Posts filed under ‘Farmers Market’
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…)
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…)
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Even among farmers, Ron Kipps is rare. He’s one of only a handful of buffalo ranchers east of the Mississippi and the lone provider of buffalo meat at New York City farmers markets.
“Customers told me I needed to come to New York City to have meat in winter, so here I am, and I love it,” said Kipps, 63, owner of Elk Trails Ranch in West Clifford, Penn.
Kipps — a 10-year veteran of the Union Square Greenmarket — sells all cuts of bison, from ground meat that goes for $8.50 a pound to higher-end rib-eyes, tenderloins and strip steaks. Sales of buffalo meat consistently outpace those of comparably priced Black Angus beef, which Kipps also raises on his 605-acre ranch.
“Buff,” he says, sells better because it’s much healthier. It’s leaner than beef and is high in protein and vitamin B12. According to the National Bison Association, bison has a greater concentration of iron and some of the essential fatty acids necessary for human well-being than other meat sources.
When bison are grass-fed, as Kipps’ are, they’re even healthier. “Grass-fed buffalo is even leaner than fish,” said Kipps, noting that grass-fed bison meat is the only meat that can be eaten twice a week in the Pritikin diet. Kipps also points out that his livestock have the added benefit of being raised without antibiotics, hormones, steroids or feed supplements.
For all its health benefits, buffalo meat is hard to come by in the city. Fairway has a limited selection of processed buffalo meat from Canada, and Whole Foods carries ground buffalo for $5.99 a pound. Consumers won’t have better luck in restaurants. Of the 10 top steakhouses in New York City, only Nick & Stef’s serves buffalo meat occasionally.
“The infrastructure is mostly west of the Mississippi,” said Jim Matheson, assistant director of the National Bison Association. Bison are more prevalent in the West where there are slaughterhouses better suited for the size of the animals and where there is more open space.
Even so, the bison industry is growing. According to the National Bison Association, consumer demand for bison meat grew 10 percent in 2009, the fifth straight year of double-digit growth for bison meat in the marketplace.
The strongest markets for buffalo meat are in the Northeast and Southeast, says Matheson. The Southeast has a large concentration of retirees looking for healthier food, and the Northeast has highly educated consumers, also eager to eat the healthiest food available.
“The only reason I’m here is the people,” said Kipps, whose business barely breaks even. “I’m providing something healthy that people can’t get anywhere else.”
Ron Kipps is at the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturdays from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.