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Farmers markets offer fresh, tasty produce

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This is the 15th Annual National Farmers Market Week. Find where the closest market is.

I’ve been taking advantage of the Denton Farmers Market this summer. It’s the best place I know to find tomatoes that taste like tomatoes. And the ones I’ve picked up so far have not disappointed. In fact, I just polished off two tomato sandwiches for lunch. The second was to use up the rest of the tomato that wouldn’t fit on the first one. I don’t like to waste a good tomato and putting it the refrigerator is simply wrong. Folks who refrigerate tomatoes should just stick with the ones they buy in the supermarket, the ones that kinda resemble a tomato but taste like something entirely different.

Anyway, I still have several good tomatoes left for a tossed salad for dinner this evening.

I’ve enjoyed zucchini and yellow squash several times this summer, which, along with an onion and sliced tomatoes, wrapped in foil and grilled with some olive oil and honey dribbled on top, provide an excellent accompaniment to most any main dish you can imagine.

Blueberries and peaches from that same stand have enhanced my morning cereal and proved impossible to turn down slathered with whipped cream.

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A locally grown cantaloupe, picked at the height of sweetness and before the meat begins to turn a bit mushy, may be one of the best treats of summer. The aroma and taste take me back to 1950s Anderson County, S.C., where my dad always planted a few rows of cantaloupes. I think the variety was Edisto, developed by Clemson University plant breeders at the Edisto Experiment Station in Blackville.

We watched the fruit develop from bloom, to tiny bulb to baseball size and then to a melon as big as a bowling ball. We watched the smooth skin begin to web over as green began to give way to the faintest hint of yellow before turning almost golden, at which time whichever one of us got to the field first that morning picked it. It was gone before dark.

I’ve had several melons this summer that were almost that good.

In addition to the freshness I expect from farmers market produce, I enjoy the variety, the colorful displays of red tomatoes, maroon beets, purple turnips, orange peaches, yellow melons, white onions, and various hues of bright green to amber squash. It’s an artistic display of nutrition.

I’m not alone in my appreciation of farmers market offerings. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Farmers Market Directory, the number of local farmers markets has increased by 76 percent since 2008 and currently lists 8,268 markets.

A USDA report says those numbers reflect a continued demand and growth of farmers markets in every region of the country.

A lot of folks appreciate the taste of a locally grown, tasty tomato. And this week is a good time to show folks who bring produce into these markets how much we appreciate their efforts. This is the 15th Annual National Farmers Market Week. Find where the closest market is. It’s probably only a short drive away. Go early so you can be certain of good selection and stock up. Make certain to take advantage of those tomatoes before they’re gone for the season and the only option is the supermarket. And if you need a recipe for a tomato sandwich, let me know.

 

 

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