Shopping locally at Austin’s farmers markets and farm stands is a project I’ve been telling myself to undertake for quite some time.
I’m doing this for a few “want” reasons:
1. I want my husband & I to eat healthier. We’re well into middle age and we need to be more cognizant of what we put into our bodies. It’s not that we eat badly; it’s that we can always eat better. (This is not to say occasional indulgence is off the table.)
2. I want to teach myself to cook more seasonally. Like most people, I simply go to the store and grab whatever’s there, regardless of the season. Cooking more seasonally will force me to be more creative in the kitchen. That’s fine by me.
3. I want to support local farmers, ranchers, and vendors. The food is better, safer, you know where it comes from, and shopping locally is good for the environment. Less carbon footprint along with encouraging organically raised produce and meat.
This is most definitely a project that will be evolving over the year (and, hopefully, beyond). Right now, I’ll just visit in-town (Austin) markets and farm stands. As time goes on, I’ll travel further afoot, but always within a 50-mile radius so I can make meals at home with the largest variety of local options. The exception will be if I am traveling out of town for whatever reason. I’ll plan on looking around any markets in those towns and posting them as a travelogue.
The other thing (as one of my sisters pointed out to me) is that I should post recipes of everything I make from what I buy. Since I missed the obvious here, I don’t have any recipes for January. But, I will starting in February. I did take pictures of some of the meals I made, though.
While thinking about the markets and stands I was going to patronize, I thought about the ones I know best and/or have heard about the most: SFC Market in downtown Austin, Hope Farmers Market, Boggy Creek Farm, and Springdale Farm. They’re all excellent markets and stands with a wide variety of not just produce, but also locally made baked goods, local artisan products, locally legendary homemade treats, and locally sourced organic meat. Not all of the places I’ve visited have everything I’ve listed here, but you’ll be happy with what you find.
A note: I decided that when I shop at the markets and stands, I wouldn’t buy any more perishables than I could cook in 2 meals (unless I can freeze them – like meat). Shopping at these markets and stands can cost a little more than the local grocery store (but worth it), so I choose not to buy too much so I can make sure the food doesn’t spoil before I cook it. I’m not too keen on wasting food or money.
SFC Farmers Market, January 3
I went to my first farmers market of the year early (they open at 9). My general strategy for going early is to avoid the crowds and to potentially get the best of what’s available.
Wednesday, January 7
I went to one of my favorite places in Austin, Springdale Farm. It’s a beautiful place that I just don’t visit often enough. Owners Glenn and Paula Foore are simply great people who have weathered many storms to make their farm a success.
When I arrived, there was a large tour at the farm that morning. They bought a lot of produce before I got there, so there wasn’t as much for me to buy. Good for the Foores, not so much for me. But, I still managed to find some wonderful produce.
Sunday, January 11
Hope Farmers Market is one I have heard about for a long time but never visited. My friend Phil is a volunteer at the market and has been encouraging me to stop by. It’s a smaller market at Plaza Saltillo in east Austin with, like the SFC Farmers Market, a variety of vendors.
There weren’t too many people at the market when I arrived. It was a cold, damp morning; so, that, no doubt, kept many people inside or they waited until later to come out.
As a bonus that morning, Austin Dog Rescue was having a sort-of open house. Lots of very sweet dogs ready for adoption. If my husband and I were in the market for a dog, I certainly would’ve taken a closer look.
I didn’t buy too much at Hope. I still had produce left over from earlier in the week and didn’t want to take a chance on not preparing it before it went bad.
But, I did get some great bread and protein.
Wednesday, January 22
After taking off for a few days for teaching and travel, I once again headed towards east Austin to my favorite farm stands: Boggy Creek and Springdale Farms.
Boggy Creek Farm is one of the oldest urban market farms in the country. It was established in 1992 by Carol Ann Sayle and Larry Butler. They are two of the loveliest people you could ever meet. Larry’s homemade condiments are legendary in Austin. Especially his Smoked Dried Tomatoes. He can’t keep up with the demand.
After finishing at Boggy Creek, I headed over to Springdale Farm. I was there about 5 minutes, so I didn’t take any photos.
Looking forward to February!