Saturday, January 9, 2010

FRAM - buying local

I like the idea of buying local but if I'm being honest, we still do most of our shopping at our favorite warehouse club..mainly because of cost. When feeding a crew of 7, cost is a consideration. But, it is my new goal to buy local when we can. Today, I braved the freezing cold temps to hit FRAM, the Farmer's portion of the Riverside Arts Market in Jacksonville, Florida. (The artist's portion of the Arts Market is currently on winter hiatus until spring.)

The biggest plus to just having the farmer's there was that I was able to drive directly onto market grounds. With the vast majority of booths spots vacated, there was PLENTY of parking. It was rather convenient.

I think there were 10 vendors there, mostly produce tables but there was a coffee seller and someone selling granola.

I bought a little from most of the veggie vendors present. I avoided the largest one because they seemed a little more 'Florida' local vs Jacksonville or our surrounding areas. And, I don't know...their stuff seemed a little too perfect...more like grocery store produce. I wanted stuff that looked like it was local, fresh from the ground with dirt.

I was especially drawn to this little table from Down to Earth Farm. Somehow I ended up on their email list and I have enjoyed their upbeat attitude. Their latest email included info on how they are trying to save their crops from the freezing weather. So of course I wanted to purchase from them. Their stuff looked really exotic to me. As a child, my veggie consumption consisted of iceburg lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, canned green beans and canned corn. No, I am not kidding. As an adult, I am much more adventurous but I wasn't quite sure what to make of the unfamiliar veggies in front of me.... cone shaped cabbage, rutabaga, kohlrabi, beets and whatever else was there. OK, I've heard of rutabaga & beets but I didn't know what I would do with them. I opted for a $4 bag of prewashed mixed greens & a $2 cone shaped cabbage since I do know what to do with those at least.

I purchased from other vendors, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, peppers. All in all, I spent $13 and bought a LOT of veggies. When my hands were full, a FRAM volunteer offered me a free canvas tote bag for my goodies. Nice! I came home, thawed my frozen hands, arranged my produce and took a pic for my 365 day project. My kids immediately wanted cucumbers. I made myself a salad with the mixed was delicious, absolutely wonderful. Not bitter at all like so many mixed salads can be.

So what are my plans with all these veggies... I plan on making salsa with the tomatoes & hopefully canning some. The green beans...oh the green beans...I can almost taste how yummy they will be using the Pioneer Woman's fresh green bean recipe. mmmmm mmmmmm

FRAM is open from 9 a.m. - noon on Saturdays. I'm pretty sure I'll be there as often as possible. It feels good to buy local. And maybe next time, I'll buy a rutabaga. Well....maybe. ;)

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