Posts filed under ‘Farmers Market’

World of NYC Green Carts Revealed

Moveable Feast photo exhibition

Photo of Bangladeshi Green Cart vendor in Brooklyn by photographer Thomas Holton.

New York City Green Cart vendors, the men and woman who have ventured into some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods to sell fresh fruit and vegetables, are the subject of a significant photography exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York.  The exhibition — called “Moveable Feast:  Fresh Produce and the NYC Green Cart Program” — chronicles the lives of the cart vendors and their customers.

Gabriele Stabile, one of the five featured photographers, follows Patricia Jimenez, a Mexican woman whose produce cart on the edge of a South Bronx neighborhood once dubbed “Death Valley” is described as a “daily point of reference in the community.” (more…)

May 23, 2011 at 8:24 pm 3 comments

Rhubarb is Back

Rhubarb

© Photo by Margarida Correia.

The funny red-tinged celery sticks are back.  They’re what the more food sophisticated know as rhubarb, a plant whose stalks are used by chefs, bakers and homemakers around the world to make pies and pastries as well as a dizzying array of other things — from soup to sauces for chicken, pork and other meat dishes.

Though the plant has many culinary uses, it hasn’t been widely developed commercially.  A good-sized farmers market is about the only place where consumers will find the stalks.

“They came in late this year,” said Gorzynksi Ornery Farm owner John Gorzynski, of the rhubarb he was selling for $6 a pound at the Union Square Greenmarket.  It will be in season for six to eight weeks, till around the time strawberries start coming up in mid-May or early June.  (more…)

May 5, 2011 at 4:18 pm Leave a comment

Ramps from Roscoe a Wild Hit at Greenmarket

Ramps from Roscoe

© Photo by Margarida Correia. Ramps, or wild leeks, were going for $3 a bunch at the Union Square Greenmarket in NYC. Mountain Sweet Berry Farm was selling them at a quick clip on Saturday.

It wasn’t the fingerling potatoes — or any of the crops it grew — that drew mobs of people to its farm stand at the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday.

What people clamored for were ramps, wild leeks that Mountain Sweet Berry Farm foraged in the woodlands of Roscoe, the hamlet in Sullivan County where the farm is based.

It’s the first wild thing that grows in the forest and the first sign of spring, said the farm’s affable owner, Rick Bishop, of the sought-after edible plant. (more…)

April 18, 2011 at 2:22 pm 1 comment

Stringer Responds to Farmers Markets SOS

Cut them some slack.  That’s Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s recommendation for New York City’s community-based farmers markets.  These markets contend with high permit fees, bureaucratic red tape, parking rule inconsistencies and other issues that make it hard to serve the low-income neighborhoods in which most of them operate.

In a report released today, Stringer lays out a plan to help streamline regulations governing the city’s 60 community-based farmers markets.  The report recommends, among other things, eliminating daily permit fees for markets in low-income areas, which can run up to $1,600 annually.

To read the report, “Red Tape, Green Vegetables,” click here.

April 12, 2011 at 3:56 pm Leave a comment

Freaky Fruit: Black Radishes

Black radishes

© Photo by Margarida Correia. Black radishes on sale for $2 a pound at the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City.

A black radish?  Who knew?

The winter version of the more familiar red radish — which grows in spring and summer — is available at Paffenroth Gardens at the Union Square Greenmarket for $2 a pound.

The black radishes are round and beautiful, but think twice about eating them raw with a little salt, as the farm suggests.  They don’t make for a tasty treat – no matter how much salt you use.  It might be better to grate them and add them to soups and stews.

Radishes, according to Wikipedia, are rich in ascorbic acid, folic acid, and potassium.  And they’re a good source of vitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper and calcium.

For more “Freaky Fruit” – the unusual bounty spotted at Greenmarkets throughout the city – click here, here and here.

February 13, 2011 at 12:39 am 2 comments

Freaky Fruit: Pom Pom Mushrooms

Pom Pom Mushrooms

© Photo by Margarida Correia. Pom pom mushrooms on sale for $12 a half a pound at the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City.

They looked more like the paws of the polar bear at the Central Park Zoo than they did like mushrooms.  The seeming white pods of fur — called pom pom mushrooms — were going for $12 a half a pound at the John Madura Farm stand at the Union Square Greenmarket.  The unusual mushrooms are pricey but are said to taste like lobster or crab.

According to the sign at the farm stand, pom pom mushrooms can be sautéed and are great as a garnish or appetizer.  They are often used in Chinese cuisine and even more so in Chinese medicine.  Chinese healers use the mushrooms to help treat ailments of the stomach and digestive tract, improve liver function and refresh the breath, among other things.

Pom pom mushrooms go by many other colorful common names, including lion’s mane mushrooms, bearded tooth mushrooms and hedgehog mushrooms.  Here’s a new name to throw into the ring:   how about bear paw mushrooms?

For more Freaky Fruit – the unusual bounty spotted at Greenmarkets throughout the city – click here, here and here.

January 28, 2011 at 2:33 am Leave a comment

Eggs as Good as Gold

Roaming Acres Ostrich

© Photo by Margarida Correia. Todd Braxton, the vendor for Roaming Acres Ostrich, a 35-acre farm in Sussex County, N.J., sells ostrich eggs, meat and other ostrich products at the Union Square Greenmarket on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He also sells emu eggs.

Forget the goose that laid the golden egg.  At the Union Square Greenmarket, the bird laying the golden eggs is the ostrich.

Big – the size of coconuts – their shells hard and smooth as porcelain, the ostrich eggs sat in a basket at a farm booth one recent morning.  At $30 apiece, they had to be golden.

“Can I make a fried egg with it?” I asked the vendor at Roaming Acres Ostrich booth, Lou Braxton, as I pointed to the largest of the eggs.

“You can make a large frittata,” he laughed, explaining that one egg is equivalent to as many as two dozen eggs from hens.

Ostrich eggs are similar in taste to chicken eggs, only sweeter, he said, and their whites are much lighter.  One egg will feed 10 to 15 people.

While the giant-size eggs were doing a great job of drawing crowds, it’s the meat that people tend to buy the most.  Ostrich meat is very low in fat and cholesterol and is healthier than most red meat.  It is the highest in iron, next to venison.

“It tastes like beef but has less fat than skinless chicken,” Todd Appelbaum, the founder and owner of the 35-acre farm in Sussex County, New Jersey, said in a telephone interview.

An eight-ounce ostrich fillet goes for $15, the most expensive cut of ostrich meat.  Ground meat, the cheapest, is $9 a pound.

“We don’t sit on any inventory,” said Appelbaum, who sells about 37,000 pounds of ostrich meat annually.

The birds grow fast on their own, so there’s no need for hormones, noted Braxton.  Within of year of hatching, the three-to-four-pound ostrich chicks grow into six- to seven-foot avian giants, weighing 200 pounds.  Appelbaum raises them on feed he formulated and makes himself.

“It’s all natural feed,” much better, he said, than what he’d get at a commercial feed mill.

The former carpenter decided he wanted to “stop swinging a hammer” and opened the ostrich farm in 1993.  He has close to 600 birds consisting of both ostriches and emus.

“I was looking for a healthy alternative – something else that people would want to eat and wouldn’t take a lot of acreage,” said Appelbaum.

The ostrich farmer has found a very receptive market in New York.  Roaming Acres started selling at the Union Square Greenmarket once a week in April of 2010.  Now it has five market days:  three at Union Square and two others on the Upper West Side.

Appelbaum sells to retail customers and a few restaurants, including the Paris Commune, which has grilled fillet of ostrich on its permanent menu, a $28 entrée served with roasted baby carrots, mushrooms and turnips.

Appelbaum is one of the nation’s two largest ostrich farmers. He’s the largest on the East Coast.

“There aren’t many ostrich growers in the U.S.,” he said, explaining that farmers don’t want to process and market their own birds.  In 2007, there were 714 ostrich farms in the United States, down from 1,643 in 2002, according to the USDA’s 2007 Census of Agriculture.

Appelbaum uses every part of the ostriches, from their feathers to their eggs.  He makes pet treats from ostrich hearts and livers, and soap from their oil.  He also makes wallets and other leather products from the hides, which are soft and strong, said Braxton.

“The only animal stronger is the elephant,” he said of ostrich hides.

Even empty Ostrich shells are used.  The ivory, porcelain-like egg shells fetch $20 apiece at the Greenmarket.

In the winter, when ostriches generally stop laying eggs, patrons of the market will likely have to settle for the empty shells.

Ostriches are sun-worshippers that lay eggs only when it’s sunny, said Braxton.

Still, there’s hope, even in the winter, for that golden egg.  If there are four to five consecutive sunny days, the ostriches will start laying, said Braxton.

“They lay eggs when happy,” he said.

Ostrich Eggs from Roaming Acres Ostrich Farm

© Photo by Margarida Correia. Ostrich and emu eggs from Roaming Acres Ostrich farm. A single ostrich egg produces the equivalent of 18 to 24 eggs from hens.

January 15, 2011 at 8:38 pm Leave a comment

Freaky Fruit: Parsley Root

Parsley Root at Union Square Greenmarket

© Photo by Margarida Correia. Parsley root is a hearty vegetable that can be used interchangeably with carrots, turnips, parsnips and celeriac in soups, stews and other dishes. It was going for $1.75 a pound at the Union Square Greenmarket.

There’s nothing unusual about everyday, run-of-the-mill parsley, unless it happens to be its strange, downright freaky relative:  Hamburg parsley. This type of parsley has a shockingly enormous root that passes easily for a parsnip.

Parsley root — as it is known more simply — is a hearty vegetable that can be used interchangeably with carrots, turnips, parsnips and celeriac in soups, stews and other dishes.  It can also be served fresh, fried, sautéed and baked.

The savory root vegetable — which was going recently at the Union Square Greenmarket for $1.75 a pound — is said to taste like a mix of celery, turnips and parsley topped off with a slightly nutty flavor.  It is widely used in central and Eastern European cuisines in soups and meat and vegetable stews and casseroles.

Parsley root goes by a variety of other names, including turnip-rooted parsley, Dutch parsley, Rock parsley, Rock Selinen and Heimischer.

Here are recipes, recipes, recipes for parsley root and other root vegetables.

For other seasonal “Freaky Rruit,” click here and here.

December 20, 2010 at 3:54 pm Leave a comment

NYC Council Pushes for More Local Food

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn last week released an 86-page report on ways in which to reform the city’s food system.  The 59 proposals presented in the report address every phase of the food system, from agricultural production through post-consumption.

“The proposals focus on combating hunger and obesity to preserving regional farming and local food manufacturing to decreasing waste and energy usage,” says the New York City Council in a press release.

The proposals call for new procurement guidelines encouraging city agencies to purchase food from regional farmers as well as new legislation to reduce the packaging for the food they procure.  The report urges the city to invest in food processing facilities and to consider a much bolder vision for the redevelopment of the aging Hunts Point Market in the Bronx, the world’s largest wholesale produce market and “the beating heart of our city’s food system,” said Speaker Quinn in her remarks.  As part of this bolder vision, the report endorses a permanent wholesale farmers market, which I blogged about here, and the building of new rail terminals to reduce the number of trucks to Hunts Point each day.

Another notable proposal calls on restaurants to recycle their grease.  The grease and oil restaurants produce can be “turned into a biofuel that heats buildings and runs vehicles,” said Speaker Quinn.

In a show of support for local farmers, Speaker Quinn announced a community supported agriculture (CSA) plan for City Hall employees.  City Council would also work with the Department for the Aging and the New York City Housing Authority to bring CSAs to senior centers and public housing.

The report, “FoodWorks,” is the outcome of an initiative that I blogged about here. Here’s the link to the report.

November 28, 2010 at 7:25 pm Leave a comment

Freaky Fruit: Salsify

© Photo by Margarida Correia. Salsify, a root vegetable resembling a long skinny parsnip, is both hearty and nutritious.

Ever hear of salsify?  This obscure root vegetable now in season at New York City Greenmarkets couldn’t come at a better time:  the parsnip look-alike is a great addition to stews and soups and makes for hearty winter side dishes.  The vegetable — also known as goat’s beard — can be mashed, boiled, steamed or creamed.  It is said to taste like oysters when cooked.

Salsify is not only hearty.  It is also nutritious.  It contains no fat and is low in salt and calories.  It is also an excellent source of dietary fiber.

Salsify is going for $5 – $6 a pound at the Union Square Greenmarket.

For other “Freaky Fruit” of the winter season, click here and here.

November 24, 2010 at 12:18 pm Leave a comment

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