shop. eat. locally.

I wrote the following article for the newsletter at work and felt it worth repeating.

Vintage Kitchen

The Retro Kitchen

It’s cool to have a retro kitchen, and I’m not just talking about your décor. I’m talking about the food you find there.

Remember the days of the neighborhood markets, produce at its peak, and being able to track the season by the food on the table? Technology makes most produce available all year and most of us are used to that. But with the green movement and an emphasis on using our resources well, approaching food as we did in the good old days is now all the rage.

If you are like me at all, calling something “green” or telling me “it’s the cool thing to do” is not enough to motivate me to change my ways. However, there are some legitimate reasons for eating local and seasonal food.

1) Shopping for local produce and products supports your local economy directly, specifically the local farmer.

2) Just off the vine (or tree or bush or from the ground) is best. The longer produce is ripening naturally, the higher the nutritional value. And, the less time off the vine for the nutritional value to decrease, the better. If you can’t get it from your garden, the next best is the local produce that is only hours old.

3) Bottom line: fresh produce just tastes better.

So here are few places to shop locally, locally:

Alabama Farmers’ Market
website: www.alabamafarmersmarket.org
phone: 205-251-8737
This market has history. Eighteen individuals started the Jefferson County Truck Growers Association in 1921. In 2010, there are 207 growers, all growing in the state of Alabama. The Alabama Farmers’ Market at 344 Finley Ave West is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year round. However, most vendors are open 5am-8pm in the summer and 6am-5pm in the off-season.

Pepper Place
website: www.pepperplacemarket.com 
phone: 205-802-2100 x230
Located around the intersection of 2nd Ave South and 29th Street downtown Birmingham, this market often offers live music and cooking demonstrations in addition to goods for sale. Pepper Place hosts different markets from Spring – Fall. This year, their Saturday market continues weekly through October 9th, 7am – noon, rain or shine. Their Harvest and Holiday markets begin October 16th.

East Lake Market at South Lake UMC
phone: 205-836-3201
Produce, plants, and other products can be found at this market. It is open Saturdays in May to October from 7am-noon in the parking lot of South East Lake United Methodist Church (7769 2nd Ave South, B’ham, 35206). This may be your scene if you live nearby or are looking for something with a neighborhood feel. 

Other markets can be located by a simple internet search, a glance through the yellow pages, or asking a neighbor. Just remember to take cash with you.

Shopping locally at a market can be a great outing with family or friends. You may even want to make an outing to a local berry farm to pick your produce! Check into area farms by calling or visit this website for a list, then call for hours and details: http://www.pickyourown.org/ALbham.htm.

To find out what foods are at their peak any time of year, ask someone at a market or go to http://www.simplesteps.org/eat-local. Click on the “Produce in Season” tab, then on your area.

If you can’t make it to a farm or market, or you crave strawberries in the dead of winter, do not feel guilty. Eating fruits and vegetables is the key regardless of when or where you get them, and the produce at your favorite grocery store is trustworthy. If shopping the farm or market is doable for you, enjoy the fun, the nostalgia, and your retro kitchen.

Stay tuned for more on another local market and the wonderful restaurant with which it is associated. And, I’m totally open to your suggestions. Share them here…please!

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