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It seems as if summer has gone by so quickly thus far. It really is hard to believe that we are already into the middle of August.
With that, I hope that you have had an enjoyable summer so far. Although us farmers could use some rain for our crops to succeed, it has been nice being dry for outdoor activities. Have you had the opportunity to visit any local farm stands, or farmers markets yet this year?
I try to support farm stores throughout the year, but this time of year I seem to frequent them a lot. Not only do I enjoy being able to have fresh fruit on my yogurt parfaits each morning, but it is so nice to have a variety of fresh veggies readily available for lunches and dinners as well. When visiting a local farm store/stand/market, whatever it might be, not only are you supporting individuals to fulfill their small farming dreams, but you also are getting you and your family fresh, quality, healthy and nutritious foods. Ninety-nine percent of all United States farms are owned by individual people, or families/small partnerships. Therefore, you are supporting people just like you in your community who are working hard to feed us.
Not only is this time of year a great way to be able to have fresh fruits and veggies in your fridge, and on your table daily, but it is also a wonderful time to stock up and preserve them to have throughout the rest of the year. I know many people who can a lot of items such as peaches, green beans, etc. If you have the knowledge and time to do this, it is a great way to not only financially support the small farmer for the rest of the year, but you will also have quality foods available to you anytime you need them. If you are anything like me, I don’t have a lot of extra free time, and never took interest into canning, so I stockpile fresh fruits and veggies this time of year and freeze them to preserve them for when I eat to use them throughout the year.
It seems as if a lot of people think that you can just can, or freeze, the basic fruits and veggies and serve them as side dishes throughout the year, and therefore might think that they really won’t use that much of them to make it worth their while. In reality, canning and freezing fresh market products really gives you a lot of room for versatility through the year.
For example, I dice and freeze several different types of tomatoes into small packages. As the year goes on and I can no longer find tomatoes at farm stores, I add them into recipes such as chili. I also then have them to add into sauce to give it a fresh, robust taste, and have the option to make salsa mid-winter. As for fruits, I freeze a lot of peaches and them pull them out as the year goes on to make recipes like peach crisp and grilled peaches. There are so many different ways that you can incorporate these items into your diet.
All in all, before the season of farmers markets starts to wind down, I encourage you to stop out to at least one, if not more. Not only will you most likely be able to connect with the farmer who actually grew your food, but they will be able to answer any questions that you may have as well. Supporting these types of business will support the individual and the community that they are in too. Moreover, being able to pull these food items from your cupboard, or freezer, will in the long run probably save you money as well, versus several grocery trips and I guarantee will retain its fresh flavor.
Submitted by Julie Holler, a member of the Trumbull County Farm Bureau Board of Trustees.
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