Last week while on vacation I made two separate trips to my local farmer's market. I shop there as much as possible in the summer, and it's one of my very favorite things to do.
I'm a huge believer in eating local. It's better for the environment, since the closer to home food is produced the less fossil fuels are used to transport it. It's better for the local economy and small farmers, keeping the money in our community and out of the hands of big agribusiness. It's better for our health, since food that doesn't have to travel long distances can be picked when it's at it's peak of freshness and ripeness. And food that is in season and lovingly grown just tastes better! Our market is a wonderful resource for great food and for building relationships with the people who grow it.
Here's a little pictorial stroll through the Pee Dee farmer's market on a beautiful summer day!
Loads and loads of early tomatoes. Most are still coming from John's Island, SC this early in the year.
Locally grown heritage pork sausages!
Fresh eggs, cheeses, and other meats are available, too.
We still have rice plantations in South Carolina! How cool is that?
Pickles of all varieties abound....
...and this is the South. You have to have lots and lots of places to buy these:
Speckled butter beans, like the ones here,
nearly killed me when I was growing up. My grandfather Lewis ("Pa") grew what seemed like acres of these, and expected the entire family to help him with planting, weeding, picking, shelling, blanching, and freezing the harvest. We always had enough to fill everyone's chest freezers with quarts and quarts of them to eat through the winter, but at the time everyone would have chosen to forgo some of the beans for less work in the summer! I'm not sure what was worse, picking them in the blazing heat of July (stooped over the low growing bushes) or shelling them afterwards. I well remember how sore and stained your fingernails and cuticles would be after a whole day of shelling, but the heat and insects and bending over involved in picking made that an equally distasteful job! My grandfather expected his children (my mom and aunt) and their children and spouses (my aunts, uncles, and cousins) as well as grandma to spend a couple of intense weeks in midsummer helping bring in his garden's bounty. No one minded things like corn, tomatoes, squash, onions, etc...but the butter beans and field peas....well, those were another story! Now, of course, I look back and admire his dedication to growing so much food for his family every year, as well as the fact that he continued doing so well into his old age. I never see butter beans without thinking of (and missing) my Pa.
This high school girl had a sweet, outgoing personality to match her sunshiny smile! Lots of farmer's kids work summers at their family farm booth. Not only are they the most polite, mature, friendly kids you'll ever meet...there's not an iphone in sight. Amazing!
And oh, the flowers for sale!
I've watched this young man grow up. He's the grandson of farmers that I've bought vegetables from for years. In fact, I remember the day he was born. His grandfather was working alone in the booth that morning, and when I asked about his wife, he told me she was visiting their baby grandson that had just been born. The little guy is growing up fast! He was almost too shy to let me take his picture. I had to talk him into it. (Just look at that bashful sideways grin!)
Hyman Vineyard's booth. They sell local muscadine wines, as well as jellies, preserves, sauces, and juices. The wine is my favorite though!
Seafood is brought in fresh from the coast, but only on weekends. Unfortunately I was shopping on a Monday!
The early peaches that are available now are juicy and divine. Tomorrow I'll post pictures and a recipe for the blackberry peach dumpling cobbler I made with fruit purchased on this market trip. It tasted just like summer!
As I was leaving the market (laden with goodies) I had to stop and take a picture of this beautiful afternoon sky.
And here is one final photo: most of my haul, piled on the kitchen counter when I got home: