FARMERS' MARKET REPORT: WEEK OF MAY 17, 2009

SUSTAIN:

Although this word has become a popular term in the culinary landscape, it has been at the root of the counterculture of American living since agribusiness became the new face of agriculture in a 20th century modern world.  While  big business always has its “positive” effects, it also has dire effects and costs that have left our lands and water riddled with agricultural despair  and dis-ease:  topsoil erosion, groundwater contamination, neglect of living and working conditions for farm laborers and the outright sale and decline of family farms.
The growing movement in the past two decades toward sustainable agriculture has addressed both social and environmental concerns while making its way into  the mainstream mindset, a collective consciousness that we need support from in order for this vital way of thinking and living to thrive in a 21st Century global world.
Sustainability relies on the present population to meet its own needs while not compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.  Sustainable living means that the natural life cycles must take place in order for survival.
The farmers that we work with are  so in tune with these cycles that they are direct agents in the vitality of sustainable agriculture.  One of the major factors in their crop success lies in diversity.  Diversified farming practices was once a way of life.  Monoculture farming was and is a product of agribusiness.  Yet the risk of planting one crop can put a farm of any size out of business.  Growing a variety of plants can help sustain a farm economically and lower the fluctuation of supply and demand.  Crop rotation protects against crop failure and also buffers the farm biologically.
Micro seasons appear within the bigger seasons as smaller “buffer” crops have shorter life cycles and yield smaller harvests.  As chefs, just when we get really excited about some of these littler more unique crops they vanish, only to appear again in another micro season.
That is the beauty and also the foundation of sustainability.  Take only what you need, enjoy and honor it.  We all participate in an invaluable and fragile system that hangs in the balance of cooperation of human and nature.
Embrace it~
Melissa

MARKET UPDATE:

Root vegetables and some lettuces and greens are vanishing from the farmers’ tables including Black Kale from Coastal Organics, Baby Beets and Watermelon Radishes from McGrath.  Look out for many heirloom tomato varieties in all sizes from multiple farms to be taking stage as well as peaches, peaches and peaches from Fitzgerald Farm.
Entering:  Apriums, First Lady Peaches and Debutant Peaches from Fitzgerald Farms, Cherries from Simms Cherry farm, Baby Green Artichokes from Life’s a Choke, Green Onion Chives from Yasutomi Farm, Shunkyo Radishes and Black Plum Tomatoes from Jaime Farm, Pink Variegated Lemons, Meyer Lemons and Murcott Tangerines  from Garcia Organics, Russian Red Kale, French Leeks (slim, sweet and savory all in one!) and Oriental Mix (red and green frill!) from Windrose Farm, and All blues Potatoes and Red Spring Onions from Weiser Famly Farms.
Gapping: Fiesole Artichokes from Life’s A Choke and Bloomsdale Spinach from Weiser Family Farms
Exiting: Meiwa Kumquats, Paige Tangerines and  Gold Nuggets from Garcia Organics, Black Kale, Baby Turnips (Coastal Organics) and Watermelon Radishes from Mcgrath Farms

MARKET TOUR:

Artichokes abound at the market and no grower produces meatier, flavorful and presentable and 100% delicious artichokes than Daisy at Life’s A Choke Farms.  If you have yet to try the giant Lyon or Baby Green varieties there is no time like the present!
Baby Green Artichokes – round, meaty and mild, more heart than other varieties, as it is simply a tinier version of its larger counterparts that get more sun. 100% edible!

Baby Green Zucchini with Flower – Life’s A Choke Farms inject water into each squash blossom’s stem to ensure their freshness and livelihood. A wonderful and glamorous spring and summer menu accoutrement!!

French Leeks – from Windrose Farms, sexy and slim stems, juicy bulbs full of sweeter savory leek flavor.

Shunkyo Radishes – Shaped like a baby pink carrot: one moment it’s hot, the next it is sweet! My personal favorite!

Persian Watercress – Rutiz Farms, a hot peppery leaf that has been an equally hot seller at the market.  Very unique shape and taste!

Japanese Tomatoes – I just love these meaty tomatoes! They are the most beautiful tomatoes at the market right now. Great pre-heirloom season variety nicknamed the “Tough Boy” for its heat-resilient texture and succulence!

Pencil California Asparagus – Skinny, tender, tasty purple-tipped and LOCAL! So thin it cooks in a flash!

Gem Lettuces: Red and Green from Coastal Organics – these lettuces are unparalleled in their sweetness, rich colors, crisp textures and succulent leaves



Baby Celery – from Yasutomi Farm, more leaves than stalk, hydroponically grown, slender and almost herbaceously tasty stalks. The best baby celery available. Period.

Jerry’s Berries Strawberries (Galante variety) from Rutiz Farm – sweeter than candy!!
Jerry's Berries Strawberries from Rutiz Farm

Red Spring Onions – Weiser Family Farms

Fava Beans from Coastal & McGrath Farms
Fava Beans from Coastal Organics
Tom’s Terrific Tangerines – Polito Family Farm – still going strong, a definite juicy crowd pleaser among chefs.
Tom's Terrific Tangerines

Beylik Family Farms – Fillmore, CA

Persian Cucumbers – petite and crunchy! No seeds=sweet!
Japanese Tomatoes – “Tough Boy” brings hefty flavor, succulence and meatiness.
Yellow Tomatoes – sweet, tangy and heartier than your average yellow tomato!

Coastal Organics – Oxnard, CA

Fava Beans – beautiful, plump younger and non-starchy perfect beans.
Gem Lettuces – Green and Red, these are the perfect lettuce. Sweet, succulent and crispy center.

Coleman Family Farm – Carpinteria, CA

Green Garlic – These are spring super stars! Use the whites in sauces, on pizzas, sauteed for a steak! The greens are great for soups and stocks! Once again 100% savorily edible!
Broccoli Spigarello – Leafy broccoli with ALL the broccoli flavor, but more delicate and beautiful!
Red Butter (Piret) Lettuce – you won’t find this anywhere else! Awesome texture and buttery flavor!
Freckles Lettuce – Freckles! Sweet leaves, crispy inside. Perfect lettuce carrier for salads!
Lollo Rossa Lettuce – great for mixed salads, beautiful deep purple-red.
Treviso – so young, you’ll barely recognize it. Deep green with a deep blush.
Radicchio – note: small heads! Perfect for plate garnishes. Best Radicchio ever!

Fitzgerald Farms

First Lady Peaches – The first peach of the season and it is striking an impeccable balance of acidity and sweetness. Makes for a perfect bite every bite!

Garcia Organic Farm – Fallbrook, CA

Murcott Tangerines taste like a Paige, easier to peel!
Meyer Lemons – softer skin, brilliant, lemon orange sun-kissed color, sweet candied lemon scent and flavor!
Pink Variegated Lemons – Variegated pink and yellow skin, , beautiful pink exterior, tart lemon flavor, great for refreshing garnish.

Harry’s Berries – Oxnard, CA

Strawberries – Gaviota variety, deep dark red with a soft and sweet flavor appeal!

Jaime Farm – Ontario, CA

Mixed Baby Bunch Carrots – beautiful baby yellow, orange, red, and purple haze carrots with tops
Baby White Belly Radish – sweetest radish out there with edible greens, too makes these 100% delicious.
Shunkyo Radish – Shaped like a baby pink carrot: one moment it’s hot, the next it is sweet! My personal favorite!
Easter Egg Radish – mild, snappy flavor, vibrant color bouquet of pinks, reds and white.
Icicle Radish – looks like a white carrot (except the leaves)! Rich spicy flavor can be smoothed out with a little saute and butter!
Rainbow Chard – striking colors, hearty leaves.
Small Zucchini with Flower – great stuffed and sauteed! You have never seen any squash blossoms like this. Show-stealers!
Chive Blossoms – all the great mild chive flavor with a decorative bonus!! AND The flowers taste great too!
Onion Whistles – beautiful buds, large hallow stalks, amazing! just add water!

J.J.’s Lone Daughter Ranch- Bryn Mawr, CA

Cara Cara Oranges– a grapefruit and navel orange hybrid gives it its signature salmon colored flesh with all the great sweet juicy orange taste!
Next week! veriegated Pink Lemons!!

Life’s A Choke – Lompoc, CA

Baby Anzio Artichokes – a cross between green and purple artichokes, and very meaty!
Baby Green Zucchini with Flower – Life’s A Choke Farms inject water into each squash blossom’s stem to ensure their freshness and livelihood. A wonderful and glamorous spring and summer menu accoutrement!!
Lyon Artichoke with stem– large and in charge! This is a very jumbo, round, meaty variety from Southern France that yields a whole lot of heart!!
“California” Pencil Asparagus – Skinny, tender, tasty purple-tipped and LOCAL! So thin it cooks in a flash!
Baby Green Zucchini with Flower – Life’s A Choke Farms inject water into each squash blossom’s stem to ensure their freshness and livelihood. A wonderful and glamorous spring and summer menu accoutrement!!

McGrath Family Farm – Camarillo, CA

Wild Arugula – 3 Pound bag
Firecracker Lettuce – deep red, a bit frilly! Great for mixed salads!
Baby Bunch Candy Beets, Red Beets, Gold Beets, and White Beets
If you want beets, right now they are beautiful and priced to sell!!!
Fava Tendrils – sweet, soft and meaty flavor, great fish and meat accoutrement!! Last WEEK!
Red Okami Spinach – a uniquely shaped leaf with a deep red stem and veins – great for sauteeing!
Baby White Japanese Turnips

Mike and Son Egg Ranch – Ontario, CA

Brown Eggs farm fresh eggs that are unequivocally delicious with gleaming yolks! Each egg is individually candled! (5 doz case only)

Polito Family Farm – Valley Center, CA

Oro Blanco Grapefuit – golden-flesh, sweet and juicy – still going strong!
Tom’s Terrific Tangerines – juicy squared, easy to peel, and almost seedless – terrifically yummy!!

Rutiz Farm – Arroyo Grande, CA

Sugar Snap Peas – sweet and snappy. ’nuff said!
Persian Watercress– a unique variety, with a wonderfully spicy-sweet kick
Jerry’s Berries Strawberries– (pre-order only) worth every penny!! A must try strawberry!
Savoy Spinach – cut in small clusters of 3-4 leaves – beautiful!!
Romanesco – Jerry grows the perfect-sized heads, nicest ones at the market!

Simms Cherry Farm

Cherries – First picking of the season. Sweet, dark and delicious. Limited availability. Early bird gets the ….

Weiser Family Farm – Bakersfield, CA

Red Thumb Potatoes – red skinned on the outside, and pretty in pink on the inside
Russian Banana Fingerlings – baker size, but oh so creamy..
All Blues Fingerlings – Similar in color to the purples, a little veriegation inside, mild, moist and great cooking potato!
French Heirloom Fingerlings – red-skinned, baker-sized and white-fleshed, has a very silky texture ( I love these!!)
La Ratte Fingerlings – nutty flavors, stand out fingerling, one of the best potatoes, ever!!
Mix Baby Carrots – last week, then gapping for about a month
Micro Mix Baby Carrots – last week, then gapping for about a month
Red Spring Onions – slimmer stalks and pear shaped bulbs, very new!
Baby Purple Broccoli – aka Red Arrow Broccoli, which is the specific variety. It’s not purple all the way through, but the green stem and leaves contrast it very nicely. It has a mild flavor and the farmer recommends slicing thinly and serving raw, or do a very quick saute if desired to keep the color!!
White Beets – the big ol’ ones, great for roasting and pairing with other beets for a milder, sweeter flavor
Bloomsdale Spinach – gapping for about 3-4 weeks

Windrose Farms

French Leeks – slender, savory and sweet..oh so french!
Russian Red Kale – wow! Big, beautiful and hearty purple and red leaves!
Oriental Mix – ha! You want red and green mustard frill? Without all the unecessary stems? This is it! gorgeous “loose leaf” frill combo ready to spice up your culinary life!

Yasutomi Farm – Pico Rivera, CA

Baby Bok Choy – amazingly tender, great flavor, good for braising and hey, even the grill…
Baby Celery – more leaves than stalk, hydroponically grown, slender and tasty stalks. The best baby celery available. Period.
Green Onion Chives – mild, sometimes sweet green onion and chive hydroponic hybrid. great shelf-life too!

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