Local Food


The rising cost of food is unavoidable.  There is nothing quite like watching the Gardenregister ring up a grocery bill and emptying your wallet onto the conveyor belt when living on a limited budget.  Eating local fresh produce sometimes gets a bad rap given the misconception that food raised on smaller local farms must be more expensive.  In short – it’s not.  Just check out your HM&F produce box and do a price comparison with your local retailers.  We recently compared the cost of our veggie box with the same items from a national chain and we were ~36% below what you would pay at that store.  That didn’t include other costs associated with long distance shipping, environmental concerns, and public health issues that come with large corporate farms – organic or conventional.  The cost of food from corporate farms in other states or countries can artificially make the cost seem lower than it really is.   

This past Saturday we purchased two Po-boys from a local retailer on Magazine Street and compared the cost to our Veggie-box.  The Po-boys provided one lunch for two people and the veggie box provides two people with enough produce for about a week.

HM&F Veggie-box                               Po-boys_____________________

Peaches                                                        1 Large Shrimp Dressed on French

Plums                                                            1 Large Ham & Cheese Dressed on French

Blueberries

Sweet Corn

Creole Tomatoes

Long Green Eggplant

New Potatoes

Brown Jasmine Rice

Baby Bella Mushrooms

Green Bell Peppers

Cucumbers

 ________________________________________________________

Total Cost: $25.00                                Total Cost: $25.07

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This past Buyers’ Club which I am not sure if everyone knows is just a few weeks over the 1/2 year mark.  We are now coming into fresh-vine-ripened-explode-in-your-mouth tomato season which will be followed by blueberries, peaches, plums, and maybe even raspberries from a small farm on the Northshore.

This Saturday’s offering gave you a few unique options which included a mixed box of squash: zucchini, golden zucchini, yellow straight neck, and Pattypan. Pattypan squash is a summer squash that resembles a scalloped flying saucer and can come in a variety of colours but the most popular is white. The name Pattypan, derives from “a pan to bake a patty.” Pretty redundant-but this odd shaped squash is known in French cooking as ‘patisson’ which means ‘a cake baked in scalloped mold.’ This could be an easy segway into linguistics and about the history concerning the naming of things but this is a blog post and not a research paper about answering the question, “What the hell do I do with this?”

The Pattypan squash is best eaten when it is only 3 to 4 inches in diameter and  most often the flesh is scooped out and mixed with garlic or other seasonings. Once the flesh is mixed with seasoning the squash is re-stuffed and baked. Sometimes the squash is simply hollowed out used to hold other foodstuffs; decoration. In general, you will find the squash is used in much the same manner as other varieties: blanched, sliced, battered in a light egg wash and flour, then fried in hot iron skillet. If all that sounds like too much work then check out the recipe for this week (see below). Remember that the pattypan is a rich in magnesium, niacin, and one cup contains (plain, no butter or bacon fat included in these statistics) only 20 to 30 calories and absolutely no fat. So that just may be worth the effort and the perfect blank slate in which one can experiment in flavor.

Week 29 Recipe: Tasty Herbed Flying Saucers & other Identified Squash

Week 29 Map: Farms

Recently some of the staff at HGM&F, Ashley Locklear & John Burns, have been reading about Tassajara cooking. Tassajara cooking is based on Zen Buddhist views of being mindful in both actions and thought while applying it to every step of the cooking process. Tassajara is the work of Edward Espe Brown who in the early 70’s published a few notable cookbooks however he refers to them as guides, “the skeletal framework.  You must fill in the flesh according to your own nature and desire. Your life, your love, will bring these words into full creation. This cannot be taught. You already know it. So please cook, love, feel, and create.”

“We need more cooks, not more cookbooks.” -Charles W. Brooks.

Tassajara Cooking and Little Nell in Colorado help shape and inspire the simple ans easy recipe this week; it’s also cheap roasting chickens stuffed with lemons, mushrooms, and fresh herbs. It also puts to good use the fava beans that have been making an appearance in your box over the past few weeks with a fava bean and radish salad. Hope you enjoy this delicious recipe as much as we did.

Week 27 Recipe: Lemon & Garlic Chicken

Week 27 Produce:Farms

This past Saturday you may have been pleasantly surprised to find radishes in your box. Here in the Southeast you may not see too many Spring or Summer radishes; as Spring quickly gives way to Summer you may start anticipate Creole tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, sweet corn, potatoes, and much more.

eatThe inspirations for the recipe for your box this week are simple and inspired by a classic Vietnamese sandwich which is very similar to a Po Boy. The Bahn Mi Pho the term has quit blended with the French meaning: “Salad Sandwich.” This salad sandwich is a product of French Colonialism in Indochina and uses the traditional ingredients of Pho, a gloriously simple and tasty traditional Vietnamese soup. It has pickled toppings such as carrots, cucumbers, radishes along with different choices of meat or tofu. It often includes something else decidedly French on the sandwiches: a spicy version of aloi as well as a thin layer of butter.

In some regions, Banh mi, can also mean bread. The bread, as we all know, is the most important part of the sandwich: it is the frame of the vehicle which is filled with other earthly delights awaiting inside bite after bite.

The Hollygrove Market & Farm has used what nature has decided what is best and in season to fill our bahn mi pho. The recipe includes a unusual sounding use for radishes, which happens to be quite tasty, was offered by Patrick Hamilton, a WWOOF (worldwide opportunities on organic farms), of L’Hoste Citrus in Braithwaite. Radishes are packed with asboric acid, folic acid, and potassium. Radishes also like most other root vegetables are also very filling because while being mostly carbohydrates they offer only 20 calories per bulb which leaves you with a low caloric intake but a satisfied feeling of being full.

We hope you enjoy this simple recipe as much as we did!

Week 26 Recipes: Hollygrove’s Salad Sandwich

Week 26 Produce: Weekly Farmer Map

Here at Hollygrove Market & Farm we understand that sometimes eating locally can become synonymous with expense and time. We try to offer the freshest seasonal local food available. Most weeks the produce is picked the same day as the pick up or delivery, if not the same day, it is within 36 hours and is immediately washed and refrigerated (if necessary). The staff at Hollygrove Market & Farm comes from a largely diverse background including economics, sociology, environmental urban planning, cultural anthropology, and biology. Also there is over two decades of retail and culinary management.

Everyone loves to read.  A lot. Especially when it comes to food whether it’s the history & biology of particular fruit or vegetable’s development all the way to how society & economics might have changed the fate of that particular fruit or vegetable. So when we ran across some tips from the authors of the book, 100 Mile Diet, Smith & McKinnon, we thought it vital to share those with you:

Somehow we’ve forgotten that cooking your own meals and putting away food for winter used to be considered thrifty things to do – and the fact is, they still are. Local eating does have its costs, but it has its savings, too.”

First: Are local foods really so expensive?
1. Do a fair comparison. Farmers’ market foods often have a higher sticker price. But wait – that head of lettuce is much larger than the one at the supermarket, and it’s organic. Compared pound-for-pound with supermarket foods of similar quality, farmers market foods may actually cost less. Also, some so-called luxury foods (often foods that don’t keep or transport well, such as basil and artichokes) can be far cheaper at the farmers’ market than the supermarket.

2. Consider a box program. Weekly local-food box deliveries, especially community-supported agriculture programs (or CSAs, in which you become a subscriber to a particular farm or set of farms), often offer excellent value.

Second: Shop wisely
3. Arrive at the market early, or late. The best-priced foods can sell out quickly. On the other hand, vendors will often sell end-of-day food (especially in bulk) for less, rather than ship it back to the farm.

4. Do a walk-around. Quickly check the farmers market stalls for the best deals. Earlier this year I saw the first salad greens for $11/lbs. I gave those a pass, and instead bought a huge bag of wild miner’s lettuce – a succulent seasonal treat – for just $2.

5. Buy in bulk, buy in season. Local foods are cheapest in the peak of their season. That’s the time to invest in your food and freeze, can, or dry some for later. The outlay of cash can be a big bite, but in winter your grocery bill will be close to zero. Some real-life examples from Alisa and my experience: nearly 50 peaches for $3 (that’s total, not by weight); organic tomatoes for $1/lbs; wild salmon for $4/lbs (in stores I’ve seen it topping $20/lbs).

6. Buy cheaper cuts and ugly food. It costs money to raise animals in humane conditions. Expect to pay more, but expect better-tasting meat, too; keep costs down by eating less expensive cuts, such as stewing meats, more often. With vegetables and fruit, it’s often cheaper to buy “uglies” – products with small blemishes or funny shapes – that taste just fine but can be hard for farmers to market.

hollygrove checkoutThird: Do not waste food
7. Do not waste food. When new research indicates we throw out http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/ one-third of the edible food we buy, it’s hard to take seriously claims that food “costs too much.” Make plans to use the food in the fridge or freezer, including leftovers.

8. Use everything edible. You eat radishes. But do you also eat their greens, flowers, and seed pods – all delicious? Carrot tops are tasty, and so are cauliflower and broccoli stalks and leaves. In Africa, I’ve eaten whole dishes made entirely of bean or squash leaves. Ask your farmer or food producer for ideas on how to use every edible part of what you buy, or troll the internet for ideas.

9. Remember the stock pot: Much of what we throw away – bones, fish heads, vegetable trimmings – can be saved to make healthful soup stock. Many older people remember keeping stock pots (or still do); ask your elders about what works well in stock and what should go in the compost instead.

Fourth: Cook smart
10. Use fewer ingredients. Fresh foods have bolder flavors than bland supermarket foods. Use fewer ingredients and let their simple flavors shine.

11. Prepare smaller portions of meat, eggs, cheese etc. Everyone knows that most of us eat too much of these expensive foods, but it’s hard to replace them with bland supermarket fruit and veg. Fresh, local vegetables, on the other hand, earn their place at the center of the plate.

12. Eat smaller meals. Many locavores report that, over time, their meal sizes shrink and they also do less snacking. That’s certainly been my experience. We can’t say for certain why this happens, but my guess is that local eaters are getting better nutrition through their fresh, whole foods. What I can say for sure is that it’s saving us money.

Fifth: Community comes with savings
13. Buy together, cook together. Making big bulk purchases, with even deeper savings, is easiest in groups. Having food friends allows you to share different kitchen tools and appliances – not everyone needs a dehydrator or a storage freezer. Carpooling or splitting the labor of seasonal buying saves gas. We’ve even watched groups come together and cooperate with farmers to decide the following year’s crops and explore the costs together.

14. Get to know your food producers. The baker’s dozen is alive and well on the rural backroads! We still frequently see “honor boxes” – unattended roadside stands with a coin box where you pay what you feel is fair for the food that you take. Alisa and I rarely make a farmgate purchase without receiving a little something extra, like a newly ripe melon or a few onions. This year, Alisa was invited to pick our canning strawberries for free, just because the berries were otherwise going to rot on the vine.

15. Barter, trade, and work for your food. Some u-pick operations and other growers will pay you to pick for them as well as give you a good price on food you harvest for yourself. Some farmers appreciate offers to work for food (I used to do this weekly while in my mid-twenties). At farmers’ markets, some vendors will give free fruit or veg if you help set up or take down their stall. And don’t forget to barter and trade with other locavores with the extras of what you grow or preserve.

Sixth: Be a little more self-sufficient
16. Plant a garden. Even a small container garden can save you money on herbs, which are expensive at the shops. We focus on planting foods that are costly but easy to grow, like garlic, basil, herbs, and, this year, tomatilloes. We also also plant a winter garden, for fresh food when supermarket prices are at their highest.

17. Forage. Wild foods are free. And foraging doesn’t only happen in the wilderness – ask your neighbours about all that tree fruit they’re letting drop and rot on the ground.

18. Consider some livestock. Even in the city, rules and regulations increasingly permit people to keep bees, chickens, and – more rarely – goats or larger animals. Bantam chickens, for example, are small and can keep a family in eggs much of the year.

Finally…

19. Ask yourself – and your local politicians – why bad food is so often cheap and good food is so often expensive. Why does our system subsidize the producers who use tons of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, ship food huge distances, pay farmworkers the bare minimum, and treat animals as if they were machines rather than living creatures? Why not invest instead in a food system that is first and foremost local, organic, humane, and a decent place to work? Remember: If the food’s too cheap, it’s because someone else is paying.


This past Saturday if you happened to stop by the Market chances are you had a chance to sample something very different: a red bean & rice cake. The red bean & rice cake was a serendipitous accident that Ashley Locklear had while trying to perfect the original intention: a chilled red bean & rice salad. After preparing the beans and chopping all the other ingredients for the recipe the realization came when checking on the rice — too moist, too sticky, and in a city who is proud their rice cooking abilities this is a giant blunder. Instead of scrapping the whole recipe and the ingredients (what a waste!), the idea came to shape them into patties and serve with a Remoulade sauce. Necessity is truly the mother of invention or really a lack of money to recreate the whole thing and being wasteful.

So you can download the original recipe below which is for the red beans and rice salad, it includes at least 4 ingredients that were in your Buyers’ Club box. Just remember if your popcorn rice is little sticky after cooking save yourself some time and shape the concoction into patties and lightly coat a hot iron skillet with a few drops of oil then throw those little patties in until they create their own little crisp crust.

Recipe for Week 17:

red-beans-salad

Map: Local Farmers and Their Produce for 2.7.09

In honor of Mardi Gras, we have decided to put coconuts in many of the boxes this week! As our volunteer, Kryss, and I bagged the popcorn rice on Friday afternoon, I couldn’t help but think of the breakfast I’d be making on Sunday morning using the following:

  • Campbell Farms popcorn rice (in your box again this week!)
  • coconut milk
  • shaved coconut pieces
  • a pinch of raw sugar
  • a tiny bit of ginger

Though the rice is wonderful in savory dishes, I think it would compliment the coconut very well.

Check out Ashley Locklear’s curry recipe below!

Map: Local Farmers and Their Produce for 1.31.09

Recipes: Root Vegetable Curry & Turnip Cough Linctus

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