Supermarket or Farmers Market

I was going through the produce section of a local supermarket the other evening and I was a little surprised and disappointed.

This is what I found:

Most of the sweet potatoes I see in the grocery store would have been “graded out” as “culls” when I was younger. Long days of standing and grading them into such classes as “number ones”, “number twos”, “canners”, “jumbos”, and “culls” give me the authority to say that.

The same is true for most of the other fruits and vegetables in the supermarket today. The processing, packing, and shipping over long distances takes a toll on the produce. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the mass availability of fruits and vegetables, especially during the off seasons. The quality may suffer as a result but there is more available for more people than any point in history. There is nothing wrong with supermarket produce, it just suffers from the problems of mass production and long distance transport.

When you are looking for top quality fresh produce, local is better. There is a better way to get fruits and vegetables picked at the peak of perfection and taste, and without the problems of being bounced around for hundreds of miles: If you can’t grow them, buy them from local farmers!

Buy fresh locally grown produce from local farmers

Here are a few ways you can do this:

Farmers markets

Most towns and cities have a venue of some type for a “Farmers Market”. If they don’t, there will probably still be a place where a few local farmers hang out on the the corners to sell their crops. Often these impromptu markets become the foundation for permanent farmers markets. If you don’t have a farmers market, check where the farmers sell their produce locally.

Local fruit stands

In lieu of farmers markets, some cities may have a few fruit and vegetable stands. In such cases, local farmers often sell their produce to such outlets, providing a place for you to buy them for your diner table. You still get fresh local produce, and it has traveled through relatively few hands.

Friends and family

You probably know someone who knows someone who farms in your area. Ask around. You might be surprised at the abundance available nearby when you do a little local food networking!

Online farmers markets

This idea is the perfect marriage of local and global, hight tech and basic “hands in the dirt”: Online “Global Local” websites! Organizations like “Pick-A-Pepper” put local farmers in touch with local buyers using the power of the internet. This effectively turns the internet into a local and global fresh food farmers market. This process allows the buyer and the farmer to both benefit from the speed of the internet.

Starting the Sprinkler System in the Spring

When spring time comes around, many home owners call their local landscaping company to come out and perform a sprinkler start up. It is possible to do it yourself but be sure to calculate your moves because it isn’t as easy as just turning a knob.

First, be sure the big spring thaw has happened in your area. It is not a good idea to introduce water to the irrigation system if another freeze could happen.

Make sure that the drain valve is closed. This manual valve is normally found under the vacuum breaker (back-flow assembly) located on the outside your home. Make sure the knobs on the vacuum breaker are also closed.

Find the main water valve that is normally found in the basement near where the vacuum breaker is located on the other side of the wall. Once you find this valve, slowly turn it open.

Since all valves on the outside of the house are closed, the water should stop running quickly, check for leaks.

Go outside and check for leaks, then slowly open the first knob/valve closest to the wall of the house (feeding into the vacuum breaker). This should fill up the back-flow assembly. Then open up the second valve feeding into the irrigation system. It will take a while to charge this up with water.

Replace the battery in your sprinkler timer if needed. Use the sprinkler timer to manually check each zone. Go through each watering zone and check each sprinkler head and look for leaks.

Make sure each sprinkler head is clear of vegetation that would obstruct the watering of your lawn. When they are off, these sprinkler heads should be level with the lawn so mowers don’t chew them up.

Adjustment to the heads of each sprinkler may be needed to ensure each one is targeting its zone accurately. A screw driver can be used to make tweaks.

If a zone seems to be getting watered improperly, use the sprinkler timer to turn that individual zone off and contact your local sprinkler guy.

Continue to occasionally check your zones for proper water coverage. Usually a dry spot in the yard will appear if the sprinklers are not fine tuned.

If you are experiencing problems with your sprinkler system start up and live on the front range of Colorado give Green Guys a call for help.

Sweet Potato Pie Recipe: Taste The Potato!


There are so many foods we look forward to during the holiday season, and I wanted to offer my take on a Southern classic, Sweet Potato Pie. This is my favorite recipe for sweet potato pie offered to you just in time for the holiday season. I hope you like it. At the bottom of the page you will find a list of more articles on the sweet potato, including information on growing, curing, and baking them.

You will need:
1 pound of sweet potatoes from your local farmers market
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pie crust (unbaked)

Boil the sweet potatoes whole in their skins for about 45 minutes or as long as it takes to soften them up.
Remove skins. Tip: If you dip them in cold water the sweet potato skin will be easier to remove, and it will be easier on your fingers.

Homeade Sweet Potato Pie

Chop or break the sweet potatoes into a bowl.
Add the butter, and mix it in.
Stir in milk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
Continue to mix until smooth.
Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust.*
Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until a knife poked in center is clean when removed.

*For a variation on the standard pie crust, try this:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup melted butter
1/3 cup sugar

Mix the ingredients together and press into a pie plate.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 8 to 10 minutes.
Use in place of the standard pie crust for a special variation.

You have probably noticed that the standard nutmeg and or cinnamon that most folks use in a sweet potato or pumpkin pie are absent. Before you go and dump a bunch of spices in, at least try it. You will probably be surprised at just how delicious the pie is without them! The natural flavor of the sweet potato has subtleties that are missed when spices are added. If you simply must add something, try crushing 1/2 cup of pecans and spreading them over the top.

If you enjoy sweet potatoes, you might be interested in the following articles on this site, including my favorite way to cook them:

Growing Sweet Potato Slips

Curing And Storing Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes The Curing Process

Cooking Baked Sweet Potatoes

Home And Garden Advice For The Real World!