By Sheila Krehbiel
Ah, summer. ‘Tis the season to think globally, act locally. To buy local, eat fresh. To help the proverbial neighbor while helping yourself — especially when it’s time to shop for produce.
Wichita, it’s time to head on over to your local farmers’ market.
Instead of shoveling down prepackaged meals with typically unpronounceable ingredients, why not make life healthier and more palatable? One simple way to create nutritious and simple meals is by doing at least part of your shopping at a local farmers’ market. You may even be tempted to try a vegetable or herb that you’ve never had
before — do it.
The benefits of purchasing fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, cheeses and plants — plus other locally made crafts — from farmers’ markets, rather than grocery stores, are as plentiful as the baskets of homegrown tomatoes ripe for the picking. Farmers’ market produce items:
• Are just off the tree — literally. Some were probably picked that morning; how’s that for fresh?
• Probably don’t have pesticides or preservatives; ask each vendor about organic practices.
• Support our local economy by helping “the little guys” put food on their plates, rather than in the pockets of chain stores.
• Are plenteous and varied — sure, there are tomatoes and flowers, but there are other, less obvious choices that may bring your plate to life.
• Allow yourself to be tempted to try a new veggie or fruit.
• Get you out and about — going to the farmers’ market on a Saturday morning is always an adventure, and going on a weekday to help get you through the week is a fun distraction.
Wichita has several farmers’ markets to visit. While individual markets vary in size and offerings, they all offer fresh, organic produce, herbs and other items while helping to stimulate the local economy. Make sure to make the market rounds, as produce selection may vary from week to week. The two largest farmers’ markets are good places to start:
Old Town Farmers’ Market
1st St. and Mosley
May 9–October 10
Saturdays 7 a.m.–noon
Kansas Grown Farmers’ Market
21st St. N. and Ridge Road
Saturdays 7 a.m.–noon
Wednesdays 3–7 p.m.
8141 East 21st St.
Tuesdays 3–7 p.m.
Once you take your basket of goodies home, look for simple recipes that let the flavors of your bounty shine through. A good rule to follow: The fewer the ingredients, the better and the purer the flavor.
An easy plate of whole-wheat pasta with olive oil, freshly minced garlic, chopped fresh basil, homegrown tomatoes and freshly grated Parmesan is a basic but classic dish; you will be able to taste the just-picked freshness of the basil and might decide to spice it up with a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Pair the pasta with a lovely salad of local greens, cucumbers, green onions and carrots, and you will have a complete meal that is healthy, quick and a rival to any local eatery. Plus, you will have saved some money and helped out a local farmer in the process — a win-win shopping experience, farmers’ market-style.
Photos By Darrin Hackney