When it comes to Williams-Sonoma cookbooks, I tend to expect the best. They always deliver with rich content, sharp writing, and incredible photography. Williams-Sonoma knows how to publish a cookbook. Which is why I was so excited to recieve a great write-up from Jodi Liano, author of the Williams-Sonoma Cooking from the Farmers’ Market cookbook. Here she shares her empassioned stance on why shopping at the Farmer’s Market and making the effort to shop local is worth her time—and yours.
“They might by ugly but you should smell ‘em!” said the sign on the apricots at the Farmers’ Market last week. They were like perfume, sweetly fragrant with flesh that was still just a bit resistant under the fuzzy skin. Sure there were spot and nicks on that fruit but I knew it hadn’t traveled far. In fact the farmer who grew them was right there taking my money, having picked the fruit just that morning. I could tell just by holding it up to my nose that it was going to be perfect-forget that squeezing method, which just bruises the fruit anyways.
What I adore about shopping at my local farmers’ market is that the food is local. It’s from my part of the world, it’s never been on an airplane, it doesn’t need weeks in a refrigerated pantry, and it isn’t always so darned perfect to look at. This feels the way food is supposed to feel. Those peaches you remember as a kid-do you think they were picked when they were hard as rocks and shipped across the country? Sweet corn that tasted like sugar certainly didn’t sit in a cold truck for a week before you ate it with your grandma. It’s tough to find fruits and vegetables this good at supermarkets these days. Mass production and constant demand has generated a lot of produce that is grown to be more “shelf stable”. It’s picked before it is ripe and grown with methods that keep it looking pristine, even if it means sacrificing taste.
Well, I for one can’t stand it. This is why I head straight to my farmers’ market, often without a list, and see what feels and smells good. I talk to the farmers to find out where the plums grew and when they were picked. I look at the chard and when I see little bugs or specks of dirt on it, I actually take that as a good sign! In “Cooking from the Farmers’ Market”, you’ll find simple charts that lay out the seasons when produce is at its best. These can vary locally, all the more reason to pop by your market and see what looks good that day.
Fruits and vegetables taste the best right after they’ve been picked. We know this inherently. It is the reason you see graphics of serene farms or meadows on the bottles and jars of so many commercially processed food products.
Local food, farm fresh food-it’s supports the farmers, it protects the environment, and it just plain taste better.
Jodi Liano is a a cooking instructor, a recipe developer and the author of Williams-Sonoma’s Cooking from the Farmers’ Market, Williams-Sonoma’s New Flavors: Vegetables and Williams-Sonoma’s Eggs cookbook. Her focus in on making the kitchen an approachable and fun place for everyone. To find more tips and recipes from Jodi, you can visit her blog MMM