June 11, 2012

Season brings variety of local goods

Farmers markets are the epitome of local food, and they are opening all over the North Country.

Adirondack Harvest’s annual tally of regional markets now tops out at 62. That’s up more than 25 percent from last year and nearly 40 percent from 2010. Increasing the size and number of markets is a tricky mix of supply and demand, but both sides have had amazing forward momentum over the past decade. More consumers are demanding local food and more farmers have stepped up to provide that food.

Why do we love the markets so much? They are more than just a place to shop; they’re an experience for all your senses. See the vibrant colors of the vegetables and flowers. Smell the freshly baked pastries and just-picked herbs. Hear the chatter of the crowds as they make their way down the aisle, catching up with neighbors and vendors after a long winter. Taste samples offered by farmers and food vendors — local products are bursting with flavor. Touch the myriad textures of perennial plants or the different skins of vegetables. You can’t help but feel exhilarated as you get out of your house and into the fresh air to indulge in our region’s spring bounty.

Our farmers are working hard to bring you as large a variety of products as possible in the early season. Many have season-extension equipment (such as hoophouses and row covers) to push the early crops into perfect ripeness for the May and J

une markets.

In June, be on the lookout for strawberries, late asparagus, rhubarb, scallions, spring greens, salad mix, spinach, spring-harvested parsnips and early herbs such as chives and mint.

Think salad greens are just lettuce? Talk to your farmer about the varieties in some of the mixes. Arugula gives a marvelous spicy kick to salads. Other distinct flavors can be found in mache, mustards, purslane, amaranth, tatsoi and mizuna.

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