It’s that time of year! Fresh produce is abounding in our little valley town. While indulging in delicious asparagus may already be happening, the season promises much more to come.
There are a few reasons why eating local is a great idea. First off, supporting local farmers is an efficient way to boost the local economy. By choosing to buy produce from local farms, we directly influence the growth of businesses that have been farming here for decades or are just beginning their farming legacy. Either way, keeping commerce local is a great investment in the community.
Secondly, vegetables that have recently been harvested contain more vital nutrients than ones that have been sitting in stores and on shelves. Nutrient values degrade with the passing of time. To obtain the most nutrients from our vegetables, shorter farm-to-table times are essential. With small farms in and around the community, this transition time is brief. The result is fresh, delicious produce that is loaded with nutrients for the family.
Lastly and most importantly, it tastes divine. A fresh, sun-warmed peach from Southern Oregon in the summer tastes undeniably better than peaches found at larger chain grocery stores in the winter.
There are a few ways to begin procuring locally-farmed produce, cheese and meats. Walla Walla’s Harvest Foods carries local & seasonal produce (905 S. 2nd Ave) as well as Andy’s Market (1117 S. College Ave). Starting your grocery shopping adventure at one of these markets in their local section is a fun way to connect with what is fresh each week. Add some fresh seasonal items into your familiar standard recipes and enjoy increased health benefits. By supplementing your usual grocery-store dinner salad with a sprinkle of local fresh greens, you naturally give a boost to the nutritional content of your meal.
Another way to support local farms is to consider investing in them upfront. Hayshaker Farm and Welcome Table Farms both have Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. CSA programs are a great way for local farms to be able to operate efficiently. Essentially, one is paying for their produce in advance. The CSA at Welcome Table Farms, for example, works in this way: one pays for their seasonal share (June-Thanksgiving) and then chooses one of three pick up locations for their weekly pick up. The amount of produce received averages to about $25 worth per week. I’ve been a part of various CSA programs for a little over a decade now and have been pleasantly surprised each year with both the content as well as the new inspiration that comes with it. When picking up your weekly share at a CSA pick up, there are often recipes included. It’s a fun and accessible way to try new foods.
If you’re not ready to commit to a a CSA program, simply mark the calendar for Walla Walla’s upcoming Saturday Farmer’s Market.
There are many local farms that come together in downtown Walla Walla each Saturday morning to bring the bounty to the people. Fresh option abound in a setting that is friendly and fun. The market opens each week at 9:00am (local supporters of the market know this is the best time to get what’s fresh!). Live music begins a little later and the entire outdoor market closes at 1pm.
Thompson Family Acupuncture provides information about Chinese Medicine, healthy recipes and sliding-scale chair acupuncture. Swing by some Saturday to say “Hi” and see what all the hype is about. The Farmer’s Market is always a good time.
Julie Baron is an East Asian Medicine Practitioner at the Thompson Family Acupuncture Clinic in Walla Walla, WA. Julie seeks to empower individuals and communities. As a movement and mindfulness educator, she has a penchant for functional anatomy. As an EAMP, she has also has a passion for herbal medicine.