In the spirit of Grist’s edgy-titled article that brusquely suggests sensible, consumer-based actions to promote a sustainable food system, I’m buying more food directly from farmers and ranchers while getting to know their names just like I do celebrity chefs. (Although I will always have a special place in my heart for Bobby Flay’s Throwdowns.)
Yoder’s Farm Market was recommended during a visit to A.G. Farm Market earlier in the summer. Yoder’s offered a variety of produce – onions, peppers, zucchini, peaches and potatoes – and different types of relishes, butters, and jams for purchase. Seasonal pumpkins, cornstalks, and gourds decorated the tidy stand. I picked up some peaches and then walked next door to inquire about their meat products. David Yoder welcomed me to his freezer stock of pastured proteins where I purchased a 3-lb chicken and a pound of ground beef — for $12. The whole chicken would last days, promising leftover chicken sandwiches, a high-protein salad topper, and jars of chicken stock. I recently used the ground beef for a hearty chili served over whole wheat couscous.
At Jett’s Produce stand, Farmer Thad had taken the bulk of his produce (including my beloved salad greens, which, I’m told, are his specialty) to the Lansdale Farmers’ Market. I purchased some IPM-grown apples delivered from a nearby orchard and spoke to a very helpful lady about their Pay As You Grow Program where members order from available items (which vary weekly depending on the growing season) and pick-up at the farm at certain times. Members are given “priority” and receive the cream of the crop, literally. (I think that’s the fist time I legitimately used that cliche in reference to farming and food.) It’s an enticing alternative to community supported agriculture (CSA) where each member receives a standard share of produce each week and often pay a significant amount upfront to help cover costs for the farmer. Personalizing the weekly share and paying only a fraction of the cost upfront ($25) sounds like another great option to acquire local and seasonal food. I just may have found this winter’s answer to farm fresh greens.
As a volunteer at the Skippack Farmers’ Market, not only do I get a leg up on vendor features and specials, I get to share my love for local food while getting to know the people who grow it. I’ve turned a few folks on to the LocalHarvest web site, shared recipes incorporating seasonal foods, and answered questions about the upcoming winter market. Recently, I left with two large chicken breasts from Nitya at Woodsong Hollow Farm, who raises pastured, antibiotic-free, “happy” chickens and turkeys. I promptly baked the chicken in a rub of homemade tomato basil pesto. Sadly, my backyard basil is now depleted; insatiable insects ravaged the leaves foiling my plan to freeze the superfluous herb for winter use. But it looks like I have some neighbors that can provide some delicious substitutes and thensome – thank you Farmer Thad, David Yoder and Nitya!