hand & vine.imgWhile the summer heats up to nearly unbearable levels there a few foodstuffs that produce heavily the hotter it becomes such as: okra, eggplant (to some extent), all types of mild to super hot peppers. The appearance of okra, eggplant, and peppers will be plentiful until the heat subsides. Tomatoes, corn, potatoes, & beans most certainly will disappear for a little while and reappear early in the fall giving us one last taste of summer before all things green appear during the winter months.

Lately the only thing green in the boxes have been the okra and a few sweet roasting peppers.  Okra is as essential to New Orleans as the 3:oo pm rains on a July afternoon. While there is some debate over where okra originated, most believe that had to started out growing on the Ethiopian highlands and no one is really quite sure how it arrived in India, the Middle East, & parts of the Mediterranean. Now that okra has been cultivated and traveled to the Caribbean, South America and eventually the United States around the 18th century one thing hasn’t changed — it has always been found in or as the main ingredient in soups. In India it is in a sweet curry with other savory spices, in the Middle East it may be served in gravy, and finally you can find it in the Caribbean to thicken soups that often are made with chicken or seafood.

Okra has been cultivated for centuries because of its abilities to adapt in harsh climates where it becomes prolific during the hottest, driest parts of the year. It is easily maintained and has a high nutritional content for Folate, Magnesium, Calcium and a bit of Vitamin C, therefore, it is food security and agriculturally sustainable.

In today’s economy it is hard to take the long view when buying fresh foods especially when the prices seem to have no limits. It’s hard too to want or even find the time to prepare fresh from scratch meals all time but the rewards are great in the long run. There several misconceptions that fresh produce is expensive especially at farmers’ market and through CSAs. One of the biggest misconceptions is the these models are not economically competitive which is not true when you think about how your dollar spent at the farmers’ market or a CSA goes directly to the farmer and helps your local economy and local foods to continue to flourish. There are the hidden costs of that can seem to make these type of models expensive, for example, access to new or unusual varieties might mean that you end up not getting a chance to use those items because its not always easy to figure out just what to do with heirloom tomatoes or a white eggplant. That’s where your farmers’ market & your CSA’s come in to help you make the best of your food budget buying directly from the farm means that you have access to a lexicon of recipes, growing tips if you’re the home gardener type, or you simply just have the chance to connect with the person who grows the food and feeds you. So it should come as no surprise that the American Farm Land Trust wants you to vote for your favorite farmers’ market. Everyday we lose hundreds of acres of land to urban developments and while the website doesn’t seem to have all the farmers’ markets you most certainly can add yours and vote for the future of food.

Recipe: Roasted Potato Summer Salad

Week 38 Produce: