Giving Thanks for our Farmers Markets and the Recipe from our 11-20-16 MEWA Market Day

mewa-bannerAfter a great first market day on November 20, we are already busy getting ready the next Melrose-Wakefield Winter Farmers Market day on December 18. The market will then continue through mid-spring, taking place on January 15, February 19, March 19, and April 23 from 11:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. at Memorial Hall at 590 Main Street, Melrose. There is plenty of parking out back and we are conveniently located on the 136/137 bus line.

Check this spot in the upcoming weeks to see who will be at the market, what products will be featured, and just how much gift and holiday meal shopping you can get done at our next market day on December 18!

In the meantime, in the spirit of the recent Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I thought I’d share a list of things that make me thankful for all our local farmers and farmers markets, adapted from an article titled “10 Reasons to Support Farmers Markets,” published by the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture.

1. Taste Real Flavors
The fruits and vegetables you buy at our farmers markets are the freshest and tastiest available. This food is as real as it gets—fresh from the farm.

cooking-demo-ingredients-11-202. Enjoy the Season
The food you buy at our farmers markets is seasonal. It is fresh and delicious and reflects the truest flavors. Shopping and cooking with the produce from our farmers helps you to reconnect with the cycles of nature in our region.

3. Support Family Farmers
Because large agribusiness dominates food production in the U.S, small family farms have a hard time competing in the food marketplace. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce and other products and gives them a fighting chance in today’s globalized economy.

4. Protect the Environment
Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate. All this shipping uses large amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels), contributes to pollution, and creates trash with extra packaging. Food at our farmers markets is transported shorter distances and is generally grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth.

5. Nourish Yourself
Much food found in grocery stores is highly processed and grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification. Some of it has been irradiated, waxed, or gassed in transit. In contrast, most food found at our farmers markets is minimally processed, and many of our farmers go to great lengths to grow the most nutritious produce possible by using sustainable techniques, picking produce right before the market, and growing heirloom varieties.

ingredients6. Discover the Spice of Life: Variety
At our farmers markets you can find an amazing array of produce that you don’t see in your average supermarket: red carrots, a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, purple cauliflower, green garlic, bitter melon, loofa squash, and much, much more. It is a wonderful opportunity to savor the biodiversity of our planet.

7. Promote Humane Treatment of Animals
At our farmers markets, you can find meats, cheeses, and eggs from animals that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics, who have grazed on green grass and eaten natural diets, and who have been spared the cramped and unnatural living conditions of feedlots and cages that are typical of animal agriculture. And you can taste the difference!

8. Know Where Your Food Comes From
A regular trip to our farmers markets is one of the best ways to connect with where your food comes from. Meeting and talking to farmers and food artisans is a great opportunity to learn more about how and where food is produced.

wendy-cooking-web9. Learn Cooking Tips, Recipes, and Meal Ideas
Farmers, ranchers, and artisans at our farmers markets are often passionate cooks with plenty of free advice about how to cook the foods they are selling, as is your Market Manager.

10. Connect with Your Community
Both our indoor and outdoor farmers markets have become a community hub—a place to meet up with your friends, bring your children, or just get a taste of small-town life in the midst of our busy lives.

I would like to add that I am so very thankful for all the amazing farmers, specialty foods and artisan vendors, musicians, the folks behind the special programs and entertainment for kids, nonprofit and civic group guests, and all the dedicated and talented volunteers who make both our summer and our winter markets possible.

You’ll find news specific to our December 18 market date in this space next week, but for now, here is the recipe from the November 20 cooking demo. It was a hit, enjoyed even by an otherwise avowed hater of Brussels sprouts!

Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts Sauté

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups peeled and cubed butternut or winter squash
2 cups trimmed and halved Brussels sprouts
2 tsp maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

squash-sprouts-saute-doneHeat the oil in a frying or sauté pan and cook the onion over medium heat for a few minutes, raise the temperature just a bit, add garlic and stir it in until fragrant, add squash, and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the Brussels sprouts and continue cooking until to desired tenderness. Stir in the maple syrup, add at least a bit of salt to bring out the sweetness and then, with pepper, to taste.

Cook’s Notes: A heavier hand with the pepper, especially if freshly ground, will add a nice little kick in conjunction with the garlic. To speed up cooking time, add a cup of water and cover for a few minutes, then uncover and cook off the water before adding the maple syrup and other seasoning.

For more information about our winter market, see and sign up for our newsletter to get the latest updates.  And, don’t forget to check from time to time for updates about our farmers and vendors and news about next year’s June 17-October 14, 2017 market season. See you at the market!

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