Saturday, March 5, 2011

Day 5: Eat Local Project

The day I've been waiting for since I began this project dawned sunny and warm. The Central Phoenix farmer's market happens every Saturday morning and Wednesday evening and takes up a whole city block with local farmers, food artisans and various other vendors.

Although visiting the farmer's market with children sounds poetic, it's usually a disaster in my experience. Ideally I make a quick jaunt around the market to get a general feel for what's available and then ponder how these foods could be put together for a tasty dinner. With a preschooler in tow, all of my creative energy is diverted to yelling, "No, don't feed that dog your cookie!" or "Please don't sample the coffee!" But today I went alone, blissfully alone.

I met several farmers. Casey and Melissa from Maya's Farm helped me select some native dried Tepary beans and complementary savory spring onions and cilantro. I also snagged a bunch of edible flowers from Maya's. At the Mountgrove Arcadia farm stand I sampled some amazing white grapefruit and bought five for a $1. For a salad I purchased a huge bunch of arugula for $2 from some beautiful Somali women. Through an organization called the International Rescue Committee and its New Roots Farm Program, local Somali Bantu farmers can support themselves through farming. Last year, Michelle Obama toured a New Roots farm in San Diego and praised it as a model for the nation and the world. Who knew that supporting local farmers could be so delicious and inexpensive?

For the main course I purchased half a dozen tamales from The Tamale Store, which was voted best tamale's in the Valley by a local paper. I bought green corn and cream cheese; roasted pepper, mushroom and jack cheese; and chicken with green chile. When I asked the man selling them if the ingredients were grown locally, he said "I sure hope so." Not very reassuring. But at the end of the day, by feeding my family, I'm helping this guy feed his. So even if a Sysco truck delivers the masa harina to his restaurant each week, I feel better about it than I would padding the pockets of chain restaurant stockholders.

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