January 6, 2010 > Farm fresh, all year long
Farm fresh, all year long
By Alyson Whitaker
Photos By William Mancebo
Locally grown produce isn't just for the lazy days of summer. Thanks to the moderate climate of Northern California, farm fresh produce is available year round. Cooler temperatures in the fall and winter months are perfect for a wide variety of greens, root vegetables, multiple varieties of winter squash, broccoli, and more.
Buying produce year-round from the local farmers' markets is a fun adventure to add to your family's weekly grocery shopping. Not only are you supporting the local farmers, but you're adding another GREEN item to your lifestyle. Buying local reduces energy consumption required to transport produce across state and country lines. Packaging requirements are minimized when produce doesn't have to travel a gazillion miles. Food is harvested fresh and ready to eat with the highest nutrients and taste the food has to offer.
The benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables in our diets are undeniable. Summer vegetables are undoubtedly the most popular, and with abundant gardens in full bloom, selections are plentiful. Many assume that with the shorter days and cool nights of fall and winter, fresh vegetables must be imported from warmer climates. But this is not the case. While it may be a challenge to find a vine ripened locally grown tomato in mid-December, it isn't hard at all to find many other nutrient-rich and tasty vegetables ... grown just a few miles from your house!
Many local farmers are offering the opportunity to own a piece of the pie, so to speak, through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Consumers purchase a share (aka membership or subscription) and in return receive a box, bag, or basket of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming seasons. The advantages are many - eat ultra-fresh food year round, try new vegetables and recipes. Picky children may even eat veggies they've never tried before! In addition, consumers may develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about the process, as well as have opportunities to visit the farm in person.
There is a plethora of local farmers' markets in Alameda County. While each has its own flair and specialties, they all bring California residents fresh, locally-grown produce year-round.
Rain or shine, after a stroll through the market, you'll be heading home with just what you need to whip up a tasty winter's meal.
Irvington Farmers' Market
Chapel Way at Bay Street, Fremont
Sundays, year-round 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Kaiser Permanente Fremont Farmers' Market
39400 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont
Thursday, year-round 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Centerville Farmers' Market
Bonde Way/Fremont Blvd, Fremont
Saturday, year-round 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Kaiser Permanente Hayward Farmers' Market
27400 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward
Wednesday, year-round 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Hayward Farmers' Market
Hayward City Hall Plaza
777 B Street, Hayward
Saturday, year-round 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Milpitas Farmers' Market at ICC
525 Los Coches St, Milpitas
Sundays, year-round 8 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Newark Farmers' Market
NewPark Mall parking lot
Sunday, year-round 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Baia Nicchia Farm Stand
In front of the Jazz Cafe on Main Street in downtown Sunol
Weekly Tuesdays & Fridays, from 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.
5 percent of proceeds from Friday sales go to support the garden project at Sunol Glen Elementary.
CSA Boxes also available for purchase.
Union City Farmers' Market
Old Alvarado/Cesar Chavez Park, Smith & Watkins Street, Union City
Saturday, year-round 9 a.m. - 1p.m.
(fresh fish & seafood in addition to fruits and vegetables)
Kaiser Permanente Union City Farmers' Market
Kaiser Permanente, near entrance to Building B
3553 Whipple Road, Union City
Tuesday, year-round 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
(produce, nuts, and fresh-cut flowers)
Here are two recipes using farm fresh produce:
Spinach Salad with Poppyseed Dressing:
Recipe courtesy of Alyson Whitaker
4-5 cups loosely packed baby spinach
4-5 cups loosely packed other salad greens (Romaine, mixed greens, leaf lettuce, etc.)
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
4 hard boiled eggs, sliced
6 strips bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
Combine all salad ingredients in large salad bowl.
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. poppyseeds
Pour all ingredients except poppyseeds in blender and blend until well mixed. Add poppyseeds and blend just until distributed.
Salad may be tossed with dressing just before serving, or served with dressing on the side.
White Bean, Red Chard & Sausage Soup:
Recipe courtesy of Diedra McKinney
Olive oil - to brown sausage
1 lb. Italian Sausage (sweet is best, but any will do)
5 cloves garlic, minced (more or less can be added, depending on taste preference)
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1 bunch Red Chard (or any dark leafy green) - stems cut from leaves and chopped, chop leaves separately.
3 cups cooked white beans (or 2 cans drained and rinsed)
6 cups chicken stock
1-2 cups tomatoes, chopped (canned tomatoes work fine)
1 tsp dried Oregano, or 1 Tbsp. fresh
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
Heat oil and cook sausage until it starts to brown, then add garlic and pepper flakes. Cook until garlic is soft. Add chard stems and cook about 2-3 minutes. Add chard leaves and cook, stirring until wilted. Add beans, stock and tomatoes and bring to a gentle boil. Add butter, parsley and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with warm crusty bread & a salad. Enjoy!