Category Archives: Food

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.

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

Fresh and Local Food Movement Gains Momentum From New Web Service

Sourcing local food just got a lot easier

New web service seeks to fundamentally change the way our food systems function!

Using the site is very simple – farmers just load the products they are selling and include important details such as the quantity, variety and agricultural cultivation methods used, for example organic or free-range. Buyers can search the site using their zip code to browse farms or products in their local area. Purchases can be made from multiple farms at the same time, directly on the site using a PayPal account.For getting the products to the buyer, farmers using the site specify their availability to either deliver the product directly, or arrange for product pick-up. Buyers can also choose how they wish to receive their purchased products.The local food movement just gained a new head of steam. A new website, Pick-A-Pepper.com, just introduced a new web platform for buying and selling locally produced food. The service is free for farmers and food artisans and gives consumers of all types (schools, restaurants, families) a central location to source fresh and local products. Farmers, gardeners, and food artisans, large and small alike can use the site to post their fresh produce, meat, and kitchen creations (just to name a few) the moment they are available for sale.

Localy grown vegetables.

Emma O’Connell of Redbuds Farm in Rocheport, Missouri is the CEO and Founder of Pick-A-Pepper. On the launch of Pick-A-Pepper.com, she said:

“As a small-scale farmer and mother of two I was looking for a more flexible and independent way to sell my products than the weekend Farmer’s Market. Pick-A-Pepper allows farmers to connect directly with consumers the moment they have products available, pay online and arrange for a convenient exchange. As a farmer and mother, I believe in the importance of fresh, local food, it is not only healthier but it also supports the local economy helping keep our communities strong. Having worked in the restaurant business for years I was always frustrated to see tomatoes delivered from California when it was prime tomato season in Missouri. Pick-A-Pepper makes it easy for any individual, restaurateur, or institution to purchase fresh food from your neighborhood gardener or local farmer.”

The site also includes a weekly blog by Emma on topics of interest to farmers and local food consumers. The site will also regularly highlight “featured vendors” across the country so you can learn more about the people producing the food on your table. Emma continues to explain:

“I am confident that this website will make buying local easier and more accessible for everyone, it’s fresh local food at your fingertips.”

To begin buying or selling fresh, local products or to learn more visit http://www.pick-a-pepper.com, you can also become a fan of the site on facebook or follow Emma’s tweet @localandfresh

For more information contact: Emma O’Connell at (emma@pick-a-pepper.com)