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Expand Your Culinary Options: Ask a Farmer

Written by Jamie Ferschinger
    Wednesday, 02 March 2016
Expand Your Culinary Options: Ask a Farmer

When I was a freshman in college, my Saturday running path led me right past a farmer’s market. Each week I observed patrons in the market, coffee cups in hand, canvas bags hanging on their shoulders, conversing with friends, neighbors or farmers, seemingly having a pleasant time.

This was my first impression of the connection people could have to really fresh food. At that time in my gustatory path, I ate uninspired dorm food – cereal at least two meals a day, some over-steamed vegetables and iceberg lettuce salads.

When my dorm time ended I had to make culinary choices for the first time in my life.

My mother and grandmothers set a solid foundation in me; eat good food and cook it yourself. I began by cooking a myriad of pasta dishes. I knew that at some point I should explore the world beyond pasta – but how? The answer - talk to the farmers at the market!

Armed with a newly acquired canvas bag, I embarked on my maiden voyage to the farmer’s market where I walked around touching a few things and smiling pleasantly. It was possible that I fooled people into believing that I was familiar with chard, fennel and kohlrabi, but I was totally unsure of what I would do with vegetables I was not used to seeing at the grocery store. Upon seeing a sign that read “farm fresh eggs” I was immediately relieved – something totally familiar that I could confidently buy while exchanging pleasantries with the farmers who raised them. I took my purchase and walked home as a newly initiated farmer’s market patron.

I returned every week and became more and more adventurous with my food choices. It has been the local farmers whom I’ve grown to know over time who have helped me define my view of food. A year after I started visiting the farmer’s market, I became a Community Supported Agriculture member – a food purchasing model in which individuals purchase food shares of a local farm for a season and receive a box of fresh farm produce weekly or biweekly.

Growing and eating food is both primal and personal. While my diet has a direct link to my health, my diet is also inextricably linked to the health of our planet. Eating a whole foods diet has become extremely important to me and since I don’t grow all of my own food it is important to me that I know some of the farmers who do – farmers who are stewards of their soil, who know their produce, who don’t use chemicals. I find so much value in having these farmers in my community.

LFOH 16 blog graphic

Have you ever explored the world of fresh, local food? One way to start is at our Local Farmer Open House on Saturday, March 12th. Come and meet farmers who sell to our community and learn how you can support them through Community Supported Agriculture. We’ll also have workshops that explore cooking with unfamiliar vegetables. See you there!

Photo Credit: Dennis Brekke (www.flickr.com/photos/dbrekke/181937380)
Jamie Ferschinger

Jamie Ferschinger

With a Bachelor's degree in Biology and Communications and a Master's degree in Conservation Biology, Jamie brings a wealth of experiences and deep passion to her work at the Urban Ecology Center. As Branch Manager of the Riverside Park Branch, she helps to ensure that things are running smoothly and everybody is happy! Outside of work, Jamie enjoys running when the sun is coming up, spending time outside, cooking, listening to music and traveling to new places.

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