Well, the title may be a bit of an understatement but make no mistake that Michael Pollan’s 2006 bestseller “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” was the first dagger thrown in the local foods movement. I mention it today as this month marks the 10th anniversary of the book and there is an updated edition now in bookstores.
I also mention it since it is the main reason that the BFM exists today. This book became the lead mantra and raison d’etre of the Market’s founders including my wife, Deb. I vividly recall coming home many an evening during the time of her first reading of the book and hearing about the latest sacrilege committed by our conglomerated food processing industry. From the evils of too much corn to the shoddy treatment of livestock. In the course of these conversations I learned a whole new vocabulary about what we eat, some good and some, well, not so good: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and high-fructose corn syrup among the not so good. Grass-finished beef and Community-Supported Agriculture (CSAs), among the many good things.
The new edition has a list of startling statistics proving the impact of Pollan’s book. Since its publication the number of American farmers markets has increased over 180% to over 8000 markets (like I said in my opening, 1000 is a huge understatement but I’ve always had a soft spot for the Helen of Troy quote). The number of school districts with farm-to-school programs has grown an eye-popping 430% to over 4000! And 26% of elementary schools now have gardens, a two-fold increase.
If you’re not familiar with “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” I encourage you to stop by the BFM Book and Bean tent, grab a cup of joe, and peruse one of our copies. And if your curiosity is piqued we have copies available for sale with a small donation to the Market.
The main question asked and answered in the book is, “where does my food come from?” This leads me to the second part of today’s post. Namely the seasonality of the BFM.
As you may or may not know one of the main strictures of the BFM concerns our answer to the “where does it come from” question. In our case that answer is simply that everything sold at the Market has to have been grown, raised, or produced in West Virginia. The extrapolation of this is that, due to the seasonality of produce in WV, you’re not always going to find, say, tomatoes at the Market. Now, the flip side of this is that when tomatoes do come into season they will be the most beautiful, tastiest tomatoes available anywhere. And, best of all, they are grown with an abundance of TLC by a committed local farmer using modern, pesticide-free and, in many cases, organic techniques.
At this time of the season you will find lots of healthy greens, radishes, strawberries, root vegetables, and possibly some early squash and cucumbers dominating the tables and tents. Coming strong on the heels of these items as the season progresses will be corn, peppers, green beans, potatoes, and, yes, tomatoes. And not just any tomatoes. These babies will be mostly of the ultra-succulent heirloom varieties.
As for today’s Market we will be featuring our old friends The Masons under the Music Tent. And for our weekly Chef’s Demo we feature a debut recipe from Asst Chef Instructor Ted Hastings of Pierpont Culinary Academy.
And back for a second week will be the Bards of Yellow Wood creating extemporaneous poems for you in exchange for your used books. The Bards are both local high school English teachers and they use the donated books to help build their school libraries. You can find them under the Book and Bean tent as well. This, my dear readers, is a really cool and unique project so be sure to check it out.
Until next time, Stay Fresh!