Summertime and the Living is Easy: In Praise of Farmers Markets

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

Today would have been my father’s 89th birthday and I‘m spending it with my mother in High Point, North Carolina.

During the past ten days of my visit, I’ve found myself doing something I’ve not done since when I was a teenager: taking advantage of summer’s bounty and making jam. Now, as I’ve written in many posts, the quality of much food – in its natural state –  has deteriorated over the last decades – a  result of the metastization of our industrial food production system. Foodstuffs are genetically modified. Over-processed. Degraded. Over-fertilized. Doused with pesticides.

But I’ve discovered that jam-making is actually easier now, not to mention the results healthier and better-tasting, when compared to the sugar bombs I remember from my youth. IIRC, the commercial pectin we used then required a large infusion of sugar to set correctly. I’ll confess I’ve been a bit too lazy to can, and instead over the last week made multiple recipes of freezer jam. Using Pomona’s Universal Pectin – one of what I understand are several brands now available that do not not require a high concentration of sugar to set and in fact can be used with any sweetener. Yield so far from my North Carolina visit: about three dozen jars of jam, varieties including white peach with basil; white peach, ginger, and raspberry; simple yellow peach; blueberry; blackberry; and strawberry.

On our way back to High Point from a family reunion held at my sister’s house near Wilmington to celebrate Mom’s 84th birthday on the 3rd, we stopped at Johnson’s Peaches in Candor. After devouring a bowl of vanilla ice cream with sliced peaches, I started poking around the peaches, and ended up buying a peck each of yellow (O’Henry) and white (Sugar Peach?). I chose the only fruit that was ripe, which happened to be graded as “seconds”.  As I intended to make jam, I didn’t want to wait for the peaches. An added benefit: The price of the seconds was half that of the first quality. Yet I wasn’t motivated by price, and in fact I’m glad the proprietor didn’t know that I would have paid double to get ripe fruit.

Usually, when I engage in mass food production, I end up wasting some of what I’ve purchased. I inevitably run out of gas before the task is finished. Not so with these peaches. They were hand’s down the best I’ve ever tasted and it would have been a sin to waste them.  Finished the last of them last night, when I transformed them into puree to make Bellinis. We drank them with a blackberry cheesecake I’d made – with a gingersnap crust and a wicked fresh blackberry sauce.

And Now for Something Completely Different: Some Good News

The peaches aren’t the only food development that’s impressed me during this visit. In fact, some aspects of the North Carolina food scene have improved since I last spent much time here during summertimes, watching my father slowly decline until he finally succumbed to cancer in August 2000.

Last month, a new Earth Fare supermarket just opened close to my Mom’s home. The store seems committed to some sensible principles, including clean food security – “the state of having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.”  And eschews contributing to the worst abuses of contemporary food production, USA-style, and instead opts for humanely raised meat, sustainable seafood, no GMOs. The store maintains a “boot list” of good and bad ingredients: “We read the labels so you don’t have to.”  And pledges that its food is free from added hormones; artificial fats and trans fats; artificial sweeteners; bleached or bromated flour; antibiotics; high fructose corn syrup; artificial preservatives; and artificial colors or flavors.

Now, this post is based on my impressions formed while shopping at this new supermarket. I haven’t studied the company’s claims in great detail nor have I attempted to figure out how much of their philosophy is sincere and how much is mere greenwashing. So I encourage more knowledgeable readers to pipe in on whether Earth Fare  does more than talk the talk, and actually walks the walk as well.

And, I’ll also mention that entering an American supermarket – even one dedicated to resisting the worst depredations of the American food production system – is a bit of a culture shock. This is a deeply alien environment to me as I don’t purchase much processed food and I spend  nearly all of my time in places with thriving local markets. The proportion of the local Earth Fare store devoted to fresh food – vegetables, fruits, meat, dairy, seafood – compared to stuff that comes in a box and which my great-grandmother wouldn’t have recognized as food, is about the same as that of a conventional American supermarket. I mean, I guess it’s better that these processed foods are selected to match a boot list of good and bad ingredients. But they’re still processed foods. Also, I noticed that much of the produce originates from far away – meaning it comes with a large carbon footprint and its long journey from farm to table means it’s not as fresh as I would like it to be.

Still, I think Earth Fare expresses a sincere intent to avoid some of the hidden hazards embedded in our food, and I’m pleased that Mom will be doing more of her shopping here in future, rather than at other conventional supermarkets – where more bad stuff inevitably creeps into the shopping basket.

To be sure, I’m happier still at local farmers markets, where most of the food isn’t processed at all and comes from local sources. At my home in Brooklyn, I’m a habitué of New York City’s Greenmarkets. Over the last week or so of stopping at the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market every other day, we’ve enjoyed the last of the season’s sweet corn. Tasty blueberries. Blackberries! And vendors who recognize me even after only a few visits – and remember my preference to be spared plastic bags.

One great discovery: tomatoes that taste like tomatoes. In earlier posts, I’ve lamented the decline of the taste of American tomatoes. My first summer job, during that long ago Bicentennial Summer of ’76,  was as a tomato picker, and then sorter, at Guidi’s Farm in Sussex County, New Jersey, so I know exactly why that’s the case. As a former professional tomato sorter, I can attest that when we sorted tomatoes, the hard ones were shipped into New York City, the slightly softer ones went to local farm stands, and the ripest, juiciest tomatoes – the ones you had to restrain yourself from eating – were usually discarded.

Except I convinced Mr. Guidi – a wintertime teacher, summertime farmer, and friend of my teacher father – that rather than tossing them away, I be allowed to take some home to Mom, who served them in salads or transformed them into tomato sauce to freeze and eat during the winter. When in New York, I buy much of my produce from Greenmarkets, but almost always find the tomatoes, even the heritage varieties, a disappointment.

Not so for the local tomatoes from the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market. I’ve eaten some pink brandywines and Cherokee purples that were each bursting with tomato flavour. I’m pleased to find you can find good tomatoes at farmers markets.

And I can’t fail to mention the scrumptious North Carolina potatoes. I’ve been enjoying the Kennebec variety – known for making particularly good fries, although during this visit, I’ve confined myself to making potato pancakes, a gratin dauphinois, and vichyssoise. The summer I turned four, we spent a week at the beach at the Outer Banks, in a small bungalow, long before that destination had been crapified by mass tourism. I was a bit of a picky eater – no potatoes! – but Mom convinced me I should give North Carolina potatoes a try. I did, and devoured them. That meant thereafter she had to maintain the fiction that any potatoes served in our house in New Jersey were actually North Carolina potatoes – a small fib of course, but forgiveable.

This is a bit of an unusual post for me, extolling the small pleasure of finding that not every aspect of modern life has been well and truly crapified. And I’m happy to report I’ve preserved a small bit of lush summer sweetness for Mom to enjoy when winter rolls in and I’m once again so far, far away.

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47 comments

  1. Michael Fiorillo

    A lovely post, thank you, and a pleasing example of the Objective Correlative, where subjective perception and experience are congruent with objective reality…

    Reply
    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      For the most part, I just used the freezer jam recipes included in the Pomona Universal Pectin box for either peach (white or yellow) or berries, with the following changes:

      I was scant w/ my use of sugar; the recipes call for at least ¾ cup of sugar, minimum (and up to 2 cups). I used ½- ¾ cup sugar per recipe. A matter of taste of course. I used turbinado sugar – aka sugar in the raw, btw.

      The white peach/rasp/ginger was my own concoction. I used the base Pomona (white) peach freezer jam recipe, opting for lime rather than lemon juice. Plus I added some lime zest and about 1 tsp chopped crystallized ginger with the sugar. Would have used more ginger but I think that would have been too much for Mom; if you like ginger, increase the amount. Once the white peach base was done– including adding and mixing in the pectin and then the calcium water- I swirled through about a half cup of mashed raspberries. Could have added more but that’s what I had on hand. Then ladled the finished jam into jars and froze.

      As for white peach/basil, here’s the recipe: White peach and basil jam. This cooks on the stovetop for a while and has no pectin added whatsoever. ‘Tis a bit sweet initially, but calmed down the second day after being in the fridge. Next time I make it I’ll reduce the sugar.

      Reply
      1. Antagonist Muscles

        A friend of mine who is a generation older than me recounted to me how when she was young, the task of fruit preserves almost always fell to women. I was completely unaware that making jam was unmasculine, so I ignored these gender norms and will continue to do so.

        Sugar (and HFCS) is pretty unhealthy stuff. Thus, I would advise you simply eat the fruit plain instead of making jam. Nevertheless, I have some recommendations about making jam.

        Peel and seed the fruit the evening before you plan on cooking jam. Weigh the prepared fruit flesh. Throw the fruit in a blender, pulsing or blending briefly. Mix in sugar with the fruit, approximately 20% of the total fruit weight depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Refrigerate overnight.

        16-24 hours later, pour the fruit and sugar into a stainless steel stock pot. Cook at low to medium-low heat for approximately 1 hour. Stir occasionally. I am terrible at multi-tasking, but I tend to focus on reading something in the kitchen while barely focusing on the occasional stir.

        When I last made plum jam, I had to use about 20% sugar because I added lemon juice. I also omitted the pectin because plums naturally have pectin. Because pitting and peeling the plums is troublesome, I recommend adding the sugar to the whole plum and smashing it with a potato masher. Remove the pits during the cooking process.

        3000 g plum flesh, without pit and peel, about 80 plums
        600 g white sugar
        72 g lemon juice, from 2 lemons, add near the end
        1.5 tablespoon vanilla extract, add near the end

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Amfortas;
          I think that I have seen you do a youtube video about making muscadine jam. Using a water bath canning pot without the rubber ring seal?

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Blast! I misread the “handle” on the comment. My apologies. This should go further down with ‘Amfortas the hippies’ comment.
            Contrawise, this person could be the one I saw on youtube? The give away is the potato masher.
            What a muddle.

            Reply
            1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

              I used a potato masher in making my freezer jams. The berries just needed to be mashed – no cooking – and the peaches cooked for two minutes and then mashed. Lots of bashing and mashing needed to get the correct gloppy texture, although I suppose I could also have used a food processor if I wanted to deal with cleaning up the machine.

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                Ah, so the dreaded potato masher sighting is not an isolated event! I also try to keep the use of electrical appliances to a minimum. I will have to keep my eyes peeled for a potato masher at the local thrift stores.

                Reply
                1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

                  Visiting my mother, so I used hers – nice metal one with a wooden handle. I remember it from my childhood and would guess it’s at least fifty years old.

                  Reply
  2. Clive

    One of my earliest memories is being taken out, almost every day, with my mum to get the shopping done. It was in the days when a supermarket shop was (certainly in Britain as it was at the time) a once a week or even less frequently than that event — and then only to buy bulky boxed things and provisions like dog food.

    Day-to-day fruit, vegetables, meat, milk, bread and so on were obtained from either “the market” (which was in the centre of town and supplied by local farmers — it was a farmers’ market before there were, er, farmers markets) or local one-man-band shops.

    Being a mum (or stay-at-home “mom” for you US folks!) was a fairly meagre existence in the 1970’s. My mum gave up working as a teacher to bring us kids up (it was an expectation and “proof” of middle-class’dom here) — we lived on a tract house in a new subdivision created miles out of town (as much new-built housing was in that era). The planners envisioned some sort of instant community would spontaneously spring forth, but suburban isolation was all-too-frequently endured as a lot of the houses were bought by retirees or singles or couples with no children. But mum always found something to do, someone to talk to, caught up with what passed for news in the town via the market traders and stallholders — plus the shopkeepers who knew their customers by name. And the prices were fair in the farmers’ market, the quality always top notch and fresh. The food miles were negligible — even if choice was limited (it was not for nothing that British cuisine was derided the world over — but then the choice of vegetables was limited severely in winter to root crops and even in summer, it was very basic salad items). But we didn’t care, we never missed what we didn’t have.

    What was “sold”, though, at the market (and the small stores) was community. People keep talking about community nowadays, but it always has a certain manufactured, artificial quality about it I find. If I’d asked my mother at the time whether she felt she belonged in a community, it would have seemed a strange question for her I think. The fellowship of “going to the market” each day (or “the shops”) wasn’t some ring-fenced, abstract concept. It was just her life, it was where we lived. You don’t get that in Walmart, no matter how much “community initiatives” get tacked on to it.

    I know that we always tend to look back with rose tinted spectacles, and they don’t make nostalgia like they used to. The Japanese have a better word for it, “natsukashii“. But I do miss those childhood trips with mum “to the market”.

    Reply
  3. DOUGLAS ROGERS

    Ha! I drove right by the Piedmont Farmers Market, this morning. Was on my way from Carroll Co, Va, where we sell our sustainably raised pork sausage in the Independence, Va farmers market, to Raleigh, NC, for a couple of days of checking on our business that feeds us financially.

    We have travelled some of the same roads, you and I. I was raised in High Point, back in the 60’s, and spent a bit of time in Sussex Co., NJ., in the early-mid 2000’s. Tiny crossroad named Stillwater.

    My wife(mostly) and I have spent all summer making jams, jellies, canning green beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and the best tomato juice I ever tasted. Since we process all our own organic fruit and veggies,as well as pork and poultry, we invested in a spendy Italian food mill that cuts the processing time in half, and allowed us to process 100 pounds of tomatoes from vine to Mason Jar in 4 hours. We find it relaxing, and quite an addictive “hobby”!

    Enjoyed reading your post today!

    Reply
  4. Amfortas the hippie

    that’s great. I hope that the sea change in ag–and in people’s expectations and demands—is finally happening…at least in some places.
    i live too far out to really explore what’s happening with farmer’s markets in the big city…we go for oncologist, chemo, etc…and don’t have time(or $$) to explore like i’d like to.
    my little town has one…i’ve been once, at the end of the season(my preference is staying on the farm, and it’s new, so i forget that it’s there)… i intended to bring my wares there beginning two years from now—in addition to being busy with wife’s cancer stuff,i really didn’t plan on having a real garden this year.
    grasshoppers for the last 2 years were biblical, and i was gonna just attempt to get more herbs and trees and compost working…add manure to all the bedspace that stands in for landscaping around here(23,000 sq ft. just needs more good dirt)…and planted tomatoes and things just kind of unconsciously. on a lark.
    but the grasshoppers, while still numerous and plaguelike, waited until june to appear…and i’ve pulled more than 200# of tomatoes out of the main garden bed(20’x50′), loads of green beans, enough cukes to keep us and the kids in the extended familia supplied and a truckload of pumpkins and spaghetti squash to last the winter(now tucked in to nooks and crannies all over the house)
    stepdad(wheelchair) is the canner around here….canned about half the toms, and 90% of the beans(also tucked in closets and everywhere)…and we either ate or gave the rest away. sacks of veggies on neighbor’s gates engenders good will, to say the least.(and MIL knows who needs it in the barrio). prunes drying(!) and a chinese plum sauce, and preserved peaches and figs…even spaghetti sauce(in experimental phase: just got the mill a week ago)
    second run of toms and cukes are now coming off…to my amazement, since it’s august, and 100+ every afternoon.
    and all this is before i began the “getting serious about compost” project.
    when i built the house, i included a ship’s ladder in the kitchen for roof access, and the dark shelves behind that turns out to be an awesome place for seed saving—paper towels on plastic lids that would otherwise be trashed, to dry them out(everything is heirloom)…and i find that i can’t wait for next spring.
    might even make a bit of money if i actually try…rather than this serendipitous accidental bounty.
    first year in a long time that i actually feel like i earned my keep.
    I’ve been working towards this since we moved back out here 4 years ago…and my plan was for another couple of years of prep…especially compost and horseshit(hard to find good, non-toxic manure, these days), no matter what the hoppers did.

    Reply
    1. Roxan

      We love the Amish farm markets and road side stands here in Pennsylvania. This was a bonus year for fruit, maybe due to so much rain. When I was a kid, we used to make jelly using green (unripe) grapes for pectin. That makes a superior jelly to the somewhat rubbery results of commercial pectin.

      Reply
      1. amfortas the hippie

        goji berries have a lot of pectin. i find them unpalatable by themselves. experimentation is on going

        Reply
        1. roxan

          I think green apples are OK, too. We learned how to do that from old ladies back in the hills. Mom still did everything by hand, boiling grapes down for juice (we had lots of grape vines, and didn’t know about wine) smooshing other stuff with the foley food mill. No blenders! She just didn’t trust that new-fangled invention. We put up bushels of peaches, tomatoes, green beans, limas and peas, most of them our own. I sure miss all that now!

          Reply
    1. jrs

      There are regulations on this type of stuff though, here in California that’s what a “certified farmers market” means that is does have to be certified as grown in state by the farm listed (it doesn’t mean certified organic, that’s a different certification).

      Is the regulation working perfectly? I don’t know.

      Reply
    2. bob

      Good link. I agree 100%. Too many “farmers markets**” **farmers market does not require dreadlocks, which normally increase the price exponentially and downgrade the quality. If you see them- RUN!

      I’m very lucky to live in a city with a giant market (no farmers included in the name, but plenty there). Hundreds of stalls among a few long, “market” buildings. Huge draw during the summer. It’s what a “market” used to be.

      https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48713-d3803283-Reviews-Central_New_York_Regional_Market-Syracuse_Finger_Lakes_New_York.html

      Quincy market? GAP’d. The food market there was tossed onto a side street to make room for gentrification and bad retail food ready to eat. Th buildings are still there, but they had to toss all the good food out, it made the sysco truck look bad.

      Reply
  5. Inode_buddha

    I wish I could find a farmers market or even a co-op within 30 miles of here…. I wonder if there is any websites to locate them? And whatever happened to all the co-ops we had in the 1970’s??

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      For the “where did they all go” question, I’m thinking that there are no longer any ‘cheap’ storefronts anymore. Everyone, almost, has become greedy.

      Reply
  6. shinola

    Have any of y’all tried making tomato preserves? My grandmother used to make batches every summer but I’ve not heard of anyone else doing so since she passed away years ago.

    A quick search shows many recipes out there but I.m not remotely qualified to asses which ones might have the best results.

    Reply
    1. Randy

      Everybody’s tastes are different. Pick some recipes, make small batches of each and choose what you like best. It is fun doing it.

      Different varieties of tomatoes will also greatly affect your results. The variables and results can be infinite. The same variety of tomato can vary greatly in taste from year to year depending on growing conditions.

      Hope that helped. LOL

      Reply
  7. Randy

    Pink Brandywine is the best tomato ever developed with Cherokee Purple a close second. You can save the seeds and plant them the next year thus avoiding the expensive seeds sold in stores. You also get to crack open a jar and the enjoy the aroma of your canned tomatoes. Pink Brandywines have a strong aroma, they almost smell better than they taste.

    I tried growing some head lettuce this year with excellent results. Juicy and sweet. You have never tasted head lettuce until you have had it fresh picked.

    Try wild blackberries or raspberries sometime. Wild berries are to domesticated berries what Brandywines are to commercial tomatoes.

    Reply
    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      I haven’t grown tomatoes in several years. Thanks for the seed-saving tip. And I agree about the scent of pink brandywines; that’s what drew me to purchasing that variety in preference to others.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i have no idea what “zone” i’m in now(they changed all that many years ago, right around the time i stopped paying attention to such things)
        Northwest Texas Hill Country.
        I like “Mortgage Lifter” and the various cherry toms they sell at HEB…i just stick them in the ground and weed out the weaklings.(saved seed for10 years, now)
        my other fave is a lobed italian tomato…i have no idea what it is…that i’ve saved seed from forever, given me by a woman we knew.
        i name it on the sections of venetian blind i use for markers(from the dump) after her.
        i have one vine that i picked up on a whim at the grocery store that’s done really well…don’t know what its called(hafta wait till it dies so i can get to the little plastic thing that will tell me) definitely an F-1.
        the ones that are fixin to make now are elongated “sauce tomatoes”, indeterminate, that we’ve been saving seed from for 50 years.
        if they have any name besides “those long sauce tomatoes”, it is long forgotten.
        grow pole beans right in with your tomatoes(for nitrogen fixing)(dry molasses in winter, with vetch, to make that happen), and basil everywhere around them(hornworms)…carrots(nematodes and other soilbourn critters) in early spring where toms will eventually go…and plant a trap crop of mustard somewheres nearby to attract the bugs.
        (i got enough mustard seed from a 12×3 bed of purple mustard trap crop to make 2 little jars of maiile…and it was intended to be sacrificed!)
        I do what amounts to French Intensive…densely planted all in together,…so i don’t have to weed much…and lots of covercrops: here, in summer, i do buckwheat and millet…winter, i do wheat(including einkorn, for fun), and lots and lots of vetch(crown and hairy). Herbs and salvia and beebalm, etc planted all over for to house/attract the good bugs.
        wasp homes(i have an understanding with the wasps(no porch living)) and birdhouses(ongoing)…I worry that i’ve seen no swallows, even though i pretty much designed the west side of the boys wing for them

        Reply
      2. elissa3

        Thanks for the peach recipes. For tomatoes, my preferences over the past 5 years are: Jaune Flammee, a French heirloom that’s prolific and very tasty; Carbon/Cherokee, a cross of two notable heirlooms with all the rich flavor of a “brown” tomato; Omar’s Lebanese is a large beefsteak-type with amazing flavor, but requires patience because it doesn’t ripen until late August here; and, of course, Sungold for the huge quantity of sugar bombs throughout the season. We’re in zone 5 here, so our peak tomato season is about now. One of the simplest things to do is cut up a bunch of tomatoes, chop up some garden basil, a little balsamic, a splash of olive oil, sea salt, then toss. Summer is wonderful!

        Reply
        1. JohnnySacks

          Cutting them into wedges and roasting them with garlic reduces the liquids and brings out more flavor before pureeing them into soup. And heating up a jar of canned soup in January is a real treat with some sour cream and sourdough toast. Tomatoes are off to a real slow start north of Boston this year and the basil isn’t doing anything.

          Reply
  8. Anon

    So what distance is considered local? 100 miles? Less? More?

    My local farmers market has grown to three long downtown city blocks. (Yeah, they close the main business street for it.) If 100 mile radius is the “local” cut-off, I’m in luck. That puts the agricultural abundance of Oxnard, Santa Paula, Santa Maria, and San Luis Obispo, and the fishing ports of Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Morro Bay all within the local circumscribe. Bragging rights?

    Being in a Mediterranean climate zone, however. There are no cold stone fruits (peaches) for jamming.

    Reply
  9. ambrit

    I just stumbled into this post and serendipity struck. I’m making Muscadine jam yesterday and today from Muscadine grapes that come off of a ‘volunteer’ vine out in the back of the lot. Muscadines evidently have sufficient natural pectin in their thick skins to make extra pectin unnecessary. Pop the pulp out of the globe, and cook pulp and skins separately. The skins need more cooking time. I use Splenda instead of plain sugar. The stuff is still mainly made from a variety of sugar, but for the ingredient neurotics among us.
    The real reason for this entire program is to gather the seeds, which have high amounts of penta galloyl glucose and are considered to have anti-cancer effects. Dry and grind the seeds for an extract supplement. Evidently, muscadines have the highest concentrations of those substances of any grape variety.
    See: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2822717/
    As a side effect of the ellagic acid trip comes the muscadine jam. I eat that up on toast for breakfast on those days when I am watching my caloric intake. (Phyl says that I look like the “Little Old Winemaker” of advertising fame from the sixties.)
    See, and laugh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzVXJPinUjs
    Riffing off of what Clive said above, I remember shopping with my Mom in Nassau and later Miami back in the early sixties. No matter what anyone says about ‘things in general’ people had more time to be civil if they chose to do so. Today, everything is done in a rush. Something of the humanness has been lost from life.
    As our experiences in this locale, South Central Mississippi, have taught us, to obtain a civilized community spirit, we first need to create the conditions that allow such a thing to arise. Regionalism, the opposite of globalism is needed.
    As the Beatniks and later Hippies said; “Slow down and smell the flowers.”
    Wonderful post, thanks.

    Reply
  10. ptb

    good stuff!

    I’ve been craving peaches but no luck so far up here. (NYS finger lakes region).
    I had some fantastic berries and cherries on a bunch of occasions this summer though. Strangest location: surprise raspberries, tiny and exploding with flavor, hidden in the bush growing on top of the root-ball of a huge tree that fell off a cliff-side into lake Ontario, somehow wet but not rotting, maybe because of the unusual clay-soil from the crumbling cliff (hope its not toxic… oh well).

    Reply
  11. polecat

    While I appreciate and patronize farmers markets, our city’s fm often has what I would politely term bourgeoisie prices for many items, so I don’t purchase much there .. usually from the local/regional bakery. Several years ago, I bought 3 lugs of mixed seconds heirloom tomatoes to can pasta sauce with, but, heavens to Zeus ! they were Still mucho expendioso !!

    As far as jam goes, I have approx. 4-5 gallons of accumulated frozen Loganberries grown here on the polecat suburban farm .. some from last year, but most from this season .. and will be canning (waterbath) boucou amounts thereof. I will be using a far amount of sugar, as the berries are a mix of almost over-ripe, and slightly under-ripe fruit. Gotta say, Loganberry jam is to die for !! I add a little fresh ground ceylon cinnamon & grated nutmeg in the batches I make. You can’t find Logans anywhere, as they are poor shippers, hence only grown as a ‘backyard gardener’s’ berry.

    Reply
    1. Anon

      Well, locally farm grown, organic food brings a premium price. But it’s still cheaper than bad news from a colonoscopy ;).

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        A hundred years ago, locally grown, generally organic food was the standard. The premium price is often a function of greed and virtue signalling by the local “haute bourgeois.”
        As for that colonoscopy; few among we ‘deplorables’ can any longer afford a colonoscopy, even were we to need one. We just follow neo-liberal tradition and slink off somewhere to die.

        Reply
        1. farmer

          The premium price is often a function of paying prevailing wages, workers comp, etc.

          “There are no locals willing to do x” (at the low wages being offered) applies to ag jobs as well.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Ah. I hadn’t considered the function of depressed wages and conditions available “offshore” that undergirds the ‘cheap’ processed foodstuffs seen in ‘commercial’ vendors spaces.
            Any data on percentage of a daily average wage per year allocated to food purchase and preparation?

            Reply
        2. Anon

          Well, if you make it to 65, Medicare will cover the exam for (essentially) free. Since an initial colon tests/colonoscopy should take place at age 50 (not 65), be sure to support Sanders and M4A. Early prevention is less costly than later intervention.

          Reply
  12. carl

    I put out a garden for the first time this year, and because of our late spring rains, my tomatoes grew to a prodigious height and churned out bushels. Likewise, planted a 4 inch Thai basil and now have a bush. Poblano peppers did nicely too. This was in two raised beds no more than about 15 feet long. Can definitely vouch for the taste of the tomatoes (not available in stores).

    Reply
  13. Bob

    Lovely post.

    And a quick reminder

    A fall garden is easy to do and now is the time

    Turnips arugula radishes carrots and so forth.

    Be ready in time for Thanksgiving

    Reply
  14. Fred1

    I’ve been following @SarahTaber_bww for awhile. She tweets about the politics of Big Ag and other farm issues. I think some here may find her observations worthwhile.

    Reply
  15. John Zelnicker

    An outstanding post, Jerri-Lynn. More like this, please.

    Your first few paragraphs had my mouth watering so much I almost needed a bib.

    I’ve mentioned before that I’m working to replant my front yard with fruiting trees and bushes, as well as pollinator attractors, thereby eliminating the lawn. I also hope to put in a vegetable garden next year and to plant one part of my yard (about 500 sq. ft.) with milkweed for the monarchs. I’m in the middle of their migration path to Mexico.

    Hopefully, by this time next year, I’ll have plenty of very locally grown produce to eat and share with my neighbors.

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  16. lordkoos

    We make freezer jam from our raspberry patch… it’s the best. My method is very lazy, I simply cook down the berries, adding sugar until it tastes right to me (we prefer fruit dishes such as jams, cobblers, crisps etc to be quite tart) and add some arrowroot to thicken.

    Our local farmers market (there is one in our small college town, and two others within a 30 mile radius) has excellent produce. In June we were buying organic Rainier cherries (my favorite) for $4.50 a pound. They cost about twice that much at Whole Foods in Seattle. We also have friends locally who sell us farm-fresh organic eggs, which put store-bought eggs, even organic ones, to shame. We also grow tomatoes, strawberries, green beans and many herbs, some of which we dry for tea. Mint, Tulsi, Thai basil, Italian basil, thyme, sage, etc. At a farmers’ market in Seattle I discovered a variety of pepper called Jimmy Nardellos that is the best sweet pepper haveI ever tasted. Turns out they are easy to grow so we’ve had them in the garden for the last two years. They are so good – all you need to do is pour some olive oil over them, salt and pepper, and run them under the broiler, or better yet, on a grill. They fry up great too.

    But the best is going into the mountains in July and August to pick wild huckleberries and then cooking crisps and pies with them (and eating them raw at breakfast). We usually manage to pick at least 2 gallons of them. When you think about it, there are so few wild foods available to eat in modern life… some fish, and maybe red meat if you are a hunter (I am not). Otherwise most of what is in the stores is so hybridized that it tastes nothing like what you can grow yourself.

    I love to cook and could go on about food for days…

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  17. Old Jake

    Thanks for the tip on the pectin. I have a hugely bounteous harvest of golden plums this year and despair of catching up with the supply despite eating as many as I can and filling the desiccator. Jam is next on the list but I can’t eat most jams due to excess sugar content. I have found the pectin at both of my local country stores.

    Reply
  18. ChiGal in Carolina

    the farmer’s market in Carrboro, NC has been a revelation. this state does have great produce–have never seen such lovely and varied tomatoes and the Covington sweet potatoes are to die for. and there are so many tender baby veggies, such as right now okra, a favorite of mine.

    plus you can design your own bouquet of field flowers for like $8–a steal!

    still, very much looking forward to hitting Michigan in peach and corn season next week–yum! plus that northern lake whitefish…

    hey, does anybody know whatever happened to plums? along with apricot my favorite kind of jam but I never see it in the stores any more (confess I have never done canning though I may try the freezer method–thanks, Jeri-Lynn!)

    Reply
  19. Olivia From Barcelona

    What a delight to read about farmers markets! Reminds me of the ones I went to when I lived in Washington, DC. I tried so many new things like rhubarb and garlic scapes.

    If you would like to try different tomatoes come down to New Orleans in early June. We have what we call Creole tomatoes; I cannot quite explain the taste (perhaps tomatoe-y), but we love them down here. so much so that we have a festival dedicated to them, but we do that for almost everything down here! Ha!

    Reply

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