Why, a friend once asked me, would you go to a farmers' market and buy dirty, sandy produce when you can just buy it from the store?
A fair question from someone who's never visited a farmers' market. The produce there is freshly picked, sometimes just hours ago, and contains more nutrients than produce that’s traveled across the country (or across continents) for days and days. Eating with the seasons is easy when you shop at the farmers' market: You never regret spending $10 on blueberries that have no flavor because they were grown on the other side of the planet, trucked up here and put on your store's shelves two weeks after being picked.
Shopping at a farmers' market, I can talk to the farmer who grew my produce and ask for tips on storing and preparing it well. I discover new vegetables and varieties that I'd never see in the grocery store. Plus when I by directly from producers, I know that my dollars are going right back to the local economy, not sending it to a mega-corporation headquartered somewhere else. It feels good to shop local!
Also, going to the farmer's market is fun. It's a scene!
I just visited the Baltimore Farmers’ Market and even this early in the season, I found plenty of vegetables, fruit and herbs full of antioxidants (the fancy word for chemicals that prevent cell damage) and phytonutrients (fancy word to describe chemicals in plants that protect us from disease and help our bodies work better).
One of my favorite May crops is asparagus. This perennial favorite contains folate, a B vitamin best-known for preventing birth defects that also helps to create just about every cell in our bodies. The vitamin K in asparagus helps with wound healing, especially useful for runners like myself who tend to take a tumble or two running trails. Plus they're full of fiber, which is great for managing cholesterol and keeps the GI train running on time, if you know what I mean.
When your choosing asparagus, look for firm spears--no wrinkly skin--and the buds at the top should be tightly closed. Both thick and thin stems have their merits, so try them both! The thicker stems may need a bit of peeling, but preparation is otherwise the same. These beauties came from Gardeners Gourmet and were roasted and eaten the day I bought them. And they were delicious.
- 1 big bunch of asparagus
- Optional: 1 teaspoon of virgin coconut oil, melted
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment paper (nothing sticks to parchment meaning you need very little oil and clean-up is a cinch!). Wash your asparagus well under running water, removing any grit. Use your hands to snap off the woody ends, using a knife or vegetable peeler to remove any woody bits of skin on thicker stems.
Lay the asparagus on the lined cookie sheet, giving a little space between each spear.* Brush or use a spoon to lightly drizzle the coconut oil over the spears. Add salt and pepper to taste and and pop into the oven.
Allow the spears to roast for about 15 minutes. Thinner spears will cook more quickly than thick ones, so adjust your cooking time as needed. They should be vibrant green and still snap a bit when you bite into a spear--best way to test done-ness is to take a bite!
Enjoy! And if you need some support in adapting a more nutritious diet, get in touch to schedule a consult!
*If you crowd the pan, as the spears heat up, they'll release steam and steam each other instead of roasting. By giving a little space, you're more likely to have lightly caramelized asparagus instead of just steamed.