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The Incredible Journey: how many miles on that berry?

What in the world is this?” My hus­band asked as we opened our Com­mu­nity Sup­ported Agri­cul­ture (CSA) cooler to explore our weekly pro­duce share. As we began search­ing for recipes online about what to do with this week’s unique item: kohlrabi (Do you cook it? Eat it raw? What burst of fla­vor should we expect in our mouths?), he inhaled the con­tainer of per­fectly ripened, juicy rasp­ber­ries that were picked that morn­ing — even before I could rinse them. Good thing they were organic.

The aver­age meal trav­els 1,500 miles before some­one plops it on your din­ner plate. After 1,500 miles (think pack­ing the car and head­ing out on Inter­state 70 all the way to Den­ver, pass­ing through nine states and being sure to stop at pro­cess­ing, pack­ag­ing, and ship­ping plants along the way) I would undoubt­edly be exhausted, worn out and likely a bit foul smelling. Def­i­nitely not traits to look for when select­ing pro­duce. Instead, reach for the berries picked that morn­ing just down the street – per­fectly ripe, juicy and wait­ing to explode your taste buds.

Where do you find these tasty berries and every­thing else you typ­i­cally fill your shop­ping cart with for the week: berries, mel­ons, cher­ries, pears, apples, greens, car­rots, broc­coli, cucum­bers, beans, toma­toes, pota­toes, gar­lic, herbs and spices, jams, honey, eggs, milk, meat and poul­try, soap, maybe some ice cream, and flow­ers to brighten your din­ner table?

Luck­ily the farm­ers’ mar­kets, farm stands, pick-your-own farms, and CSA’s of Howard County are hap­pily sup­ply­ing all these neces­si­ties and much more with­out mak­ing you drive those 1,500 miles.

The chang­ing sea­sonal pro­duce you find at the farm­ers’ mar­kets, farm stands, and in your CSA share is one of the great plea­sures of sum­mers in Howard County. Now that it is early July berries are in full array. It is hard to believe that these boxes of plump, bright red and juicy berries burst­ing full of fla­vor are related to their super­mar­ket cousins that are air­lifted from dis­tant places in the mid­dle of win­ter and gassed to appear ripened in the pro­duce cooler at the gro­cery store. The joy that comes from finally bit­ing into the first straw­berry of the sea­son and savor­ing the good­ness of it is sheer reward.

Farm­ers’ mar­kets are won­der­ful cen­ters for com­mu­nity gath­er­ing as peo­ple recon­nect with the fresh fla­vors of sea­sonal pro­duce, and take the oppor­tu­nity to social­ize and share the lat­est com­mu­nity news. These farm­ers’ mar­kets pro­vide a real sense of local pride not eas­ily dupli­cated in a shop­ping cen­ter or gro­cery store. Get­ting fresh, local food is reas­sur­ing, not only because you are putting money back into our local econ­omy, but because you get to shake the farmer’s hand every week, eat more nutri­tious food, and ask for recipes, freez­ing and cook­ing tips, and sto­ries from the field. Many farm­ers are full of advice and typ­i­cally great cook­ing sug­ges­tions too so be sure to ask them what in the world to do with the kohlrabi.

Grab your shop­ping bags and intro­duce your­self to one of the five fresh­est mar­kets in the County. You’ll be sur­prised at the fla­vors you meet. Maybe you’ll even reach for a kohlrabi this week.

Hop­ing to meet our local farm­ers? Visit one of the five Howard County Farm­ers’ Mar­kets open Wednes­day – Sun­day at var­i­ous locations.

Look­ing for an out­door adven­ture? Find a You-Pick Farm in Howard County.

Not able to make your near­est farm­ers mar­ket this week? Stop at a farm stand on the way home from work.

Up for the full adven­ture? Join a CSA and own a share in a local farm.

Lind­say DeMarzo
July 2010

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Unplug.40% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while they’re turned off.