’t contain enough of the vitamins and essential nutrients our bodies need. Yet, it is extremely cheap to buy at the supermarket. Think of farmers markets as the exact opposite. The foods sold there are designed to be jam-packed with vitamins and essential nutrients. So much so, that you get full really quickly. I often find myself eating half of what I used, sometimes one-fourth.

When you’re buying half as much as you used to, or even one-fourth, the amount you spend drops pretty fast. This is hardest part for folks to understand. Always at the farmers market I see people shocked at the prices and I just want to stop them and say “it’s quality not quantity.”

That is especially true when it comes to our health. When you put less food in your body, you lose weight. When you put higher quality food in your body, your health improves. Oh, and higher quality food tastes better too. I could talk for hours about the impact this has on how I look, but suffice it to say, I’m in the best shape of my life.

Depending on the size of your local farmers market, there are some things you won’t be able to find. Coffee is the most obvious one, so is chocolate and tea. For specialty items like these I shop at my local health store. They tend to stock higher quality, more nutritious products (though nowhere near the quality at the farmers market).

Lastly, is the winter stores. There are still plenty of things to buy during the winter, even in especially cold regions. In fact, a large part of French and German cooking is about cooking things sold only in the winter (French Onion Soup, mmm!). But, sometimes you just want a tasty watermelon or juicy pear in January. This is easily solved by creating your winter stores. Buy your favorites at the farmers market when they are going out of season and on sale for steep discounts. Cut them up into squares, freeze them, and don’t let anyone touch until the depths of winter.

These are the important things to know when making the switch to an all farmers market diet. Everything else you can learn at the market, from buyers and farmers. You can ask them anything, about quality or how to cook, and they will answer. That’s why they sell at the market and not the supermarket. They’re part of the rising sub-culture dedicated to ideal health and amazing food. Go ahead, make the switch and see what happens!

 

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What does Zero Waste mean?

I’m the radical sitting next to you. I do things the American populace would consider crazy and yet nobody seems to notice. I slide by without a peep from the authorities. What am I talking about?

I live a completely Zero Waste lifestyle. It’s hard to believe and you should see the reactions I get from others. Everyone goes wide-eyed, then the judging starts, and the skepticism. I don’t look like a radical, I’m not tied to a tree or wearing hemp clothes. I’m just an average looking guy.

To explain all this let’s start with what Zero Waste means. The concept isn’t about throwing things away, like most think, it’s about sustainability and recycling. We are all consumers and will continue to be, and the goal isn’t to get rid of consumption but to modify it. To create a system where everything we use ends up someplace other than a landfill.

Largely, this means recycling the hell out of everything, and a lot can be recycled. In fact, one of the most powerful things you can do right now is go look up your trash company’s rules for recycling. I guarantee you will find new things to recycle. In the world of waste, the trash companies are, generally speaking, the most advanced green groups you will find.

It’s such a simple move and yet so powerful, which helps because the next step is the hardest thing you will have to do. Eat better. I’m serious. As a man obsessed with trash I can tell you that the majority of our waste comes from our food. It’s also true that the more waste you create the worse you are eating.

After all, a McDonald’s happy meal comes with like 16 things to throw away, while a homemade sandwich with an apple create very little waste. An obvious comparison but you will find that as you dig into this, eating healthier and healthier, it just gets better…and tastier, cheaper, greener, more social, and more interesting.

Don’t take my word for it, just go out and try it. It will be one of the greatest things you ever do and also get you nearly to Zero Waste. Give it some time and you will reduce your waste by 90% or more. After that, all that is left is a lot of minor things. Like finding a restaurant that serves healthy food in recyclable containers or where can buy a recyclable toothpaste tube.

That’s it, pretty simple and yet so radical. Like I said in the beginning, I don’t look weird but I am possibly the weirdest person you know. I’ve been trying this stuff for three years now and I’m not living in a treehouse yet. I blend in completely with the normal folk and yet I’m a citizen of the future. I live in a sustainable way in a normal American household. Now if we can only get 300 million people to try this…

 

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Farmers markets continue strong growth – 10% this year, 151% this decade

In the past few years, the USDA has started paying more attention to farmers markets. They now conduct a yearly survey asking all market managers in the country to stand up and be counted:

 

It’s safe to say that farmers markets are booming. They have more than doubled in the past decade (151% growth), and show strong growth every year:

  • 2011 – 17%
  • 2010 – 16%
  • 2009 – 13%
  • 2008 – 7%
  • 2006 – 18%

For reference, there were 36,569 supermarkets in the U.S. in 2011.

 

Couple starts backyard garden – now growing for farmers markets in Beverly Hills

Is it possible to turn a passion for home gardening into a career growing for farmers markets? Such is the hope of Jennifer Little and James Imhoff, who gave up successful jobs to start Little Farm Fresh in their San Gabriel yard. They have gained a cult following for their unusual heirloom produce, including cape gooseberries, Black Cobra chiles and Richmond Green Apple cucumbers, and believe that their goal — “spending time together doing what we love” — is within sight.

They met as high school sweethearts in Palmdale 19 years ago and stuck together after he was injured in a car accident. A decade ago they bought a home a few blocks from the San Gabriel Mission, and Little attended Los Angeles Trade Technical College. She became a pattern maker for a local wedding dress designer, Camille DePedrini, while he worked his way up to be lead stage manager for Sunset Bronson Studios.

But his health suffered as the job forced him to work up to 100 hours a week, and she longed to spend more time outside in the garden. Two years ago they started offering their garden’s bounty with a small delivery service. Still, it was only after a stroke of luck — a horse in which they had just bought a share, TJ’s Passion, won its first race at Golden Gate Fields — that they felt inspired to take a risk.

 

Keep reading to learn how they finally arrived - “Two years ago we were digging up the lawn in our San Gabriel yard, and now we’re selling in Beverly Hills”

L.A. Times - Market Watch: Passion for gardening leads to Beverly Hills

 

 

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2011 Mandzik-Senger Christmas Farm Spectacular

A German Christmas Eve

  • Bratwurst Sausage
  • Blaukraut (sauerkraut with red cabbage)
  • Bundt cake (“bundt” is derived from the German Bundkuchen)

The City Diner Breakfast

  • Coffee
  • Eggs with Potatoes
  • Flapjacks
  • Breakfast sausage or bacon
  • Butter (regular for me, soy butter for everybody else)
  • Maple Syrup with Cinnamon
  • Sliced Apples

Chesapeake Christmas Dinner

  • Fish with Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower Soup
  • Salad (greens, apples/pears, nuts, feta)
  • Bundt Cake

I'm off supermarkets (and all farmers market) (13 pics)

Two years ago (Sep, 09) I took an insane leap of faith and went completely off supermarkets. I was on a quest to find the healthiest food available and farmers markets were increasingly fitting the bill. My supermarket at the time, Whole Foods, was considered to offer superior food but was mostly overcharging me for inferior food.

The food at the farmers market was cheaper and tasted better, but I was only buying select items. It wasn’t accounting for my main meals everyday. So I cut the cord and said goodbye to processed, packaged foods, and refrigerated produce.

I figured I would last a week and run starving back to Whole Foods.

The world I encountered was so different from what I expected. Peaches that were so filling I could skip a meal. Desserts that I couldn’t over-eat and had to save for later. Items called “seconds” that cost pennies to the dollar only because they needed to be eaten right away.

I was hooked. My worries quickly faded away and the weeks turned into months. Now, here I am years later and still enthralled. The food varies each week but is always filling and tasty.

Below is a photo-sample of this weeks purchases. Enjoy!

And, if you are thinking of trying out farmers markets, or even getting off supermarkets, I give you a virtual high-five. It will be the best decision you ever make.

Jalapeños, super hot. They use to be green, but turn red as they dry. When dry they flake and can be used for spicing it up.

 

Staggered avocado bag. Each one ripens at a different time in the week.
Country White and Cheese.
Watermelon is almost gone and super cheap ($3)
Bean sprouts.
Easy to cook (3 mins) and doesn't need sauce, just a few cut-up vegetables, cheese.
Concord grapes.
3 for $10
BBQ the corn. Dip the broccoli in the hummus.
Perfect for quesadillas and pasta
For meatball sandwiches.
The honey is for making ice cream.
The old-school italian farmer said three of these (dried Jujubes) every morning keeps you regular.

I’m off supermarkets (and all farmers market) (13 pics)

Two years ago (Sep, 09) I took an insane leap of faith and went completely off supermarkets. I was on a quest to find the healthiest food available and farmers markets were increasingly fitting the bill. My supermarket at the time, Whole Foods, was considered to offer superior food but was mostly overcharging me for inferior food.

The food at the farmers market was cheaper and tasted better, but I was only buying select items. It wasn’t accounting for my main meals everyday. So I cut the cord and said goodbye to processed, packaged foods, and refrigerated produce.

I figured I would last a week and run starving back to Whole Foods.

The world I encountered was so different from what I expected. Peaches that were so filling I could skip a meal. Desserts that I couldn’t over-eat and had to save for later. Items called “seconds” that cost pennies to the dollar only because they needed to be eaten right away.

I was hooked. My worries quickly faded away and the weeks turned into months. Now, here I am years later and still enthralled. The food varies each week but is always filling and tasty.

Below is a photo-sample of this weeks purchases. Enjoy!

And, if you are thinking of trying out farmers markets, or even getting off supermarkets, I give you a virtual high-five. It will be the best decision you ever make.

Jalapeños, super hot. They use to be green, but turn red as they dry. When dry they flake and can be used for spicing it up.

 

Staggered avocado bag. Each one ripens at a different time in the week.
Country White and Cheese.
Watermelon is almost gone and super cheap ($3)
Bean sprouts.
Easy to cook (3 mins) and doesn't need sauce, just a few cut-up vegetables, cheese.
Concord grapes.
3 for $10
BBQ the corn. Dip the broccoli in the hummus.
Perfect for quesadillas and pasta
For meatball sandwiches.
The honey is for making ice cream.
The old-school italian farmer said three of these (dried Jujubes) every morning keeps you regular.

Am I a Crunchie Hipster or the New Urban Norm?

So there I am, in the kitchen, eating a Dupont Farmer’s Market carrot with some “Maryland-style” hummus I made at home. I proceed to throw the carrot top in the compost jar in the freezer, wash my hands with a locally made bar of soap (not an exotically scented bottle of liquid soap) which just happens to be sitting next to my reusable mug I carry with me every trip to Starbucks. I pour myself a glass of DC’s finest tap water, then blow my nose in a hanky. I walk upstairs where our freshly washed laundry is hang-drying from our glass catwalk to deposit the hanky in our eco-water saver laundry machine, then I walk back downstairs, remove my phone from our portable solar panel charger, grab my kindle from my backpack which I take religiously everywhere so I don’t need throwaway bags, put my backpack in the closet next to my bike helmet which I’m wearing a lot more since I no longer have my car in the city and rely on my bike to get me where I need to go, and have a seat on the couch to read The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying while drinking a cup of warm Yogi Lemon Ginger tea.

And I think to myself, “I’m such a crunchie hipster!”

Or am I?

Before @robotchampion (and A Clean Life), I did none of these things. Give up my car? I LOVE heated leather seats in the winter. Shop at a farmer’s market on a Sunday morning? I was a notorious Harris Teeter, late evening Tuesday shopper, buying lots premade, packaged everything. Bring a recyclable mug to Starbucks? That just means I have to carry it around and wash the grody thing out. But I did all of these things, and more, and it hasn’t been an impediment on my lifestyle. It’s just required some simple changes in habits.

I don’t think I’m all that unique. I know tons of people who don’t have cars, who compost at home (even if they live in the city), who shop at farmer’s markets and who think bottled water is a joke (I highly recommend watching TAPPED). I have to wonder if my way of living isn’t such an extraordinary extremity as it is a market correcting itself from an ungodly and unnecessary level of waste and inefficiency.

So tell me: am I part of the new urban norm or just another crunchie hipster?