New Vendors This Week
Jose Montoya’s Produce is replacing Herman, who has had to drop some markets. Please welcome Jose and his great produce — it’s tops in quality and variety, and we know he brings only what he grows on his own farm.
Vendors Absent This Week
Stag Hill Soaps will sit this one out -– Kathleen rotates with Celeste every other week.
On the Way In and Out
Look for more cherry tomatoes to arrive soon, and Alma may even have the first early tomatoes of the year.
Keep an eye out for sweet corn and peaches too — none of the guys was willing to venture a day, but the best of summer will be here soon. We may have seen the last of the strawberries, but the raspberries and blueberries are coming fast. And Mike Burner is finally picking his sustainably grown produce out in Clark County and is bringing lovely and tasty potatoes and sweet potatoes. Ask Mike about his farming methods; he comes as close as you can to organic farming without the certification.
This Week at the Market
Just a word about Comfort Mix Snack Mixes. Terri has created some great sensory delights mixing sweet and salty, crunchy and crispy. One of her most ardent admirers at our Springfield market calls the mixes “grown-up crack.” I think she means that as a compliment. Terri is hoping to branch out into some other offerings soon and with the joy she brings to her baking, I have no doubt they will be spectacular.
From the Market Master
Just when we need it most — as our local farmers are bringing their bounty to farmers’ markets throughout the Northern Virginia area, we are reminded once again why it is worth that extra dollar per pound to buy local. Last month Taylor Farms Retail recalled packaged, organic spinach due to concerns about salmonella contamination. This reminded me of the answer I provided to a question just last week about organic produce at our markets. Even before the details of this recall were released, this is what I had to say:
There are very few small certified organic farmers in Virginia or any other state, for that matter, since the federal government took over certification about 15 years ago and made it nearly impossible financially for a small farm to become certified. We do have some organic farmers at our markets, but most are in western Virginia counties and have not started picking much produce yet.
We do have several sustainable farmers who farm organically but are not permitted to use the term “organic.” At Reston, we have Heritage Farm and Kitchen and Fossil Rock Farm. At Lorton we have Blenheim Organic Gardens. At Centreville and Bristow we have Holly Brook Farm. At Oakton we have Heritage Farm and Kitchen and another farm in Prince William County coming soon. Only at Springfield do we not have a sustainable or organic farm.
You rarely see an organic fruit grower in this area, as they need to spray for fungal diseases in this humid climate — but most only spray early in the season and not throughout the season as the big growers do.
Even our farmers from the Northern Neck of Virginia use very little fertilizer, fungicides, or insecticides because they are too expensive.
The great thing about shopping at farmers’ markets is the opportunity to ask each farmer exactly how they grow their crops, and it will vary across crops so ask about specific items if you want to know. Personally I feel much more comfortable buying anything local than buying certified organic from China or Mexico — how can we believe their claims if we are not allowed to inspect the farms? And you also don’t have to worry about E. coli or salmonella in your salad greens, tomatoes, or peppers from a local farm.
Many of you have read this before in this space, but it does bear repeating when we see how little that “organic” label means. Researching the spinach recall, I found a story about another recall of salad mixes containing listeria just a few weeks ago. The good news is that they have recalled the products. With at least a five-day delay, that spinach is not even going to be in your refrigerator mainly because — as I have also mentioned before — store-bought produce won’t last much longer than that.
Here is my point in a pea pod: If you want to know what you are eating, if you want to be able to trust your fresh-food sources, and if you want to be able to learn everything you can about how that food was raised or grown, then your local farmer has the best buys around. This is preventive medicine at the most basic level; not only will local food contribute to your good health, it will not contribute to your ill health.
So pay us a visit this week, meet those farmers, and thank them for working so hard to keep you healthy. You can’t do that in the grocery store.