Yesterday was an excellent day, if I must say so myself. I was feeling well enough to go out, and looked well enough for Laura to let me out. Outside of a little dizziness, I think I am back on track and ready to roll. No more soups! I can graduate to real food, like stews. 😀 That was great news, as yesterday was the first Wayland Winter Farmer’s Market at Russell’s Garden Center. Hot dog!
We have plenty of food still, some lingering root vegetables and lots of frozen stuff, so we went with only one major food in mind: fresh greens. While we love our frozen greens in soups, stews, fritatta, etc, there is something divine about winter greens. They are so sublimely sweet and crisp. Not quite the lush verdant flavor of spring greens, which tells you the plant is chock full of chlorophyll for the summer ahead. No, this is a more delicate flavor that plays well with the rich foods of winter. Laura and I stood around after got home and nibbled on spinach stems from Red Fire Farm, relishing the refreshing sweetness.
Before I put on a photo parade of the market, I will let you in on the other reason we love going to this market. When the weather is overcast, cold and dreary, like it was yesterday:
We get to sit around in this fabulousness:
We like to browse and chat for a bit, then sit on one of the benches in the greenhouse and enjoy the plants or the koi pond. It makes for a really nice winter activity, with all of the shoppers bustling around, the greenery, the food and great atmosphere.
We ended up buying spinach, baby salad mix, a kohlrabi, popcorn (!), three types of cheese from Lawton’s Family Farm and a roll of Amish Rolled butter. Laura and I discussed the butter for a while before deciding to buy it, I think because we were under the impression it was made by Amish communities. Turns out, it is Amish-style, not Amish made.
I have yet to decide if we should have bought it, given our slot requirements. Minerva Dairy is a conglomerate of small dairies in Ohio, but it is certainly not a small business. Not from New England. And it is extremely difficult to tell if it is a sustainable business in any way. We decided to make it two full slots, since it was a fair amount of butter. We are not using it right now, as it has been cut up and tucked into the freezer. We’ll have to think on this one for a little while, and use it as an example of how we should be more cautious when we buy things at farmer’s markets. There are other stories out there about similar experiences, and this article from Harvest sums it up quite nicely. (Update: There is a nice comment from the Market Manager below, who was kind enough to comment on our concerns. I was happy to find out that the market vendors are screened before selling to prevent any resale of non-local produce. It rebuilds my great faith in the marketing system in Massachusetts. I am excited about this weekend! More plants and greenery!)
We won’t let it go to waste, now that we have it, but it will be a kick in the pants to not get overwhelmed by the excitement of new market and really try to think things through. Its hard to research everything, and we are trying to branch out from our safety farms. Mistakes will be made, I suppose, and we will have to take it in stride. I think I am most upset about the misleading advertising by the farm who sold it to us. It was labeled “Amish Rolled Butter”, and the way it was presented was that it was a great thing to buy, really like buying locally, except there are no Amish in Massachusetts. Maybe, though, that is what we wanted to hear. We wanted to try the butter, so we took his words and made them into what we wanted to hear. I’ll never really know, but more caution will be used in the future. We’ll have to talk about it more, but as it stands, we’ll not buy from that farm stand anymore, learn form the experience and enjoy our butter.
Let me tell you, atonement-requiring sin or not, this is some damn good butter. Guilt aside, it is probably some of the best butter I’ve had from a large company.
What is your opinion? Have you ever bought something from a farmer’s market, only to discover it was from California or Mexico, and being re-sold? We’ve been doing well at teasing those things out, but we goofed this time! The market was that fun and exciting!