To market I go
In my quest to be greener and local-er and all socially and environmentally aware and all that, I have been trying to make a point to shop at farmers’ markets. I live in the beautiful, pastoral Pioneer Valley where farms abound after all. Here’s the thing though. I have farmers’ market envy. It starts in the spring when all those New York food bloggers start waxing poetic about all the rhubarb and ramps and fiddleheads and my goodness, whatever shall they make with the bounty.
Our farmers’ markets here in Massachusetts, however, don’t even open until late spring and then all they have is vegetable plants and flowers and shrubs. I can’t very well make a lovely little cobbler with chopped up shrubs though, now can I?
It starts getting a little better after Memorial Day when some of the vendors have a few hot house tomatoes and some early cucumbers and maybe a few greens, radishes and peas. But, I was still not seeing the bounty I hoped for even in mid-July when I visited the markets in Westfield and in Springfield on Avocado Street. I was disappointed when there were often more purveyors of baked goods and jams than of actual produce.
Then I did it…
I went and drove up to the Northampton famers’ market on Saturday morning. And that, my friends, is a farmers’ market! I felt like a kid in a candy store! I wanted something from every stall. There were vendors with plants, and even one or two with jams and honeys, but there was more! So much more. I bought some grass-fed beef from Chicoine Family Farm. I bought some locally grown wheat berries from Northfield. And then there was the produce! Glory hallelujah, the produce. There were greens and lettuces of every kind, adorable fingerling potatoes in every color imaginable, beautiful white and purple swirled eggplants, squashes, heirloom tomatoes, blueberries, blackberries and corn-on-the-cob. I bought broccoli and leeks and nectarines and those pretty yellow plums pictured above.
So, I loved this market and I wish it were just a wee bit closer to home as I wonder; am I cancelling out my green-ness by driving a half hour out of my way to get there? Maybe I am overanalyzing. A bit. I still just wish it was around the corner. After my adventures in produce, I drove even a little further out of my way to the Trader Joe’s in Hadley – the only one in our area. Don’t even get me started on how much I wish that was closer!
I know, I know. I am just being a whiny baby – after all we do have some fabulous farm stands in nearby Westfield and Agawam and I certainly make it a habit to shop them. If only those farm stands carried Trader Joe’s organic breakfast cereals and marinara sauce (all for less than the regular stuff at Big Y). Then I could really stop whining!
Ah, well, for now I will stuff my face to stave off the whimpering with this Summer Fruit Upside Down Cake. I’ve blogged this one before – it’s an oldie but a goodie. The nice thing about it is that you can change up the fruit mixture with whatever looks good at the farmers’ market (or farm stand) as long as you keep the total fruit quantity about the same. This time I used Westfield blueberries along with those pretty golden plums and some nectarines that weren’t quite ripe yet, but perfect for baking.
It’s lovely warm out of the oven with a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Or for breakfast. Or for a snack. Just make it and enjoy it soon – the season here in New England is short but delicious, wherever you get the goods.