“Farmers Markets are a great way to find local produce and artisan food products while also connecting with your community. The importance of supporting local farmers while enjoying the benefits of fresh, healthful local produce cannot be overstated.” says Mike Geller from Mike’s Organic Delivery based in Stamford, CT.
Spring is here and it is time for local farmers markets to pop up in your neighborhood. Farmers markets are not just a great way to buy fresh local fruits and vegetables, local bakery and dairy products, interesting jams, jellies and honey. Farmers markets are also an easy way for seniors to be social by providing an informal venue to interact with residents, neighbors and local farmers in your area. Call your local STEPS Home Care office to find out how to connect your loved one and their companion to a local market near them.
Get to know your farmers
Seniors can wander through the market without an agenda and stop for free samples and tastes. Take the time to visit, talk to and ask questions of the people who work there. They really do appreciate your curiosity and interest in their effort to grow produce locally and sustainably. Some markets have weekly entertainment too.
What does organic mean, and is it worth buying?
Some farms promote organic farming methods, but the term organic can have many meanings. One definition of organic food: ‘“Organic food is the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides; growth regulators and livestock feed additives. Irradiation and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or products produced from or by GMOs are generally prohibited by organic legislation.” There are other reasons, besides nutrition, that people choose organic food - such as taste, to avoid pesticides and a concern for the environment. But since organic foods are more expensive, find out which foods benefit from having organic benefits. For example, an organically grown banana might not be superlative healthwise as you take the peel off vs. an apple where the peel would be exposed to the chemicals.
Try preserving and canning
If you're looking for a fun activity to do with your aging loved one or grandkids, learn how to preserve through canning, freezing or drying. The most useful preserving recipes are the ones that start small so don’t be afraid to try a single batch of fruit or a vegetable you purchased at the farmers market. To learn more about preserving and canning foods, you can sign up for a class through the Millstone Farm, a private farm in Wilton, CT, which offers gardening and food preservation workshops to the public. Click here to add your email address to their newsletter updates. Millstone offers classes in Fermentation and Pickling, Honey Extracting and Canning, Maple Syrup Production, Preserving your Garden: Canning, Freezing, Drying, Cider pressing & Canning
Ask about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
CSA has become a popular way to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer and have it delivered near where you live. A farmer offers a certain number of "produce shares" to the public and can include any produce they are growing at the season. Most programs are available as weekly or bi-weekly, and you can pick your veggies up at either the market or another designated location. By signing up for a CSA, you can save money and try new veggies you might not otherwise buy. Check out Mike’s Organic CSA which services Westchester and Fairfield County. Mike’s Organic Delivery brings sustainable, healthy, delicious food to your door each week or visit their indoor Warehouse Market near exit 6 off 95 in Stamford, CT. It is open Tuesday-Friday 9 am to 4 pm rain or shine.
Ask about frequent buyer cards
Since local, organic and sustainably raised produce can be more expensive. Check with the vendors to see if they have punch cards or frequent buyer cards, rewarding loyal customers with discounts and deals.
Farmers markets near you
Local farms offering education and classes
Stone Barns Center -- 630 Bedford Rd, Tarrytown, NY
An extensive tour of a behind-the-scenes view of Stone Barns with one of their farm or program staff. Stroll through the greenhouse and planting fields and get to know the livestock. They will share with you our favorite places on the property while discussing the ways in which we farm and our diverse work to build a healthy and sustainable food system.
Millstone Farm -- 180 Millstone Rd, Wilton, CT
Millstone Farm offers an array of farm-focused workshops led by experienced farmers and special guest instructors. Go online and sign up for their newsletter to access their workshops.
Garden Recipe by the New York Times
PASTA WITH ROASTED EGGPLANT, PEPPER, AND GARLIC
INGREDIENTS2 ¼ pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon pepper
2 small red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch strips
9 garlic cloves, unpeeled, lightly crushed
1 ½ teaspoons red wine vinegar, more to taste
⅜ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ pound whole-wheat pasta, like penne or rigatoni
¾ cup ricotta cheese
Chopped basil or chives
Turn on the broiler and set a rack 6 inches from the heat. Toss the eggplant with 2 tablespoons oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and spread it in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Broil, tossing once halfway through, until the eggplant is golden but not cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Turn off the broiler and heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Toss the peppers and garlic with 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread on another baking sheet in a single layer. Roast the eggplant, peppers and garlic until they are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
Slip the garlic cloves from their peels and mash them in a small bowl with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk in the remaining 4 tablespoons oil, the vinegar and the pepper flakes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain. Toss with the vegetables, the mashed garlic, the ricotta and the herbs. Add more salt and vinegar to taste.