Wednesday, September 2, 2009

This is a Keeper

This is the most bountiful time of year for fresh local produce. I was at the North Union Farmers Market on Shaker Square Saturday morning and was just knocked out by all the gorgeous stuff — onions, corn, green beans, eggplant, chard, zucchini, patty pan squash, peaches, nectarines, and of course tomatoes of every size and in shades of red orange, yellow and green. In a situation like this, my impulse is to buy everything in sight. The problem is using it up before fruit flies, mold, rot and limpness take hold. To me it’s a crime to allow food this good to go to waste. Further complicating the challenge is that not all produce is the same: leafy greens must be handled differently than leeks to make them last. A friend just turned me on to an absolutely great guide for how to best store most common fruits and vegetables published by Berkley Farmers’ Market. It’s a really clear, comprehensive and easy to use collection of instructions for handling fresh produce and keeping it at its peak. I’ve printed the three pages and put them on the shelf in my kitchen with the cookbooks.

The best part of this guide is that plastic bags are not used. There’s something fundamentally wrong with employing a petrochemical product that is clogging up landfills to tote and store sustainably raised local food. The result, it seems to me, is that one good for the earth act is canceled out by a bad one. We Americans are addicted to these handy little items — I read that it takes approximately 12 million barrels of oil to make the 100 billion plastic bags we use annually (according to the Worldwatch Institute). Now I have less reason to use them.
I just learned that there’s a new weekly farmers market setting up shop downtown this week. North Union is launching a satellite location on the Cleveland State University campus starting Thursday, Sept. 3, from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Look for it on Euclid Avenue between E. 18th and E. 21st streets. Perfect destination for a lunch hour stroll, snack, and shop — and thanks to the folks from Berkley, over-buying need not be such a big problem. For more tips about what to do with your farm fresh swag and a list of other area farmers markets, read my article Farm Fresh in the June issue of Cleveland Magazine. (Photo Courtesy of Barney Taxel, Taxel Image Group)

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