Locally Grown

Local Dining…Is It Winning?
2011/05/26, 7:53 am
Filed under: Local Food Commentary

Quick post today…

Are you dining locally?  Are you dining locally at locally owned restaurants which use locally sourced produce and meats?  Are you keeping your family dollars flowing into the larger family of your local economy?  Take a hard look at yourself.  Take a look around you.  Do your friends and co-workers strive to rep local, or are they stuck on the chain gang?

Wait, what?  You didn’t know that dining locally doesn’t necessarily mean that you are eating local products?  This is true, and a sad truth at that.  How can you tell that you are getting legitimate, local food?  Ask questions.  Get informed.  Call the restaurant and ask (politely) what local products they use and from what purveyors.  Ask your server.  Ask food professionals and/or food bloggers.  But Get To Know Your Food and Rep Local.

Dining locally isn’t winning unless you are really getting local foods.  Truth.

Farmers’ Market Pre-Game Pep Talk!
2011/05/04, 8:30 am
Filed under: Dining Tips, Local Food Commentary | Tags: ,

As a grandperson said to me once in my childicular years, “Excuses are like dentures.  Everybody here has them, and the harder you bite down the worse they hurt you.”  Thusly I will not be biting down on or spitting out any excuses as to why this Blog has become wordly arid.  Instead, we here at Locally Grown have decided to break another stretch of muted bloggedness with your very own

Farmers’ Market Guide To Attending The Farmers’ Market!!

(and pep talk)

  • The DMZ (That is Des Moines Zone for all of you who have forgotten the jargon used up in this piece) has one of the largest farmers’ markets in the country.  This giant mess of goodness attracts from 10,000 to 25,000 people to the Court Avenue district in Downtown Des Moines every Saturday from 7am to noon.  It is complete madness, a mob of people with giant dogs and strollers, and hangovers, and babies, and big sunglasses, and stainless steel water bottles, and reuseable shopping bags, and messenger bags, and sometimes even under-the-eyes bags all converging on the same few blocks to buy fresh produce, watch musicians perform, find some good hangover food, show off their really cool triple-wide baby strollers, walk their giant bear-dogs, buy some cupcakes, beef jerky, salsa, hand-made textile-type items…etc, etc, etc.  The Des Moines Downtown Farmers’ Market is nothing short of a spectacle all rolled up in a not very neat package meant to deliver you from your homes earlier than you probably want to be out of your home and around 24,999 other people.  It’s an amazing experience, and I urge you to get your possibly-sorry buns out of your toasty oven of a bed and EXPERIENCE IT.

    Now, those tens of you who were with me at this time last year may remember my attitude towards the market being…let’s say…slightly askew from this year’s cheery-esque something or other.

    (I was going to post some links to last year’s blog posts regarding this subject here, but can’t seem to find them due to the distraction of reading other posts and laughing out loud.  Just go to the left and click on the may or june 2010 links in the “compost heap”)

    Well, I am a little excited for the Farmerz Market due to this: I will be working it under my own employ.  Come visit me at 3rd and Court Ave.

    Oh, this isn’t really about that.  This is about you enjoying your Market Experience.

    Keys to a good DTFM Experience:

    • Have some patience.  This is definitely #1 on the list
    • Check under produce sellers’ tables for freshly opened boxes from Loffredo’s Produce.  These people are fine to buy from , but you will be better served by ACTUALLY buying locally grown food which is what the Market was founded on.
    • Step out of your comfort zone.  Try foods and drinks that you wouldn’t normally seek out on your own.  DO YOU REALLY NEED TO EAT ANOTHER BREAKFAST BURRITO?
    • Have a loose game plan.  This may take a few trips to formulate, but plotting your parking, point of entry, and having an idea of what vendors you definitely want to visit  will keep you on point and out of the Zombie Zone. (the mindless wanderers who seem to not notice the other tens of thousands trying to get around them)
    • Check the Weather Forecast but don’t marry it.  We all know how fickle the South Central Iowa weather patterns can be, and how un-accurate our local weather people can be.  Don’t be scared off by a little drizzle or a chilly morning, just dress appropriately and follow your game plan.  The market goes on rain or shine, and the vendors work very hard to serve you.  Also, a “bad” day is the perfect time for you agoraphobes to get  your DTFM fix, as the attendance is markedly sparse…and you can hide under your rain ponch and pretend you are the only one there.
    • Ask Questions It is ok to engage in conversation with your market vendors, in fact most of them are very enthusiastic about answering customer questions.  You may get some good tips or recipes for using the produce you have aquired, or find out what local stores carry that home made jam for which you might have a late night emergency craving.
    • BRING YOUR OWN BAGS to carry your purchases.  don’t be “that” person at the Farmers’ Market carrying a bunch of plastic bags.  Uncool.
    • Pay attention to your surroundings and remember that you are not the only person walking along at your own pace.  There are thousands of other paces being paced and people tend to run in to each other or run over feet with strollers, or trip over dogs.  Watch where you are going, and pull over to let faster peoples pass.
    • Don’t be a dick.
    • Applaud the performers.
    • Buy Things

    and most of all, HAVE FUN.

The Cook.