Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Trip to the Farmer's Market

I was trying to find the Thomas Wolfe House yesterday in Asheville on a family outing (my internal "man map" was off) when I turned off the exit for the WNC Farmer's Market. I decided to stop there instead, and I was glad I did.

This is the time of year in the early fall that farmer's markets get one last resurgence of business before the winter lull. I like the concept of farmer's markets. Why buy produce that shipped from California or by boat from another country when you can get fresher seasonal fruits and vegetables while at the same time supporting your community of local farmers? For many people, and some restaurants, farmers markets are a vital outlet for buying and eating local produce and other wares year round. For me, it had been a while.

Being near Hendersonville, NC, I immediately remembered that the apples were in season. The kids were hungry for a snack, so my daughter and I grabbed a peck bag and started browsing the different varieties. There were several I remembered from years ago when I used to work at a summer camp in Hendersonville during the summer and fall seasons, like Honey Crisp and Winesaps, but there were several varieties that I had never come across before.

For example, if you like Golden Delicious apples, try finding Ginger Golds. Smaller, but much sweeter with a thinner skin. There was another odd-looking apple that I had to try -- Sheepnoses. They had the skin texture of an old-timey pear my grandmother used to grow near her house, with an elongated shape. The flesh was a little dry, but sweet and, I swear, almost tasted like a pear. My kids went crazy over the Ginger Golds, especially my son who normally can't chew the peelings.

There was also a small bakery there that had a really good fried apple pie. Of course, there were pumpkins and gourds galore as well, some so big I thought my kids could have used them for canoes. All in all, it was a fortunate mistake to stop there, and for folks who have never been or not been in a while it is well worth a visit. I bought a whole bag of summer squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and okra for $4. Can't beat that with a stick.

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